Friday, April 12, 2019
An Easy Job Made Difficult
One would have thought, finding a second photograph of a candidate for the Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts whose likeness I found in a California antique shop, that it would be an easy matter of comparing and contrasting. Nope: too much contrasting. The details are driving me to distraction. I've reviewed everything I had found on each of the three candidate couples from Iowa—ruling out the third for a vastly different time period and ages at marriage—back when I first wrote about the couples in December and January. And I believe the best course to take at this point is to move forward, blindfolded.
Yep. That's right. My eyes are likely deceiving me. Let's look at the numbers. Albert number one, living in Fremont County, was born in 1869—well, at least that's what it looked like when we consider his father's report in the 1880 census when Albert was eleven years old. Albert married widow Alice Dooley Eachus in 1889, listing his age then as twenty. She was possibly twenty six, as the register reported, and considering the 1900 census gave her date of birth as October, 1864, that would approximately support the other date.
Okay, taking a peek here, I have to ask myself: does the groom in the original photograph look like he was barely twenty? Did his bride look six years older than he was?
I suppose the answers to those questions could be debated. But here's the clincher: considering that Albert number two was married eleven years later—on New Year's Day in 1900—does that original photograph include garb which looks like something a bride and groom would wear to welcome in that new century?
Scrolling through the fashion plates of 1900 through 1909, those examples hardly look like the new threads our Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts might have been photographed in for their momentous occasion. Even if Council Bluffs, Iowa, wasn't exactly on the cutting edge of high society fashion, the silhouette cut by Mrs. Roberts' outfit doesn't even seem to be a throwback to the previous decade. Her style looks much more in place with the date of Albert Roberts number one's wedding: 1889.
Which begs the question I posed yesterday: could Albert and Alice have aged that much between the time of their 1889 wedding photo and the date of their family portrait? When was that family portrait taken, anyhow? In 1893, before baby Eva made her appearance in April? Perhaps that was why Alice seemed heavier than in her bridal pose.
Then, too, a time span of only four years seems to have weathered poor Mr. Roberts quite a bit, considering the change in his appearance from the wedding picture to the family portrait. Was that twenty year old already sporting a comb-over? Could he have gone that prematurely bald as young as his mid twenties?
These nagging questions push me to wonder whether the Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts whose photograph I found in California might well have been a totally different couple who just happened to stop in at the Sherradan studio to sit for their portrait on their way to an entirely different destination. For all I know, this could have been a couple spending the weekend in Council Bluffs from Omaha. Or Sioux City. Or Des Moines.
Some suggestions which arose from the first time I explored this question included checking other online resources for family trees and seeking other sources for family photographs. I'm in the process of exploring trees at MyHeritage, FindMyPast, FamilySearch, WikiTree and Geni, especially seeking anyone with family photos of the second Albert Roberts. While I certainly have not completed that process, I haven't yet gotten any leads. And though the Fremont County Historical Society has been kind to allow me to post my query—as well as the photo I found—on their Facebook page, I haven't found anyone there yet who has other family photos, especially for that under-represented second candidate for the Roberts couple.
It appears this is still a work in progress...