Welcome!

I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I also accept donations of pre-1927 images to be reunited. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist


Monday, November 22, 2021

When the Date Isn't a Birth Date: Bruce Gregg Jemmett, Prescott, Ontario, 1892


 

The image of this toddler has faded, but perhaps we can learn more about this happy lad to sharpen the picture a wee bit. We are lucky that the photograph is identified on the back. Note how the ornate photographer's imprint forced the inscription to be written along the very edge. J. T. Conlon of King Street in Prescott, Ontario operated his studio from 1890 to 1900.

The inscription on the back reads, "Bruce Gregg Jemmett - 6 months old March 5/93"

 


So what does this date pertain to? Bruce's birth date or the date the photograph was taken? I could only find one Bruce Gregg Jemmett in all of the records I searched on Ancestry, Familysearch, MyHeritage and Library and Archives Canada. They all provided the same birth date: 5 September 1892. If we add six months to the birth date we end up with a date of 5 March 1893. It's important to keep in mind that a date on a baby picture isn't always a birth date. In this case, the photo was likely taken to commemorate a six-month milestone.

Bruce Jemmett was the son of Frances S. and Rebecca (Mill) Jemmett. The family lived in Prescott, Ontario. His father was a banker and Bruce would follow in his father's footsteps. In 1911, Bruce was living in his grandmother Margaret Mill's home in Napanee on Donald Street, along with his mother Rebecca, after the death his father six years earlier. At this time he was employed as a ledger keeper. Bruce would later volunteer for service in WW1. I couldn't find much about his service due to the type of genealogy subscription I have, but he received an Imperial War Service Gratuity in 1920 for work with the Royal Navy. It appears he met his wife, Edith Millicent Reid, in England and they were married there in 1917. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy on the HMCS Whitethroat, a mine-layer, in the final years of World War II.

Bruce Gregg Mill Jemmett died in 1949.

****

"Canada Census, 1901," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KH25-B35 : 23 February 2021), Bruce G Jemmett in household of Frances S Jemmett, Grenville (south/sud), Ontario, Canada; citing p. 19, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa.

"Canada Census 1911," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9T-PKTP : 16 March 2018), Bruce G M Jemmett in entry for Margaret Mill, 1911; citing Census, Lennox and Addington Sub-Districts 1-35, Ontario, Canada, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 2,418,507.

"England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:26NW-9J6 : 13 December 2014), Bruce G M Jemmett and null, 1917; from "England & Wales Marriages, 1837-2005," database, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : 2012); citing 1917, quarter 3, vol. 2B, p. 1220, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, General Register Office, Southport, England.

"Canada, Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FMVD-RWG : 8 March 2021), Francis Stephen Bruce Jemmett and Rebecca G Mill, 14 Sep 1889; citing registration , Napanee, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,870,224.

https://uboat.net/allies/commanders/9584.html

"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2DN-ZV9T : 13 September 2020), Francis Stephen Bruce Jemmett, ; Burial, Ottawa, Ottawa Municipality, Ontario, Canada, Beechwood Cemetery; citing record ID 171103007, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.

The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario. 1 Dec 1949. “Deaths,” p. 2

"Canada, Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FMVD-RWG : 8 March 2021), Francis Stephen Bruce Jemmett and Rebecca G Mill, 14 Sep 1889; citing registration , Napanee, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,870,224.

Phillips, Glen C. The Ontario Photographers List, 1851-1900, Volume One., Global Heritage Press. Milton, Ont: 2002. p.66.

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Imperial War Service Gratuities; Reference: RG9-II-F-10; Volume: 145

 


Friday, November 5, 2021

Why a Watermark? The Søren Gregersen Photograph and My Skepticism


 
Incorrectly i.d.'ed photo found in various online trees

I thought I'd take a departure from my regular post approach today to explain something you may have been curious about. Why do I write the blog address of Family Photo Reunion across the images I write about? 

First, let me tell you a little story. My 2nd great grandfather, Søren Gregersen, was born in Voer, Hjørring, Denmark. He converted to the LDS church and immigrated, along with his wife and a few of their grown children, to Redmond, Utah in the 1880s. Other children, including my great grandmother, stayed in Denmark. He has many descendants in America and elsewhere, and as a result the majority of my matches on the DNA sites are from this line. 

I noticed on The Familysearch Family Tree that someone attached the above carte de visite photograph of a young man to his profile. Søren Gregersen was born in 1823. I had a sneaking suspicion that this wasn't my 2nd great grandfather simply because the age of the person fit with the style of photograph. How old does he look to you? For this individual to be my 2nd great grandfather, I estimated the photograph would have had to be taken between 1843 and 1855 in Denmark. Cartes de visite did not come onto the photographic scene until around 1859, though they were by no means common and available to the regular person (who could afford to spend money on photographs) until the 1860s. The style of this particular cdv, with its square-cornered card stock, and fairly ornate studio background, table and patterned carpet indicates a time frame of 1865 to 1875, but it could certainly be later than that. It could not be earlier. The wide lapels of the man's coat would indicate an 1860s to mid 1870s date as well. Of course, many men held onto their clothing longer than fashion would dictate due to economic reasons as men's fashions did not experience the same pendulum swings that women's fashions did. There may be cultural differences in fashion styles, too. Cartes de visites were popular in Denmark until the early 1900s; while in North America, they started to decline in favour in the late 1880s.

I am skeptical of the attribution on Familysearch for a few reasons, but mostly because there is no source information provided. I am not saying that the individual is absolutely not the person he is reported to be, only that I am unable to evaluate that likelihood based on the information I see. I decided to contact the person who uploaded the image to the Familysearch Tree to learn more about it. Perhaps they could provide a scan of the reverse of the photograph, which might include a photographer's imprint or perhaps an inscription with a name or date.

I did receive a very friendly reply to my note. The Familysearch poster explained that they had copied it from someone else's online tree. They didn't remember when or whose tree it was. But, they were pretty sure it was correct. As I mentioned earlier, there are many descendants of my ancestor. Quite a few of them are engaged in the genealogy hobby. Many have accepted this image into their family tree. At what point does this fellow become my 2nd great grandfather, even if he is not? Is it after it is found in 50 trees? 100? Or should we be skeptical of unsourced information and state that uncertainty when sharing? I'm all for the latter. At the very least, we should provide a bread crumb trail for those who would like to think critically about the artifact.

The story doesn't end there. I decided to contact each and every family tree owner who has posted this image in their tree, in hopes of finding one person with a physical copy of the photograph. So far, no luck. All have copied theirs from another online tree. However, one of my distant cousins from Denmark helpfully pointed me in the direction of WikiTree, which seems to be where many of the people I've spoken with have found this image. I contacted the poster of photograph. That person replied almost immediately. The long and short of it is that they also found this photo on a relative's online tree, and re-posted it. But they remembered seeing a similar photo in one of their family albums, and assumed it was the same photograph. They had intended to compare it with the one in their family album, but they had forgotten about it. They told me that when they locate the photograph from their album, (currently in storage and not an original, but a copy--so no imprint information), they will either provide any accompanying information if it's the same photo or remove the above photograph from Søren's record on WikiTree if it is not. In the meantime, they've posted a disclaimer under the photo entry in WikiTree about this uncertainty. If you have copied this particular photo of Søren Gregersen into your tree, you may want to add a disclaimer of your own to your files that states this photograph is currently in question.

Since starting this blog, I've noticed that the photographs I've posted can be found on many family trees. The watermark I place on photos ensures that anyone who stumbles across the image can find the original and read about the process used to identify it. Sometimes I don't fully identify an image. If I have reservations (and I often do), I say so. Some people do include this information when they post the image online. Sometimes they even include a direct link to my blog post. Some people don't bother and, instead, crop the photo to avoid the watermark and plop it on their tree without an apparent second thought, even when the photograph in question is not 100 percent proven to be their ancestor. Don't get me wrong. I love it when a photograph can be reunited with a descendant, even if it is just a digital reunion that I know nothing about. But I implore those who re-post these images to responsibly cite the source. 

As always, if you are a direct descendant of the photographic subject in one of my blog posts, feel free to contact me about obtaining the original photograph.

If you happen to have the original Søren Gregersen photograph in your possession or are able to provide more information about its provenance, I would dearly love to hear from you.While I'm skeptical, I would love this to be a picture of my great, great grandfather.

 

UPDATE: November 13, 2021

The earliest online appearance of this photo I can find dates to 2011. The WikiTree image was posted in 2018. The 2011 image was added to a family tree on Ancestry and attached to a person identified as "Soren Peter Gregersen." This Soren Peter Gregersen was born in 1849, Brovst, Denmark. His wife happens to have a similar name to my Søren's wife. Soren Peter Gregersen is clearly not my great great grandfather, Søren Gregersen, who was born 26 years earlier in Voer. The research provided on this tree appears correct, in that it matches the information I found for Soren Peter after a quick look in Danish parish records. Name confusion is a common problem in Danish research. Simply having the same surname is not an indication of relationship.

My hypothesis is that one of Søren Gregersen's (b. 1823) descendants thought Soren Peter's Ancestry tree pertained to their relative. It did not. There are some questionable online trees for my 2nd great grandfather that inexplicably include the middle name "Peter"--I have researched my ancestor thoroughly in the original Danish church books and censuses. I have not found one document that records his middle name as "Peter." I suspect one person posted this image in error, and many re-posted the mistake. My conclusions about the date of the image and the age of the sitter fits Soren Peter Gregersen (born 1849) much better. Not only that, but the person who originally posted the photograph labelled it, "Grandpa Gregersen." That's a fairly close relationship. It is unlikely the person knew their Grandpa as he died in 1917, but it is very likely that someone close to them did. This is important for identification.  How do I know the unlabelled picture I have of my Grandma Jensen is actually an image of my grandmother? Because I knew my grandmother. I met her. I know what she looked like.

While still only speculation at this point, I am feeling this 2011 attribution is the correct one. I have sent a note to the original poster, as well as other researchers and am hoping to hear from them sometime soon. If they have a physical copy of the photograph in question, that pretty much cinches it.

 I will keep updating this post as I obtain new information. I'm determined to get to the bottom of this photograph yet! 

ANOTHER UPDATE: November 15/21

The image above is of Soren Peter Gregersen, born 22 Feb 1849 in Brovst, Denmark. Eric, a descendant of his from Pittsburgh, has the print photograph and will be forwarding me a copy of the reverse so I can post it here. The fountain pen inscription reads, "Soren Peder Gregersen."






Saturday, October 30, 2021

An Odd Reason to Pick Up a Photograph: The Mary and Tom Cole Portrait, 1890s, Waukegan, IL

 


I normally purchase a photograph at an antique store if I think there's a possibility of a reunion. That usually means there's unique information contained in or on the photograph that will help me identify the subject in the image. This portrait was purchased for an entirely different reason. The man seated in the photograph is my eldest brother's doppelganger. It's as if this photo was created in one of those faux antique photo studios, mildly popular in the 1980's, in which the sitters dress up in their choice of old-timey clothing for a lark and have their pictures taken. But this isn't one of those photographs -- it's the real deal. So, unless my brother can time-travel (and if there's anyone I know who might be able to do so, it would be my genius brother) the gentleman is probably a fellow named Thomas Cole, as indicated by the short note on the back of the portrait.

Even though I purchased this photo as a novelty item, that doesn't mean I can't try to figure out more about this couple, does it? So, here it goes.

I've been analyzing family photographs for about two decades now, and initially guessed the image was taken in the 1890s. The woman's sleeves, the presentation style of the cabinet card itself, and background setting all point to that decade. According to the imprint on the photo, the image was created at the R.H. Stripe studio at 120 & 122 Genesee St. in Waukegan, Illinois. I was able to find Reuben H. Stripe in Waukegan City directories in 1901, 1903, and 1905. His occupation in 1901 is "Sec'y Treas. Waukegan & Washington Mining & Smelting Co." Later directories list him as an insurance agent. The 1900 census for Waukegan also provides his occupation as "Sec of Mining Co." As an aside, finding Mr. Stripe in the 1900 census was something of a minor feat. Reuben also went by "Harry," which probably gives us a hint to the H. in "R. H. Stripe." In addition, his surname is transcribed as "Shiper" on the 1900 census in Ancestry.

My search turned up no information about Reuben's photographic career from the online documents. I contacted the Waukegan Historical Society and was pleased to receive this helpful information: 

"R.H. Stripe, Photographer was in business from about 1895 to about 1900 in Waukegan. In 1895-96 they were located at 122N. Genesee Street, 1897 to 1900 located at 120 N. Genesee Street." Since the imprint contains both addresses, we can say it is likely that the photograph was taken after 1896.

Having narrowed down the date of the photograph, I turned to the subjects in the image. I could only find one couple named Thomas and Mary Cole in the 1900 US Federal Census for Lake County, IL: Thomas Cole, 36, and Mary S. Cole, 24. Though it's difficult to say for sure, this seems to be a plausible match to the individuals in the photo. Of course, there is always the possibility that the Coles in the photograph were not from the area, or left prior to the 1900 census. The Thomas Cole of the 1900 census was a farmer and rancher. He married Mary Kreiberg in New Mexico in 1896. They returned to Illinois and farmed in the Benton area.

Thomas was the son of John and Anne Cole  who also farmed near Benton, Illinois. His brother, William was a Methodist Reverend. I had been wondering what Thomas' connection was to New Mexico. Someone was kind enough to post a news article about Thomas' death in 1913 on Findagrave.com that clearly spelled out his connection to the area. In 1898, brother William died in Springer, NM. Thomas moved his family from Illinois to New Mexico sometime after 1900 to take over the farm. The newspaper article also described in detail the unusual circumstances of Thomas' death. While trying to make a roof repair, Thomas was blown off his house in a freak windstorm. He died at age 49 as a result of the fall, leaving behind Mary and their three year old son to mourn the loss.

I am very curious to know if the Colfax County, New Mexico Coles are same Coles in my doppleganger photograph. If you have any photographs of Tom or Mary, I'd love to see them to compare with this one.

 

Sources used:

"United States Census, 1870", database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M64Y-CKV : 29 May 2021), John Cole in entry for John Cole, 1870.

"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MXVW-NQP : 19 February 2021), John Cole, Benton, Lake, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district ED 244, sheet 655B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,221.

1900 U.S. census, Waukegan, Lake, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 143, page 28-A (penned), dwelling 623, family 665, Harry Stripe, boarder, in household of Christian Just; digital image, My Heritage (http://myheritage.com : accessed 27 Oct 2021); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 1240. 

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MSWR-NYJ : accessed 30 October 2021), Thomas Cole, Benton Township, Lake, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 129, sheet 4A, family 75, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,314.

 1910 U.S. census, Waukegan, Lake, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 110, page 24-A, dwelling 413, family 413, R. H. Stripe household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 27 Oct 2021); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 302.

 1920 U.S. census, Waukegan, Lake, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) #273, page 6 (penned), House 927, dwelling 140, family 183, Harry Stripe household; digital image, Ancestry (http://ancestry.ca): accessed 27 Oct 2021); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 382.

  "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995", indexed database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Oct 2021), Rubin (Reuben H.) Stripe entries, 1901, 1903, 1905; citing " Waukegan, Illinois City Directory, 1901, 1903 & 1905.  

 Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31054265/thomas-r-cole : accessed 30 October 2021), memorial page for Thomas R Cole (1864–23 Mar 1913), Find a Grave Memorial ID 31054265, citing Springer Cemetery, Springer, Colfax County, New Mexico, USA ; Maintained by Athanatos (contributor 46907585) . Includes newspaper clipping, unknown newspaper, unknown date.

Email from Waukegan Historical Society to author, dated 21 Oct 2021. R. H. Stripe years as photographer. 

New Mexico, U.S., Compiled Marriage Index, 1727-1900 database,Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 19 Oct 2021), entry for Thomas Cole and Mary Kriebing [Kreiberg], 24 Nov 1897, Colfax County, New Mexico.