Friday, August 27, 2010

Slowly Unraveling Identities

Remember when I blogged about some pictures of my Baker ancestors not too long ago? There was the below picture which I definitely thought was my 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker and his second wife Katie Byrel Stevens not long before he died. Now after the Baker family reunion which I attended a week ago, I am left unsure of almost everything I thought I knew, including the identity of the man in the picture below.

One of my commenters agreed with me that the picture of the man labeled below as John Henry Baker was not the same as the one above because of the ears. I theorized that the man below was actually the first husband of Katie and not my ancestor. However, when I showed the picture at the family reunion, all the grandchildren of John Henry Baker said that it was him and pointed me to the picture at the top of this post as proof. My first thought on seeing the picture at the head of this post was that he certainly passed on his ears to all his male children including my great grandfather Charles Baker who was seated to John Henry Baker's left. In case people are confused, John Henry is the older fellow with protruding ears seated in the middle left of the picture. So now the picture below which I said was most likely not my 2nd great grandfather John is almost certainly him and the picture of the guy above who I thought was him is most certainly not him.

Which brings me to this next picture. When John Henry Baker would marry his second wife, he was 45 and she was 35 years of age. These oval pictures are obviously wedding pictures and they don't look old enough to me. But two of Katie's granddaughter's swore that the below picture was Katie and the above picture was John. Almost in the same breath, they would flip through the album on the table to older pictures of Katie which I have posted on here and say that was how they remembered her before she died when they were eight and six years of age. They also swear that the picture below this one of the woman holding the child is also definitely Katie too. In my previous post, a couple people agreed with my assessment that these two aren't the same women. Perhaps it is just this one is not a very good photo/lighting conditions. I'm up in the air on it still.

You will have to take my word for it since I don't have any of the other pictures of Katie scanned into my computer but this picture below is most certainly she. The other pictures I have document her throughout her life and are unmistakably the same person as this lady holding the baby. I all the pictures, she has either a healthy tan or darker skin tone, not seen in the picture above.

Back to the picture up at the top of this post. My grandma easily identified her father out of the picture sitting to John Henry Baker's left and quickly rattled off the names of the others. The older children in the picture are all from his first wife Blanch McKee but I have forgotten the names already. (I have been promised that I will get a written transcription of who is who soon.) The younger children in the picture are the children he had with his second wife. All told, he had eleven children with two wives and the second wife brought four children from her first marriage into the union so their were 15 children all told. It made for a lively reunion though for a genealogist such as myself, it was just as confusing as this family has been for me to research.


A few days after I had written this post but before I had published it, I received another photograph of my 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker with his first wife and my 2nd great grandmother Blanche Jessie McKee, the first picture I have ever seen of her. Any suspicions that the oval picture of the lady above being her are now completely gone as the one of her in the picture below looks unmistakably different. This time, my great grandfather Charles Joseph Baker is seated in John Henry's lap and the other two are his older sisters Frances Ellen and Margarite Blanche.


Eutychus2 said...

Ed........ so many times confirmation drags a little bit of confusion; but I'm glad things are getting sorted out for you. I'm enjoying your family saga.

R. Sherman said...

Always cool to read these family posts. Someday, your kids and grandkids will thank you for these.


Vince said...

I don't think the one of the woman holding the babe relevant at all. Are you sure he had only the two wives and not three.
And she seems to be of a different era both in the lack of wealth of her dress and in the fact it's a 'candid' shot. I would not be at all surprised if you told me it was set in of Oklahoma of the 1930s. And not where you are putting it.
I'll bet you she is one of the kids Katie brought with her to the marriage and the photo one sent home to her mother after producing a first child.
And she would also be related to you also, wouldn't she.

Ed said...

Eutychus2 - I guess it is just affirmations that our minds never get any better at remembering with age.

R. Sherman - I hope so but even if they don't, I enjoy researching and writing about them.

Vince - I have about twenty pictures of Katie at various stages in her life, too many to post in this blog. But they all look remarkably like the woman holding the baby. The reason she looks like she was from a different era is because she was. In that photo holding the babies she was probably in her early 20's and married to her first husband. She wouldn't marry my 2nd great grandfather for almost 15 more years. That is why those oval pictures throw me for a loop. When Katie and John married they were 35 and 45 years old respectively. The only way I can reconcile them is that they each took the picture from their first wedding and put them in identical settings (i.e. oval frames) to give the impression they were married a lot longer than they were. Finally, Katie was my 2nd great grandfather John's second wife and not my ancestor. John's first wife Blanche McKee is. On the back of the photo, the baby is listed as one of her kids from her first marriage and thus no blood relation to me.

Ed said...

Vince - I neglected to say that until my family reunion, I only had a copy of the picture of Katie holding the child of her first husband. They had the original at the family reunion and thus I was able to confirm that she is indeed Katie and the name of the child which were written on the back of the frame. This is all terribly confusing so I hope I didn't make a mess of it trying to explain it.

Vince said...

Well, having all that info, who is the Baby the Mona-Lise chick is holding

sage said...

It's neat that you have all these old pictures.

Beau said...

Quite the puzzle to wrestle with, but how rewarding to attend a real reunion and put other names to faces. Nice job...

PhilippinesPhil said...

I'm working on a post about my Greatx3 Uncle Seth (1828-1859). His dad was hung for treason by the Brits in Toronto in '37 resulting in the family being evicted from their farm in Canada after which they moved south to the states. He joined the army and was shipped to California to fight the Mexicans. Years later, after the war, he and his brother put together a mining expedition during which Seth was wounded during an indian attack. He subsequently died in Los Angeles weeks later where he is buried today in the pioneer section of one of the oldest cemeteries in town. I don't know why, but I really identify with Seth.