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 hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Fading Portrait of Mary Fors, Fargo, ND, ca 1897

This cabinet card photograph labelled "Mary Fors," taken at the Hanson & Stene Studio in Fargo, North Dakota has degraded over the years.   Hopefully, by keeping it out of the light this is where the image will stay, rather than fading into a more ghost-like image.

We can narrow down the date this photograph was taken quite handily.  According to The Institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, Hanson & Stene operated on 508 Front Street in Fargo beginning in  June of 1897.  In January 1898 the partnership of Charles F. Stene and Hans J. Hanson was dissolved.

But who was Mary Fors?  I found only one Mary Fors in North Dakota in the 1900 US Federal Census, but this Mary was a one-year-old, so is not the Mary Fors we are looking for.  A wider search yielded far too many possibilities.  I tried to find a city directory for Fargo for the year 1897, but could not find one online.  If one exists in hardcopy, it might be worthwhile to see if there are any entries for the surname Fors.

Several things could have occurred here.  Mary might be from elsewhere and simply had her picture taken in Fargo on a visit.  Or perhaps she did live there and moved away shortly after.  She could have married.  There are so many, too many possibilities surrounding Mary that I think it is difficult to continue with the search without some other breakthrough.


  1. Since Fargo is on (or very near) the Minnesota state line, she may have lived locally, but in MN. It's hard to tell from the photo- but one assumes she is at least 18 years old as of 1897-ish -- making her birthdate "before 1880-ish" but probably not before 1850-ish.

    Unfortunately, I don't see any particularly promising candidates in MN either.

  2. Have you tried Mary Foss? Penmanship sometimes leaves a lot to be desired...so people sounded out the names..so it could be fours..force..fores?? Always a puzzle with these old photos:)

  3. This Mary Fors might actually "fit the bill".


    Rothsay (the location of the cemetery) is 40 miles from Fargo. Lot of nothing in between too...

  4. Interesting possiblity, further researched.


  5. Mary (Marie) Fors (1872 – 1926) immigrated from Finland in 1891. She married Solomon Carl Danielson on 20 Dec 1897. Which is why we couldn't find her in the censuses.

    Mary and Solomon Carl had 10 children.