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. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
Friday, July 27, 2012
The Young May Gordon, Pawnee, Oklahoma Territory, 1890s
On the reverse of the card someone has written, "May Gordon, Oklahoma Territory. There isn't a date provided but we can narrow things down, if we come at it from a few angles. First, the photographer's imprint on the front gives the location as "Pawnee, O.T." Oklahoma Territory came into being in May of 1890 and remained so, until it merged with the Indian Territory in 1907 to become the State of Oklahoma.
Secondly, we can look at the style of this cabinet card. Notice the scalloped edges. I seem to have cropped one side of the scalloped completely off when I prepared this picture for uploading. The original does have all four scalloped edges. This was a card stock feature from about 1886 to 1900.
I had absolutely zero luck finding anything about A. L. Stewart, the photographer. Perhaps something could be found off-line in a local history book such as Pawnee Pride: History of Pawnee County by Franks & Lambert, but I suspect A.L. Stewart may have set up shop in Pawnee for a just short while. The fringed chair doesn't provide us with anything new, as it was a popular piece of furniture in portrait photography from the 1860s and on to about 1900.
I can't see too much of the girl's dress because it has largely faded into the white portion of the backdrop. While I can't get a good look at the shoulder, sleeves or waist, I do see smocking at the bodice. It's hard to tell if it is a plain white dress or if it has a pattern to it since the picture is so washed-out. I'm afraid the clothing doesn't give up too many clues, either. Her long hair is pulled back over the ears with short frizzy-curled bangs, a style seen on young girls in the 1890s.
If I had to commit to a date range, I'd guess 1895 to 1899.
I found a May E. Gordon in the 1900 census, born Aug 1884 in Kansas, living with her divorced mother, Mattie, 33, and her younger brother John L. Gordon, b. Aug 1886, also in Kansas. May's mother was employed as dressmaker, and fifteen-year-old May worked as a housekeeper. John was a day labourer 1.
While I couldn't find much more in the records about May, I did find John's WW1 Draft Registration which provided more details. John was born in Pleasanton, Kansas on August 25, 1886, and worked as a Barber in 1917.2
I thought it might be helpful to see if I could find information on a May Gordon born in Pleasanton in 1884, and while I didn't locate any records, I did find a tree on Ancestry, which I have not verified, with a Detta May Gordon in it, who was born 24 Aug 1884 in Pleasanton and died in Oklahoma City on the 21st of April 19733. She married a man named Maurice or Morris Marx in 1903. I have no way of knowing, without further research, if this tree is accurate, but it bears looking into.
Is Detta May Gordon the girl in the photograph? I just don't know. Perhaps there is an image of Detta out there somewhere, or maybe someone has a copy of this photograph. I think a photo-to-photo comparison is the only way we will ever know.
1 "United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMGD-S6D : accessed 27 July 2012), May E Gordon in household of Mattie Gordon, ED 179 Pawnee Township (incl. Pawnee County Jail) Pawnee city, Pawnee, Oklahoma Territory, United States.↩
2 World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com), accessed July 15, 2012, Entry for John Le Roy Gordon, Registration Location: Logan County, Oklahoma; Roll: 1851806; Draft Board: 0. ↩