Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pictures of the Past and Another Mystery

Back in the early days of my genealogy digging into the Baker side of my family, I quickly found a person who had been filling up all the usual genealogy sites with questions about the same people I was looking for. I think we exchanged one email and then she disappeared. Since she is two generations ahead of me, I thought the worst had happened and that the separation would be permanent. However, about three months ago, contact was again established and we have been exchanging information. As far as research goes, I've progressed past where she is thanks to new technology, namely the Internet. Since I've exhaustively written about this progress many times before on John Henry, siblings and parents, I will just post a bunch of links to them at the bottom of this post. She did however, have some pictures of my second great grandfather John Henry Baker and his second wife Katie Byrel Stevens. The picture of them above is one taken later in life. He died at age 61 so I'm guessing that picture wasn't too much ahead of his death.

The pictures below though only bring up more questions for me. The next two oval ones were labeled John Henry Baker and Katie Byrel Stevens Baker. I'm not yet sure at this point who did the labeling. It appears to be a wedding picture of the two but here's the rub. When John and Katie married, they were 45 and 35 years of age respectively. Those two certainly aren't that old. When John was married to my 2nd great grandmother Blanch Jessie McKee, they were 26 and 19 years old. That seems about the ages of the two in the oval pictures. Another thing that stands out, is that all the pictures of Katie, including the one above, show her with what appears to be olive skin or a healthy tan. There are half a dozen of them in all and they all look like that. The bottom photo below is the youngest one I have of her with a baby that I'm guessing is from her first marriage since she doesn't look 35 years old. Compare that picture with the oval picture above it. They don't look like the same person. The nose is different. The eye structure is different. The skin tone is different. If I had to guess, I would say the second picture below is one of my 2nd great grandmother Blanch Jessie McKee. Another mystery from a family that has been full of mysteries.

John Henry Baker and the Search for His Father
Who Are You John Henry Baker
John Henry Baker's Parents: Part One
John Henry Baker's Parents: Part Two
France E. Bolton
Charlie Chicken
Joseph Baker: Part One
Joseph Baker: Part Two
The Bakers Chicken
Across Oceans and Continents: Part One
Across Oceans and Continents: Part Two


Vince said...

The old man and the fellow in the oval photo are not the same people. If you look to the ears. The young fellow could fly with those things while the old man has his flat to the side of the head. While the woman in the oval seems to be the old woman in the top one. As in both photos she seems to have an unusual configuration with her nose. But you would need to look at that from the original with a lope.
The woman in the bottom photo, if one looks at the hair line, well hair does not grow back even in women.

Ed said...

Vince - I had noticed the ears too but discounted it since the person who gave me this had seen the man in the picture before he died. Perhaps the oval picture is indeed of Katie Byrel Stevens and her first husband. I hadn't thought of that possibility. Sigh, it is kind of sad to have pictures of the past and not know which one for sure is your relative. I guess I know for sure the man in the top photo is my second great grandfather. Beyond that, I'm guessing.

Beau said...

Always interesting to me how people looked so stoic in the older pictures. But I love that third picture... she looks so determined :)

PhilippinesPhil said...

Our family has only a photo or two before the turn of the 20th Century. Its a real find to come across any from before 1900.

Beau, the old photographic processes sometimes took several secponds to develop an image to film. The photographer would urge the person being photographed to be as still as possible for as long as they could, WITHOUT blinking; even after the Brownie camera came out, people would do this.

R. Sherman said...

I've got several of those photos of ancestors from the late 19th century. It's amazing how all such photos tend to look alike, at least as far as composition and facial expression goes. They're all reminiscent of American Gothic.

Eutychus2 said...

Ed............ I blew up both the first and oval pictures of the woman, and they definitely do not look the same .. many aspects of the two faces just don't match.

Ed said...

Beau - Perhaps an alternative explanation to Phil's is that pictures cost so much back then that they didn't dare clown around like we do with our essentially free digital pics.

Phil - I too treasure the few pictures I have before 1900. However, I certainly would like to know which one of these pictures posted I should treasure.

R. Sherman - My favorite ones are always the ones with the entire family scattered about the farmyard or building structure. I don't see many modern family pictures that can compare.

Eutychus2 - I think the most plausible explanation would be that the oval picture and the older woman in the first picture are one and the same. Otherwise, why would a person keep a picture of her father-in-law and his first wife before he married your mother. But I plan on showing it at the upcoming family reunion in a month and seeing what some of the older timers say. Unfortunately, I don't have the originals which might clear it up right away. The photocopies just obscure too many details.

PhilippinesPhil said...

You make my point Ed. They felt that they had one shot at getting the photo right. Concentrating on keeping the facial muscles still and not blinking the eyes made them look either vacuous, worried or even mad.

sage said...

I love those old photos with such stoic faces... When did you find the photos? The internet or family?

karl said...

I really like that last photo. she has such character in her face, a smirk.



Bone said...

However, about three months ago, contact was again established and we have been exchanging information.

When I got to that part, I'll admit the word "seance" crossed my mind.

I wonder when "say cheese" became popular.