Saturday, April 5, 2014
It isn't the most dangerous thing that people could do in Woodward, Iowa in 1920 but for a young child it might be a little scary to be at the top of a slide. Thinking of the things that people would do to cause them injury at that time would be falling off of horses, drowning in a pond and catching a bad infection. This photo is a cropped part of a very long photo of the entire student body, plus teachers, in 1920.
A photographer in town had a special camera that took wide shots. From my living in the town I am aware that he took wide shots of many things for ten years or more. I have seen a long photo of all the lodge members in town outside on the street in which I framed for the owners. It was a lot of people being captured with their winter hats and coats trying to keep warm standing in front of an old opera house. I have see a photo taken on my property of across the street with 12 or more model Ts Fords lined along the street. The camera was a special one in which a mechanism allowed the picture to be stretched out rather than look like a curve. This photo was of all the school plus teachers in 1920 and I do have in my possession of one taken in 1916. The building in the photo was built in 1909. I taught in that old building for 4 years starting in 1976.
When I look at photos like this from the past I find that a simple glance is not sufficient. The individuals in the photo all have a behavior to share or a state of being in the social classs of the country. I see girls in fancy dresses and shiny shoes and I see girls in dresses made from flour sacks and no shoes. Boys are either of the high end of the economic chain or boys are farmers in bib overalls.
I have taken parts of the group to help see the real faces of the children that live on the prairie. Personalities can be depicted clearly with some of the faces and others just blend in with the crown. My mom wore those stockings as a girl and she hated them. They were required if you wore a dress and wool was a part of the material used to make them. They went over the knee and they didn't stay up for very long.
The older boy with a tie glances out to his future while others who are younger seem to be tolerating the standing still for the camera. I don't know how far away a photographer would have to stand with his large camera but he couldn't be that close to communicate to this large group.
The two girls have nice white dresses in this photo with the boys are wearing some form of dress up suits. The bows in the hair of girls are hard to see but the one has a very large bow and I think she has a corsage decorating her dress. I just noticed the boy on the right is not wearing shoes and the pants are short to the knee. The smaller boy in front is probably wearing his brothers hand me down pants as they are rolled up to shorten them and they seem a little over sized. It is hard to know what is going on in their lives in this time period, but this is the Depression of 1920 time frame.
Some of the pictures tell their own stories. The plaid sleeves to a dress with a collar that reminds me of a nautical theme. Her shoes are in good shape and she hasn't heard that she should turn and look at the camera.
Do you think that these two are twins? The one is looking at the camera, squinting while the other is looking away for the time being.
These guys are probably farm boys who live near town. They would have to walk to school from the edge of town. They look alike to me as if they are brothers.
I really have too many observations to share to do in one blog. I don't know for sure if they are the oldest boys in school. One man on the right could be a teacher and others could be high school seniors. One is wearing glasses.
I will finish with this right side of the photo on this posting. I wonder if you can pick out the little girl that is wearing dark glasses. I think she is partially blind as no one else wore sun glasses at that time. We have a girl who moved her head to the right and older girls in the back who might be high school seniors.
The whole photo has potential for a history buff in this town to really analysis the groups of people socially and really discover who they are. I have a resource of the senior composites of the 1920 school year so I could pull out faces from the large group. I didn't attend school here and it isn't my home town but I have lived here long enough to have a bond to its history. I was around when they tore the building down in 1993. The history held in one shot is fascinating to me and I will be posting more about this shot of history.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014
My creativity today is focused on analyzing a family picture from 1942. When I first looked at the photo I really didn't appreciate what I had here in the way of family history. It is a diverse representation of four generations but with only one or two people on the many branches.
When I was younger and away from home, my mom had my two older brothers go through the photos in all the boxes. They were told to take what they wanted and of course they would take the ones of the era of their growing up. My years were 10 years later so many of the photos of the two older brothers would not be of anything that I would remember. Slowly but surely, my oldest brother, scans and emails to me images of the past. I wasn't born until 12 years later but they do spark my curiosity.
I am first impressed with the clarity and good contrast of this photo. It is a photo taken in Murray, Iowa where my Grandmother moved after loosing her husband in 1937 and where my mom and oldest brother lived while my dad was in the service. For shooting a photo with a box camera they normally will be slanted. The second thing that amazes me is that this is truly four generations of people. The generation steps aren't by one individual family but by the generations that you see here. If you were to visualize this photo, the tree would actually have one or more people represent on many different branches that sprout back to Grandpa Wheeler. Being a visual, I would really like to draw it out but I will spare you.
The picture marked Grandfather Wheeler is really my Great Grandfather Wheeler. He is the dad of my grandmother on my mom's side.
Elva Wheeler, we called him Elvie, is the son of the Grandfather in the picture and Elva is my Grandmother's brother. There were five boys and one girl in the family. That means he is a Great Uncle.
Kenneth sitting in the back is my Grandmother's son, my mom's brother. He is my Uncle Kenneth and I bet Uncle Marvin is the one laying in the grass next to him. There were two boys and a girl in that family.
The Ronnie, little boy, is my oldest brother. He is sitting there with his Great Grandfather, Great Uncle and his Uncle, maybe two uncles, in the background.
Shirley and Freda are second cousins to Ronnie and of course myself. Their father, not in the picture was another brother to Elva and my Grandmother. They would be first cousins to Kenneth in the background.
The achievement here is that I discovered a visual curiosity of a family tree. The other thing I enjoy is how good the photo is with all it's clarity and the historic cars and houses. The house still stands today, the one on the left, but it was turned into a one story. My parents met and married because of this house and the history of renters my dad's sister in the upstairs of the house. I think the garage and house next door are also still standing. Trees have been added but it still is all there.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014
It is a weekday in 1957, March 26th and the day before it had started to snow. Down on the farm in southern Iowa we had good snow storms but this one was a heavy snow with strong winds. School was cancelled and it was my birthday. The farm buildings were lined up in a row with an opening for the tractors to drive through between the barn and the grain shed. When the wind would blow in a certain direction, I am guessing out of the east, the buildings would collect lots of snow and created big drifts.
I had turned seven and it was exciting to look out of the house and see such tall drifts. It was cold in the morning but I put on two pairs of jeans and my winter boots to go wading in the snow. I really liked my red coat and the artificial fur was to help keep the person warm that lined the hood. The strap, that is supposed to help keep you warm as it snapped across you chin would get wet as the breath put out moisture. I had unsnapped it as it was wet and you didn't want to taste it. I doubt the drawstring to the hood was tied and the sun is shining.
We never took pictures of the snow or people in the snow but my mom ventured out to snap my photo. Later my brother three years older than me, came out and we together made caves and tunnels. I really don't know of any other photo taken of our family in the snow. The photo brings back so many memories of winter and the two buildings behind me.
In March we would venture into the barn to look for new born kittens and visit dad while he milked the cow. Young twin calves were brought to the barn to help them survive another storm sheltered in the barn During rainstorms we would run barefoot in the puddles and mud. Both buildings are gone now as the new owners let the barn roof cave in and the building to the left had to be moved as their tractors were too large to go between the buildings. They moved the building behind the barn where the strong winds rolled it down the hill one windy day leaving it in a heap. I have many memories of my older brothers and me sledding down our backyard hill and the use of one pair of wooded skis that had a single leather strap to hold your feet to the cheap wooden piece. The hill was steep as it is southern Iowa and the exhaustion one would have trudging up and down the steep incline made everyone very tired. We would never have thought to take a camera out there to capture those memories.
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Friday, January 24, 2014
From last weeks prompt I was brought to a realization that I only focus on WWII history. Being born right after that war and having my father serve in that war, it does make sense that I would have a stronger base for covering that time period. The Sepia Saturday blog has inspired me to seek more info about the people who are buried on the top of the hill of the Murray Cemetery of Murray, Iowa. The last time my wife and I were down there we did take a walk through the oldest part up on the hill. It is the part that has ancient old cedar trees growing and the stones are of an older style. I saw where they were buried and I did have my interest peeked.
The first big thing that I found on the net about the cemetery is that someone has generously created a list of every person's grave and placed the names in the sections easy to find. I can now preview all the people in the different sections on that hill as well as the whole cemetery. The town of Murray became an official town in 1868 so the graves are from the middle 1800's to the 1920's are mostly on that hill. Originally there was a small grave yard that was full located east of town and they moved the graves to the new larger Murray Cemetery. A good thing about the list is that if there was information on the stone, they marked that the person as a veteran of the different wars.
This is a stock picture from the internet that I have borrowed to spruce up my post. Some of the vets' names listed are shown below.
5-9 James F. Stiffler, Nov 14, 1902-Apr 14, 197_, Iowa Pfc. B try B 16th Fld. Arty.
World War I
22-17 George Christy, Oct 15, 1842-Feb 28, 1918 (Vet) (questionable dates)
33-3 Harry H. Lochrie, Sept 4, 1888-Dec 14, 1959-Iowa Cpl. Marine Corps. WWI
Two of the men who were in WW1 lived until 1959 and also 1970. The man named George Christy is a mystery. He was born in 1842. The birth date on this stone was not recorded correctly or the death date is wrong. That would have made him a 76 year old veteran and died in 1918. The cemetery itself was establish in 1855. If he is marked a vet in that area of the cemetery, he definitely was a WW1 Veteran just not such an old one.
The town of Van Wert is a small town, like Murray, and there is a photo on the net showing these guys who are ready to go. They must have had some basic training as the five of them are already in a common uniform. I can imagine that the boat ride overseas was an eyeopener for them. I am sure they are all farmboys headed to war.
An unknown soldier from the United States stands straight to have his photo taken. My knowledge of the history of those who fought in the first war is still pretty weak. I thank the blog prompter who set it up for bringing into another realm. I am not done looking for information about those people who served in early times overseas.
The finding of the cemetery log is going to be fun for me. I have found relatives of my Abernathy roots who have three people buried in the Murray Cemetery. Why they are there is a mystery as all other Abernathys are buried in a rural cemetery north of town on a gravel road in Union county. I also found my Aunt Ruby's grave with her husband in the old section of the cemetery. She is buried up there as her husband's family had many plots for about three generations to use. I knew she was buried there but never way up on the hill with the old stones.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I have posted photos before from another album that had 1880's images. Most of that album is full of people of the past from the Osceola, Iowa, Graves Photography. This book is full of photos from the Fort Wayne, Indiana area. There were two different photography studios that this family used in having themselves photographed. The album seems to be of a similar time period as the Iowan album. It has many family members in it that look alike.
I will retell the story of how the two albums that I have were left in an abandoned house. My dad tore down the house to create a new home. I am sorry if you have followed me for a while because I do find myself repeating things as the years go by.
When I sold the newer home that replaced this one in the picture, I had a realtor that went to school across the street from the old house He remembered it always being there his elementary school years. He also said kids had nicknamed it the towns haunted mansion.
Being these photos are not of people who lived in the house, the only connection to the story so far is that the album from Fort Wayne, Indiana was in the house and was left behind by relatives. Maybe it was on an in law side of the family and those who emptied the house just didn't want to bother with the trunks.
Jarrard Photography was the business that took most of the photos. I don't see any identity of a company on any of the smaller shots.
F. Shanz Studio was another business that took some of the photos. The couple in the left photo above were not to be wed for long as the guy died, They used a different pose of the man as they made up his funeral card. The photo has the studio identified and even the street number but no name or date was included on the card.
A not so clear photo from the album shows sisters maybe. At first the top person looked like it could have been a guy but the hair seems to be more like a girls hair with a hat pressed down over it.
Boy or girl I do not know but the young child reminds me of the adults in facial features. It looks like a boy to me but I am sure others could see something differently.
I would like to scan all of the photos someday and put them through a facial recognition program to see what the full grouping would be. I think their are brothers and sisters in here. I am assuming some of the smaller ones are cousins to the whole group. That mystery continues to be until I get my act together. Right now I am Act 2 and someday will come to Act III when I get some of it figured out.
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