Friday, October 5, 2018
Learning More About
Someone Else's Family
Learning that several of the hundred-year-old photographs I've rescued from a northern California antique shop actually are of people related to each other makes me remember to slow down and take my time in identifying these subjects. After all, just as we saw with the picture I described yesterday, it may turn out that I have more than one photograph of the same person.
In this case, it turns out I have another picture of the daughters from the children's photo we saw last week. The two girls from that picture were labeled as Mabel Theresa and Myrtle Ivy Purkey. I'd estimate the younger of the two sisters, Myrtle, born in 1892, was about three or four years of age at the time of that portrait. Since their baby brother (not in the photograph), Verna Louis, didn't arrive until 1897, perhaps fixing the date of the photograph as 1895 or 1896 would make more sense.
With the photograph I began telling you about yesterday, we get to see the girls when they were a little older. By this time, younger sister Myrt looked like a teenager, perhaps ten years or more after the previous portrait was taken.
While the previous photograph—the younger version of the siblings—had no identification of the photography studio, the newer picture did. It was taken at The Black Studio in Pocatello, Idaho, the same town where the Purkey family showed up in the 1900 census—in fact, where the family likely lived, ever since Myrtle's birth there in 1892.
If the Purkey sisters' picture was taken when Myrt was about sixteen, that would mean a date of around 1908. However, her older sister Mabel got married early in 1907—to Thomas C. Pratt in Bannock County, Idaho—and I suspect this portrait might have been something taken before that date, perhaps as a memento of a time when they were both still sisters at home. It's hard to tell, though, because in the picture, both of the sisters have their hands behind their backs, depriving us of a glimpse of any telltale ring. Perhaps they were actually older than my guess, and Mabel was already married.
Still, as this is not my own family—and thus I am not privileged to the family legends passed down through the generations in the Purkey, Pratt, or Brockman families—we won't know for sure until we find a descendant who might be interested in receiving these photos back home again...and filling in the blanks on this family's stories.
Above: Undated photograph of sisters Myrtle and Mabel Purkey, taken at The Black Studio in Pocatello, Idaho; picture currently in the possession of the author until claimed by a direct descendant of either of the two Purkey sisters.