Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Family Photograph — Plus Grandkids?
It is not unusual to encounter large families when researching the typical photographs of one hundred years ago. So, for researching one photograph I found in a northern California antique shop, I figured I was looking at mom, dad, and all the kids. There were, in all, eight people in this particular photograph, taken back in Bourbon, Indiana.
The label on the reverse—thankfully, it was a picture to which someone had thought to add names—seemed somewhat confusing. If my guess is right, it looked like someone first wrote, "Elmira's family," and then, as an afterthought, added what looked like the words, "and Maude Wymse."
Although the handwriting was not the same as on the other photographs I had found during that antiquing trip to Sonora, California, I thought there was a good chance that this picture might still be related to the families tied to the other photographs. I had already learned, from researching the Purkey family for the other photos, that Erastus Purkey and his sister Pleasant—whom we discussed last week—happened to have an older sister named Olive Elmira Purkey.
Elmira—as she was labeled in several census records—married a man named George Wymer in Marshall County, Indiana. Records indicate their marriage occurred on February 21, 1878. By the time of the 1880 census, appearing in a household in Bourbon, Indiana, were George and Elmira Wymer, along with their one year old daughter, Maude.
By the time of the photograph I had found—taken in that same Bourbon, Indiana—the family had presumably expanded to include (at least) the eight people showing in the picture. As late as the 1910 census, however, the Wymer family never showed that they had any more than three children—their daughter Maude plus two sons, Charlie and Frank. What was up with that? Did I have the wrong people?
Of course, by the time of the 1900 census, Maude was no longer listed in her parents' family. By then, she, herself, had been married to Jesse Reed in Marshall County in 1897. The Reed household, by then located in Chicago at the time of the 1900 census, included both Jesse and Maude and their two daughters—Elmira and George's first two grandchildren—Donna and Verda.
Could the photo I found include not only George and Elmira Wymer and their two sons, but also their daughter Maude and her husband and two little girls? That would provide the right count. And, since Verda looks like she was still a babe in arms, it would place the time frame for the picture after 1900, the year Verda was born.
Squeezing in the other end of the possible time frame for this picture were three dates. One was the arrival of Jesse and Maude's third baby in 1903. The other occurrence was the death of Jesse, sometime after the birth of their son in 1905 and Maude's subsequent remarriage in 1908. And certainly, the portrait would have had to be taken before the patriarch, George Wymer himself, passed away in 1912.
My guess is that the family got together some time around 1901, back home in Indiana, to capture that photograph of the grandchildren for Elmira and George to have as a keepsake, since those grandchildren would be growing up so far from home. But then, that's if my hunch that this picture includes the Wymers' three children plus their first two grandchildren proves to be correct.