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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rachel Mecklem Ridenour Etz, 1848-1875, Richland County, Ohio

This carte de visite of "Rachel Mecklem" was found in an Airdrie, Alberta antique mall along with other cdvs belonging to the same family.  While Rachel's photograph has been trimmed and the photographer's name cut off, I can still make out that the photo was taken in Mansfield, Ohio.   Other dating clues on the card itself indicate an 1860s time frame:  square corners on a white mount with a simple double lined border, thin card stock, and blank background. 

Rachel's full dress is immediately recognizable as from 1860s.  The dropped sleevelines hint at a 1865-1868 timeframe. Her hairstyle, parted in the center and pulled back tightly over her ears, may indicate the latter half of the decade.  I also noticed that Rachel is wearing a wedding band.  If we can discover when she married, we can perhaps narrow down the date of the photograph even further.

It's a help when you locate a grouping of family photos because the other photographs may help confirm family relationships and verify that you are on the right track.  This photograph was found with other cdvs of James Mecklem, Ollie Etz,  and Cloyd Mecklem.  Cloyd and Ollie's photographs were taken in Mansfield, Ohio, and appear to date later than Rachel's, probably to the mid to late 1870s.

I searched for Ollie Etz on Ancestry and immediately found in the Ohio Births & Christening Index, 1800-1962, Oria Olive Etz, born the 2nd of June 1874 in Washington, Richland County, Ohio.  Her parents were Christian Etz and Rachel Mecklem. 

On Familysearch.org I found that Rachel was married twice:  the first time to William C. Ridenour on the 18th of October 1866 in Richland County, Ohio, and the second, to Christian Etz on Februray 12, 1874 in Richland.  Her first husband, a civil war veteran with the 163rd Ohio Infantry, died in 1869 at the age of 26.

In the 1860 census, Rachel is living in North Sewickley, Beaver County, Pennsylvania with her parents Samuel and Mary Mecklem.  She is one of six children.  A word of caution here:  there is another Rachel Mecklem(m) living in Beaver Co., PA in 1860, born in 1845.  Her parents were Canadian-born and have Ohio connections as well.  The reason I settled on Rachel in North Sewickley is because the her birth date matches exactly with the other records connected with Christian Etz, Wm. Ridenour and Ollie Etz.  Secondly, I discovered that Cloyd (b. 1872) was the grandson of Samuel and Mary Mecklem and James Mecklem, featured in one of the other cdvs I purchased, is Rachel's brother.

Rachel and her first husband, had one child, William Mecklem Ridenour, born 31 May 1870 (source: Ohio Births & Christening Index, 1800-1962).  William would never have known his father since William, Sr. died before his birth.  In 1870, Rachel and son are living in Washington, Ohio.  I believe the census-taker made an error recording Rachel's birth date.  Rachel died on December 26th, 1875 in Jefferson, Ohio.

In 1880, William, Jr. is living with his grandfather, Asenath Ridenour, in Washington, Ohio.
William went on to become a doctor in Mansfield, and the Richland County Genweb site has posted a photograph of him.

The clues present in the photograph and the information found in the records, make me believe that this portrait was taken around 1866-1869, perhaps not long after Rachel's first marriage.

UPDATE Oct 11, 2012:  This photo, along with the images of Ollie Etz, James & Cloyd Mecklem, and Norman Wolfe have been reunited with a descendant in Ohio.


  1. Hello! I'm a descendant of the Ohio Mecklems. My great-great-grandfather was a first cousin of Rachel's, and I have done some work on these families, and bought a batch of photos off of eBay last year. Many thanks for posting this and for the research work that you did. I'm definitely interested in obtaining this photo, or at least a good scan. I will email you later today. Todd Mecklem (Portland, Oregon)

  2. Hi Todd, the Mecklem, Etz & Wolfe photographs have already been reunited with a Mecklem descendant. I can put you in touch with the person who received the images if you like. Please email me for details.