Is there anything more frustrating than having old family photos but not knowing who the people in the photos are?
I scanned a whole photo album of wonderful turn of the century photos and not one of them was labeled. I’m sure the owner of the album knew who every man, woman and child was, but now, over a century later, his descendants are clueless.
Identifying the people in that album turned into a big guessing game. I visited elderly relatives that I thought and hoped might recognize someone or see some family resemblances. I got a few good guesses but most of the people in those photos remain unknown to this day. I know only that the folks in that album were from the Schinnerer/Scaer families.
Sometimes even photos that are labeled can be a challenge to identify. My aunt Ruth has a beautiful old Bible that belonged to my great-great-grandmother Emily (Bryan) Reid. Several old tin-type photos are mounted in the back pages of the Bible. Those photos are labeled “Grandma Bryan”, “Grandma Reid’s Parents”, “Grandpa Reid & Sisters”, etc.
This sort of labeling is useful only if you know who did the writing. Whose Grandma Bryan? Perhaps Grandma Bryan was the writer’s great-grandmother. Did Emily write the names? Or did Emily’s daughter Pearl do the writing? Or was it Pearl’s daughter Gertrude? This has created a lot of confusion and questions.
Last summer I scanned some old photos in Jay County when I visited my distant relative Ed. He has quite a few Bryan family photos and the names of the persons were actually written on the backs of them. How wonderful!
Ed showed me a photo of Emily (Bryan) Reid, my great-great-grandmother. She was young and pretty. I have seen photos of her when she was older, but never when she was that young.
I noticed that his photo of Emily looks a lot like a woman I had seen before in another photo–a tin-type that was in the back of Emily’s Bible, the Bible Aunt Ruth now has. It is the photo of the two women and a man shown at the beginning of this blog. That photo was labeled Grandpa Reid & sisters. Which Grandpa Reid? Grandpa Reid could be William Reid, Emily’s husband. William Reid would have been Gertrude’s grandfather and she may have written on the photo. To my knowledge William Reid only had only one sister.
Compare the two photos below. The one on the left is from Ed, labeled Emily. The photo to the right is a closeup of one of the two women in the photo at the top of this blog. Could the woman in the right photo be Emily? She looks like Ed’s photo of Emily. Is this Emily?
If it is Emily, the seated man could very well be William Reid. Could it be their wedding photo? Who is the other woman? Perhaps she is William’s sister Minnie M. Reid. So many questions and we may never know the answers.
Here are two photos of Emily and William in their later years.
Please remember to label your photos accurately!