Friday, September 30, 2011

Three, Again

Three girls pose for their portrait at the studio of Theodore von Dieck on 92nd Street in south Chicago. Are they sisters? Cousins? Childhood friends?

The setting of three reminds me of another portrait in this collection from Edna Tully McCaughey. And yet, I know better than to succumb to the temptation to match these two sets. The differences in the faces of this younger trio are quite marked.

Again, I have no notion of who these three girls might be. I leave them here for whoever cares to take a guess, or just observe and enjoy the details of a bygone era.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Last of the Mystery Men

Three more gentlemen posed for their portraits in Chicago studios and then gave a copy of their likeness to the family of Edna Tully McCaughey, leaving me to puzzle over their identity. Potential suitors? Friends of the family? Though one of the photographs even includes a clue as to possible name, nary a trace of data provides me with connections.

Though I’m vaguely haunted with a sense that I’ve seen this face in other family settings, I have no solid evidence for the identity of this first gentleman. He was a patron of the Morrison studio at the Haymarket Theater on 161 West Madison Street. Could he have been a friend of any of the young ladies who, with Edna as a teenager, frequented Chicago theaters? She had noted in her diary about some of the young men serving as ushers.

The next photograph, portraying a somewhat older gentleman and done by the Lindner studio, may also have been of a family acquaintance—though I can barely restrain myself from connecting the dots and playing family matchmaker here. I think he vaguely resembles the little nameless girl in the plaid dress, and I want to presume he is her father. Then again—and here I am once again handicapped by my lack of skill in identifying period costume details—this man’s collar is somewhat reminiscent of the clerical collars worn nowadays by some priests; perhaps he is a father of a different type.

The last picture in this series of unidentified men has a tantalizing wisp of a hint with a handwritten name on the back. I presume it was a note written by the photographer, von Dieck, to help file pictures in their proper locations.

The hurried handwriting makes the note look like “Ms. O’Keefe,” but I know that “Ms.” is a totally improbable title usage in that time period. Since I’ve also seen handwriting of that time period seem to form “r” as if it were an “s,” I’ll consider the obvious and take that label to be “Mr. O’Keefe.”

But where does that lead me? Nowhere! I have no genealogical record of any Tully family member marrying into the O’Keefe line in Chicago. Nor can I find any in the usual research places. Tantalizingly enough, I did discover that the founder of a current-day business known as Tully’s Coffee is named Tom O’Keefe—Tom Tully O’Keefe, to be exact. However, for some strange reason, his middle name is there as a nod to his mother’s Greek heritage, according to a Seattle Times article.

So much for Irish connections.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

At Least the Others Had Labels…

Just when I thought I couldn’t find anything more to complain about, I run into more reasons to grumble. At least all my nameless photos had labels detailing the identity of the photographer and the address of the studio. That, for some persistent soul, might be a toe-hold on sleuthing possibilities—time frames, neighborhood locations.

These two women’s photographs, however, offer absolutely nothing. No clues. No leads. The only thing I know for sure is that somehow they made it into the hands of Edna Tully McCaughey, who passed them along to her descendants.

So, lacking any better terms, I shall label them “The Pink Lady” and “The Blue Lady,” after the color of the cards that hold their pictures.

The Pink Lady, at first glance, seems rather austere, but on closer examination, is adorned with lace and accompanied by her fan. I would so love to find out who she is, but lacking any frame of reference, doubt that I will ever know the origin or connection of The Pink Lady to the Tully family.

The Blue Lady has a singular presentation. I can’t help but be drawn to that intense gaze, but when her eyes release me, I marvel at the unnatural contortions the pose demands of her arms.

I so long to know these women’s stories, but I guess that is a wish that was never meant to be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wondering About More Women

Here are more photographs of Chicago women from the collection of Edna Tully McCaughey. Alas, no names for subjects, but at least identifying insignia are provided for the photographers—including two establishments favored by close family members.

This first photograph, however, is the only one in the collection to be taken by Arlington Studios at 289 Wabash Avenue. The subject does not bear a resemblance to any Tully family members that I am aware of. One guess would be the wife of a Tully, if there is even that close a relationship.

Of course, addresses have changed with the reworking of the city numbering system in the past century. But just for fun, checking with my trusty MapQuest as if that address for Arlington Studios remained the same, I found Wabash Avenue to run to the heart of downtown Chicago, close to the Art Institute—not quite the south Chicago neighborhood of most of the family at that time.

On the other hand, Wabash extends, intermittently, to the south, paralleling the Dan Ryan Expressway, and continuing even below 99th Street. A little check to determine address conversions will better help locate this studio, although it will still be a challenge, as there is no entry for the studio in Chicago Photographers, 1847-1900: As Listed in Chicago City Directories.

One studio that has been used, however, is that of Lindner. Doing business at 9222 Commercial Avenue, Charles W. Lindner’s studio served his community throughout the decade of the 1890s. Sometime during his tenure there, this next subject must have commemorated a special occasion in that rare light—or maybe even white—dress so unusual during that time period.

I am so tempted to think that this third item, from Jarmuth studio, might be a photo of the young Edna, herself, as the resemblance is there in some of the facial details. Edna did mention in her diary about getting her picture taken at Jarmuth for her sixteenth birthday. But the time frame would be incorrect—Edna was born in 1890—and the glasses that frame this woman’s eyes are not something Edna had worn in her other photographs. Perhaps a close family resemblance? A sister? It doesn’t appear to be the mother, Sarah Swanton Tully, at least judging by those photographs showing her in more mature stages of life. The only Tully relative that I was aware used glasses was Edna’s cousin Agnes Tully, and I am certain that this would not be a photograph of the young Agnes. Until I can find out more—which may be never—it will have to suffice as just another unnamed pretty face in this century-old collection.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Same Person, Different Pictures?

Sometimes, I look at pictures and see resemblances, then jump to conclusions hastily. I’ve really had to learn to restrain myself. But this time, I can’t help myself: I think these two photographic subjects are of such close relationship as to be one and the same person.

Of course, though I know their photographs come from the collection of Edna Tully McCaughey, and at least have a slim chance of being related to our Tully family, I don’t know enough about the studio or city to form any opinion as to who this subject might be.

Actually, I don’t know a thing about Pullman, Illinois. For starters, I don’t have any other Tully relatives in my database hailing from that location, so I’ve never researched it. Then, I’ve never met anyone else who comes from that town, so I have absolutely no frame of reference. Except…

There is this one thing. Pullman, huh? Sounds vaguely familiar—like railroad era heritage. And that is exactly what it is. A town designed to be a model planned community for the employees of the Pullman company—which, upon Pullman’s demise, was annexed to the City of Chicago.

And here I was thinking Pullman, Illinois, would be somewhere miles away in the cornfields of the “Prairie State.”

As for the mystery lady of today’s post, she had her likeness taken at the studio of Thomas S. Johnson, who, I learned from comments to an entry by Flick member “What’s That Picture," may have been Pullman’s first part-time photographer. The time frame may have been mid to late 1880s for these poses.

The only thing I can conclude thus far, then, is that somewhere south of the south Chicago where the Tully family and relatives lived, this young lady lived and benefited from the well-planned neighborhood in which her father most certainly must have worked.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Gents

Since I possess precious few century-old pictures from my own family, I’ve fancied photographs from that era to be a rare occurrence. Yet, when I consider all the far-flung geographic locations for the studios from which this collection's portraits originate, I struggle to figure out any familial connections for these "rare occurrences."

On the other hand, nowadays, we give away pictures of ourselves, not only to family but to friends and even to acquaintances, giving little thought to expense or scarcity. Perhaps, as I muse over these last few unidentified photos from the collection of Edna Tully McCaughey, I need to consider that, even in those times, some people may have found the means to dole out their likenesses in less of a stingy, miserly fashion than my portrait-deprived situation leads me to imagine.

Regardless of whether these are family or friends, here are the last of the out-of-town photographic callers for the Tully and McCaughey families.

Take this first portrait. It was done in Brazil, Indiana. I didn’t even know where Brazil, Indiana, is. I knew of the Sullivan and Clifford family connections in Valparaiso, just over the state line from the Tully family home in Chicago. But, only thanks to a peek at the handy MapQuest, I can see that it is a long way from any familial homestead to the town of Brazil. Like three hours kind of long way—and that’s by today’s travel methods. Whoever this gentleman was who posed for his portrait at the City Gallery photographer I am at a loss to imagine. Unless it was a family member on vacation (to a small town southwest of Indianapolis???), I’m going to have to say perhaps it was a generous (or perhaps narcissistic) friend.

Moving from southwest Indiana past hometown Chicago in the opposite direction, this next handsome young buck chose a studio known as The Robinson in Duluth, Minnesota, for his portrait. Thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society’s Directory of Minnesota Photographers, I can see that J. B. Robinson, the principal for that studio, was in business at 209 West Superior Street in Duluth for the years 1892-1893. No…wait…the directory also has a separate entry for the same studio, showing the photographer in business there in 1897. Confusing? I’ll just stick with the decade of the 1890s and call it quits (although I sure would like to know who this subject is).

Minnesota connections are tempting, making it hard for me to put that question aside. After all, these photographs were actually mailed to me from Minnesota, where the collection currently resides. Edna Tully McCaughey, herself, though a Chicago girl who ultimately was buried there, evidently spent the last moments of her life in the vicinity of St. Paul in Minnesota. It makes me wonder what brought that part of the family to Minnesota, and whether this man might actually have been a McCaughey relative, rather than a Tully, Sullivan or Clifford relation.

Coming totally out of left field, the third portrait originates in Saint Louis. It turns out that photographer F. W. Guerin did not dabble merely in run-of-the-mill family sittings. His products bear an ornate reverse side, boasting of his awards and achievements. A number of online resources attest to his skill and fame, and provide the time frame of his business operation in Saint Louis. I've even found discussions on this photographer online at a genealogy forum.

As impressive as that record may have been, it still leaves me with no clue as to how this photograph's subject fits into the Chicago Tully family scheme. Chalk this one up for unidentified friend until further notice.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wisconsin Women (And One Man)

While most of the photographs included in this collection belonging to the family of Edna Tully McCaughey are from Chicago, there are some from distant family in other states. Because Edna’s grandmother, Mary Ann Sullivan, had lived in Wisconsin for a while after her family’s emigration from their native Ireland, her sister Julia married and remained there in the north. Edna’s own Aunt Nell (Ellen Swanton) had a son who also moved to Wisconsin.

I’m keeping both of these possibilities in mind when I ponder the identities of these two older women, both posing at studios in Wisconsin. And yet, I have no way to know who they really were, as there are no markings other than the studio’s business imprint. I can’t even guess about the time frames involved at this point.

The first portrait, a sitting done at the Armstrong studio in Milwaukee, looks similar to another picture of Julia Sullivan Dockery. But not quite. As I am not familiar with her appearance as she aged, though, I can’t be certain of this.

The second photograph, done at the studio of Charles F. Turner in Janesville, Wisconsin, features an elderly woman with what looks to me to be a lively personality. There is determination and spunk written all over her face, making me really wish I knew who that person was.

Since I am drawing to a close with this series featuring the unidentified relatives of this Tully family, I’m including this last of the collection's photographs that originated in Wisconsin. This time, the subject is a gentleman, stopping in on State Street at the corner of Third for his sitting at the establishment of Wilde in Milwaukee.

While this concludes the section of Tully family photographs from their Wisconsin relatives, there are still several more mystery pictures to round out the series. Tomorrow, I’ll continue with more gentlemen from several other locations.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Young Life, Chicago Style

After a journey of more than one hundred years, something is bound to be lost. I just wish it wasn’t the names.

Here are more unidentified subjects from the photo collection of Edna Tully McCaughey. I am tempted to think this first picture represents children from the Clifford family, as the Columbia Studio on Commercial Avenue has been used by that family for at least one other portrait. Actually, that family setting of children Tom and Ann Clifford is the only other picture in this collection originating from Columbia Studio. But lacking any date or other identifying information, I need to leave the possibility open that these children could be from another Tully or Sullivan relation.

The girl in this next photo doesn’t seem to resemble any family likenesses I’ve seen so far, though the Lindner studio is certainly one that has been used by many members of this extended clan. Once again, I’ll set aside the temptation to become a family-member matchmaker.

Perhaps this last picture is from a later era. I’m not sure what the “Photo Novelties” tag means in the business name for this photographer. Stafflin was a studio at 8235 East End Avenue, but I could hardly call this a posed studio production. It seems so much more informal—probably something for which the young male subject is thankful. However, the fact that no other photographs in this collection originate from this photographer complicates matters as far as any hopes for identification of subjects is concerned. And who knows—could this be a work production, showing each of the delivery boys for a Chicago company? Or is this just a fun shot of a young boy?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Did They Name That Baby?

My daughter is a collector of books on names and their origin. Names have meanings, and each name’s meaning is important to her.

Looking through her collection one day, I was amazed to see the title of a book I remember my own mother once owning: What Shall We Name the Baby? First published in 1941, this title is evidently a classic. If not, it at least poses a classic question.

For each of these cherubs I’ve found in the photograph collection of Edna Tully McCaughey, I’m sure the parents gave pause to consider that very question. They may even have agonized over the selection of just the right name. Here’s the rub, though: whatever their decision, no one took the time to note that carefully-crafted choice on the back of these pictures. The only thing I can surmise about the subjects of these portraits is that they are Tully relations.

This little one, above right, sweetly captured by the Madsen studio on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, may have been the apple of a Tully father’s eye, or perhaps was the child of another family living somewhat to the south of the 92nd Street neighborhood that William Tully’s family frequented in the late 1800s. If only the ones who adored her had thought to mark the back of the card that captured her likeness!

With a perky bow placed just so in the hair of this next sweetheart, she made a charming subject for parents who chose to do their business with the von Dieck studio on 92nd Street in Chicago. Was it family preference that led these parents to select this photographer? If so, would there be a relationship between this child and others represented from this studio? I’ll never know; there was no marking on this photo to help determine that.

It may not be a lack on the part of Chicago parents of that era, though, for this collection includes another proud set of parents—this time from Milwaukee—with the same problem. The studio that captured this sweet portrait was Broich and Kremer on 116 Grand Avenue. The parents, however, neglected to note those carefully-selected baby names.

Perhaps this is not a geographically-spreading epidemic, though. Perhaps it is a genetic failing. I must confess to the same fault. After all, didn’t everyone know that was my sweet daughter in all those photographs that I have given away?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aw, Ma, Do I Have To?

“Boys will be boys” is a saying, I suspect, that has historical precedent. How, then, did these mothers manage to secure the kind of cooperation evidenced by portraits such as these?

Perhaps taken upon the graduation of the older of what looks like two brothers, this first pose featured from the collection of Edna Tully McCaughey was captured by South Chicago photographer von Dieck, located at “92nd Street and Ontario Avenue.” The studio location of 92nd Street is just right to suggest the possibility that this may be a Tully family relative, but owing to the unknown time frame, that could only be a guess at this point.

There was a von Dieck photography studio at 92nd street from 1892 through at least 1900, according to city directories, but online maps do not indicate any crossing of the two streets, Ontario Avenue and 92nd street. Furthermore, it appears that the listing of the two streets for this photographer may indicate two separate studios, one operated by father Theodore, one by his son, inserting a twist into this quest to determine identity by family neighborhood proximity.

I sometimes wonder if this second photograph is of a brother of the first two boys—or perhaps an earlier portrait of one of those boys at a younger age. Though the photographer is different, the location is still in the vicinity of Von Dieck’s 92nd Street studio: Jarmuth at 9130 Commercial Avenue in Chicago. However, not knowing the time frame, identity and possible relationship provide only a guess.

Moving closer to a photographer known to be used by the William and Sarah Tully family, the third portrait is done by Lindner, located on Commercial Avenue. I sometimes think the younger boy resembles little Roy Tully, although if the other child is his older brother, the date of the elder’s death predates the birth of the younger; that photograph never would have been possible.

Whoever these children all turn out being, they most certainly all breathed a sigh of relief and went back to rough-and-tumble boyhood the minute they were dismissed from their mother’s watchful eye. I can hardly say I’d be convinced otherwise, regardless of the elegant poses devised by these south Chicago photographers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dashing Dandies

The phrase, “Hamilton, O.,” is one that has given me quite a bit of grief in the last few years of research. It was written on a number of papers and photographs in the Tully family belongings.

In that typical way of notating states during the 1800s and early 1900s, “O.” would be presumed to mean Ohio. That is—until I found out that the Tully family not only had relatives living outside Cincinnati in Hamilton, Ohio, but that they also had family still in Ontario. And yes, you guessed it—one of the towns near these Tully relations was, in fact, also referred to as Hamilton, O.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

When I’m trying to figure out the information on some of these family papers, it leaves me with two choices: shall I consider the entry as referring to the Tully relatives who moved to Ohio? Or those who have not yet moved out of the province of Ontario?

In the case of this photograph above, thankfully I am not obliged to muddle that out. The inscription on the lower edge of the frame makes it clear this is from Hamilton, Ontario. So perhaps I am viewing a descendent of the mysterious Margaret Tully whom I’ve not been able to find since her childhood years in the home of her parents, Denis and Margaret (Flannery) Tully. After leaving their native Ireland, the patriarch of our Tully line settled for a time in Paris Village, outside Brantford, in what is now Ontario. It is, in today’s terms, a quick drive from Brantford to Hamilton, where the subject of this photograph stopped by the Farmer Brothers studio on 10 King Street West on some unknown date. I presume it took him longer than half an hour to make his journey into town. Regardless of who this is, or how far he traveled, by all looks of the portrait, the subject appears to have been quite pleased with his likeness.

Then, again, this could be someone from the other side of the family—not William Tully’s relatives, but his wife Sarah Swanton’s relatives. Her mother’s Sullivan line did have relatives in Simcoe County, and though that would have been a longer trip to this Hamilton studio, I suppose it would be possible. Or perhaps there is another family possibility I’ve not yet uncovered.

Though the next photograph doesn’t entangle me in any enigma of postal abbreviations, it still leaves me thoroughly stumped. The studio, A. A. Bish of Chippewa Falls, presents a portrait much like the other, in terms of full-length presentation. As far as the identity of the subject, however, I am clueless. I did find out that Chippewa Falls is a town in Wisconsin, and since some Sullivan relations as well as Clifford descendants moved from their Chicago and Indiana homes to Wisconsin, I considered a few possibilities in those lines. However, when I checked MapQuest for proximities of the towns where these descendents settled, it is nowhere near a convenient trip into town for any of those family members to pose for his likeness.

And so, once again, I leave these portraits out in the ether, to be found and hopefully identified by some long-lost relative.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dapper Gents

Here’s a fine fellow to come calling for a Tully daughter. Or perhaps he is a Tully relative—or a young Clifford, Ryan, or Sullivan relation, come to Chicago for a visit. Whoever he is, he at least shares the Tully family’s preference for photographers: the Lindner studio at 9222 Commercial Avenue in South Chicago.

The rounded lines of his clothing certainly contrast with the usual male blockiness of the fashions in the other photographs in this collection. I don’t know whether that indicates a different time frame or a younger taste in styles. How helpful it would be, in identifying these pictures, to know the dates for various clothing fashions!

Perhaps this next picture shows one of those “older” styles. Maybe this is a practical-dressing, cold-weather-savvy Wisconsin cousin—or maybe even an uncle—of this collection’s original owner, Edna Tully McCaughey. Whether he lived there or just stopped by for a visit, the subject of this well-worn portrait chose Sutter’s Studio at 108 Grand Avenue, on the corner of West Water Street in Milwaukee, to capture his likeness.

The most aggravating of these three photos is this last one, shown below. It comes with no identifying business markings that I could find, front or back. I have no idea whether this is a Chicago relative, or one from Wisconsin, Indiana, or other states in which Sarah Swanton Tully’s family settled. For that matter, it could be a relative from Canada, as there were some Sullivan relations who settled there and married into the McCabe family in the province of Ontario.

This leaves me with that vague feeling that my hope of someone discovering a long-lost relative online in these posts is an unlikely possibility.

But that doesn’t stop me from hoping.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Couple Couples

What to do with hundred-year-old photographs of people no one remembers? I don’t know what you would do, but I can’t bear to not let them see the light of day. Without much fanfare, I’m going to spend the next week assembling like poses and posting those groupings. Since I don’t know what to say about these people, I won’t be saying much. Consider this my penance for not participating in GeneaBloggers’ “Wordless Wednesdays.” This may not be a month of Sundays, but let’s count it as my Week of Wednesdays.

Could this first picture be a wedding memento? I know that white as the color for wedding gowns was not in vogue until Great Britain’s Queen Victoria made her fashion statement in the ceremony in which she wed Prince Albert in 1840—and, in any case, did not become a custom followed by women of more humble standing in rough-and-tumble regions of the midwestern United States until many decades later. Interesting enough, this Wikipedia entry on the topic uses for an example a photograph from the same studio—Lindner—as that featured today from Edna Tully McCaughey’s collection.

In today’s world, it would be a short ten-mile drive up Interstate 90 from the Lindner studio on Commercial Avenue to the 1870s studio of Henry Iverson on 117 Archer Avenue in Chicago. Just as close is the pose struck by these two couples. 

At first glance, I almost thought this might have been the same couple, but a closer examination of the details tells otherwise. Oh, how I wish I knew who these couples were!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sisters? Cousins?

I am winding my way through the rest of the photograph collection from the family of Edna Tully McCaughey. It looks like there is precious little more I can decipher, from the scant information provided, that can be used to identify any more mystery people.

I had thought, just once more, to give it a try and figure out this photograph: three young women forming a sweet tableau of a family story I’d love to discover. The photograph is labeled clearly; the work is done by A. E. Hayes, proprietor of Imperial Art Studio in Valparaiso, Indiana. With a business name as ambitious as that, one would think there were no need to further identify the establishment—“opp. Central Hotel”—but, alas, as it turns out, it is, indeed, difficult to locate, at least from a historical perspective.

Not skilled at discerning the signs of time periods, I had at first thought perhaps this was a photograph of three sisters. Since the studio was in Valparaiso, Indiana, I assumed the girls would be from the Ryan family there—Edna Tully McCaughey’s mother’s half-sisters. Edna’s mother, Sarah, had three half-sisters: Emma, Johanna, and Mary. Growing up in Valparaiso, these girls were born in the mid-1860s, putting all three of them in their young adulthood sometime in the late 1880s.

That was a great conjecture…until I discovered that Emma died as a thirteen-year-old girl in 1877. It’s doubtful that this pose of young women was captured before that time.

Perhaps the time frame was actually a little later, I mused. Perhaps this was not Edna’s aunts, but cousins from Valparaiso. Handily, Edna’s Aunt Nellie (Ellen Swanton Clifford) happened to have three daughters, too: Anna, Sarah, and Grace. Birthdays for these girls fell in a more recent time frame, spanning the mid-1880s through 1890.

There were drawbacks to that theory, as well. I’ve already shared Sarah’s portrait from that time frame, and she doesn’t seem to resemble the young ladies in this photograph. Also, if this picture represents young ladies approaching their twenties, considering Grace’s later birth date, the photograph would probably need to be taken after about 1905. But—get ready for another theory’s crash and burn—both Grace and the baby of the family, William Patrick, were born after the family moved from Valparaiso to Chicago. The only occasion for a photograph in Valparaiso for this family would be upon their return to visit their grandmother. However, she passed away in Valparaiso in 1906, once again limiting the time frame for this possibility.

Of course, it would help in determining possible dates if I were knowledgeable about period costuming, but I’m not. I did spend quite a bit of time doing online searches for clues about possible time periods for the photography studio, the hotel, even the name of the proprietor. While I did find several city directories online, the search terms never seemed to coalesce into one identifiable entity.

In the meantime, I did enjoy a “cruise” through historic Valparaiso, enjoying various online venues sharing glimpses of the city which serves as county seat for Porter County. Whoever it was that sat for this portrait—be they sisters, cousins, or just friends—they had a lovely town to call “home.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photographic History

I had a little fun last night. Actually, I was desperately seeking a way out of a problem with some of these Tully family photos, and stumbled upon a directory that might turn out to be somewhat helpful. Helpful, that is, until the turn of the century. That century.

I’ve been emailing with the historian for the organization now known as the National Catholic Society of Foresters, seeking to find any archived information on Mrs. Thomas (Johanna) Sullivan. Johanna was the stately woman discussed in two recent posts.

Desperate to find another way to identify more information on Mrs. Sullivan, I Googled the studio where the Sullivans’ photograph was taken, Fein and Schnabel. I hardly expected to locate such a serendipitous find as I did, but here it is: an online reprint of the Chicago Historical Society’s survey, “Chicago Photographers 1847 Through 1900, as Listed in Chicago City Directories.”

Et voilĂ ! Instant confirmation of possible dates of pictures—well, at least until 1900.

So I played around with this little toy. A little slow on the uptake it might be (I did experience some website apologies on some of my online forays there), but I still say it’s a handy little reference spot.

So, take a test drive with me.

Remember the distinguished gentleman in the unidentified uniform from yesterday? In this directory, I found that the studio that did his portrait was actually owned by Otto C. Jarmuth, who originally did business at 9222 Commercial Avenue in Chicago. That’s according to this website, which found photographer Otto C. Jarmuth listed in Chicago’s city directories, beginning in 1895. By 1897, Otto had moved his business down the street to 9130 Commercial Avenue, renaming the business, “Jarmuth Studio.” The listing continued there through the end date of the report, 1900.

How about those photographs of William and Sarah Tully’s three sons? The family’s preferred photographer seemed to be Lindner, found in this directory under Charles W. Lindner at 9222 Commercial, listed in Chicago directories from 1890 onward, with the exception of 1895. Lindner was also the photographer for the young child pictured above. A handwritten note by the studio on the reverse divulged the location of the studio's customer: “Mrs. Mary Tulley, 150 92nd Street.” Perhaps now, given the parameters of the dates plus the client’s address, I can figure out whose picture that is.

And what about that child posing with hands to mouth? The von Dieck studio, listed on the photograph at 92nd Street and Ontario Avenue, shows in the Chicago directory at that address starting in 1892.

The directory doesn’t tell me everything I’d like to know about these photographs, but this online find is a keeper—at least it gives me a guide as to time frames for the many unidentified Chicago photographs whose subjects I am now pursuing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Man in Uniform

Identifying a man based on the details of his uniform shouldn’t be so difficult, right? At least that’s what I thought when I first saw this picture. Lifted from the collection of photographs on loan to me from the family of Edna Tully McCaughey, this subject immediately grabbed my attention. Knowing that Edna had an uncle in the police force of the parks department in the City of Chicago, I had hoped that this would be John Tully’s portrait. But in our subsequent visit to our Chicago relatives, a quick comparison of facial features disabused me of that notion.

That leaves me solely to rely on an All Points Bulletin to researchers knowledgeable about uniforms—military and others—who might somehow render an answer, or at least provide further guidance.

Until then, the only thing I can surmise from the photograph is that the subject, somehow, may be a relative of William or Sarah Swanton Tully. Because the picture was taken at Jarmuth, a studio at 9120 Commercial Street in Chicago, the field of possible suspects may further be limited. Jarmuth, in fact, was the studio mentioned by William’s daughter Edna in her diary, where she had her picture taken for her “sweet 16” birthday. Perhaps others in the family had patronized the studio previously, and young Edna was merely following suit.

Yet, the facial features of both John Tully (Edna’s uncle, the policeman) and cousin William Tully (John’s son and Edna’s cousin, seen at far left in his sister’s wedding photo, who may have donned a uniform for his work as a street car conductor) don’t resemble the subject of this portrait. Edna’s father, himself, had served for a while as a railroad engineer, but it is doubtful that this type of garb would be used in that venture; at any rate, his 1896 death certificate noted his occupation at that time to be merchant, for which no uniform would generally be required.

I will have to be satisfied, at this point, in setting aside the portrait of this dignified gentleman until someone with further knowledge of clothing styles of that era can shed some light on possible parameters for his identity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ancient Orders & Ordinary Chicago Life

There must have been more to life in late 1890s Chicago than I can fathom by looking at today’s photographs and articles. Take the Ancient Order of Hibernians, for instance. I know a little about the AOH, mostly from what I’ve read online about its history in Ireland and across the Atlantic in New York, Boston, and the coal mines of Pennsylvania. But not in Chicago.

There is, admittedly, an online presence of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America’s Chicago Division 32, though the site also profiles the Ireland and East Coast heritage more than the history of their local domain. Though AOH certainly entails an organization with membership in the mother country and a hardy following on the east coast of the United States, the history reports I’ve read online don’t seem to include too many remembrances of the home country’s children that have dispersed to Chicago. And yet, Chicago claimed many Irish among its residents.

One of the pictures saved in the collection of the William and Sarah Tully family, for instance, is the one above. The inscription on the back of the photo explains that the flowers were for "Grandpa Tully," probably sent about the time of his funeral in late October, 1896. The fact that the picture has been kept and handed down through the generations is a token of the meaning that gesture held for the immediate family. However, I have yet to uncover anything in the Tully family history demonstrating that William was an active member of this organization—but they certainly made their presence known in the significant events in this family’s life.

Perhaps one of those items I need to include in my ever-expanding To-Do list is to seek a membership roll of the Hibernians to determine how many of our Chicago family members were actively involved. But wouldn’t the essence of being a secret society mean that no such list would be in existence?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Postscript for an Angel

I wanted to tie up another loose strand on the inscription written on the reverse of the Little Lost Angel’s portrait. Edna Tully McCaughey had explained that, in addition to Vivian Lester Bromley, “Aunt Marie” had two daughters from a former marriage. Thinking this might explain why the 1900 US Census had shown Marie Sullivan Lester to have claimed all three of her children were still alive though only one young child showed in the household, I played around with the information given—with only minimal luck, so far.

The two additional daughters were supposedly from one former marriage. Their names were given on the photograph inscription as Kitty Coffee and Margie Hansen. At that point, I had no idea the surname of that former marriage, but figured the two differing names of the daughters did not infer there were three marriages—I hoped.

When I found the old Rootsweb post from a Sullivan researcher the other day, I was encouraged when I saw a mention of Maria. Maria, herself, had been giving me grief with her elusive records, let alone those of the two daughters. But this post provided the missing former surname: Coffey.

Alas, though I thought that would be an easy-to-find, uncommon surname, it was not. To add to my woes, there were not only variations for the spelling, but multiple pairings of Sullivans and Coffees. And, it appears, in this pre-jet-set age, a couple with the same names were married in each of the family locales—Chicago and Wisconsin—adding no help to this tangle.

So, as I set aside this puzzle at its partially unscrambled stage, I take “Kitty Coffee” to be Catherine T. Calhoun, daughter of Patrick J. Coffey and Marie M. Sullivan, born September 9, 1874 in Chicago, dying May 22, 1930, in the same city. I presume “Margie Hansen” could be Margrete Josephine Coffey, though the parents listed on the transcription of her March 19, 1892, marriage record in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are Charles Coffey and May Sullivan Coffey. However, there is always room for a mistake. Though “Charles” in no way resembles the written form of “Patrick,” “May” at least was Maria’s middle name. The groom, handily, was surnamed a variation of Hansen—in this case, recorded as Frank Edward Hanson.

That, however, in no way matches the puzzle created by the fact that, on June 25 of that same year in Chicago, a couple by the names of Francis E. Hanson and Margaret J. Coffey were also married. Perhaps this is just my cue to set aside my attempt to unravel someone else’s family history.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Until Dreams Take the Place of Regrets

Yesterday’s post prompted me to take a “process break” from my usual observations on family heritage. I had mentioned yesterday that I let the visual cues from a picture lend me a mindset that caused me to make misinformed judgments. In this particular case, I let the picture of a child lead me to draw conclusions based on an assumed perpetuation of that childhood stage.

However, as I closed the article, I mentioned that the reverse also happens: when we see pictures of people from their last stages of life, we tend to also draw conclusions. Those conclusions—generally inferring that the current elderly appearance retroactively defines the whole of that person’s being—lead people to interact in a much different manner than if they could have had a relationship with the entire person.

This very thing was demonstrated to me so clearly five years ago, when my own mother was severely injured in a brutal car crash. Air-lifted to a trauma center for treatment, she was kept in a medically-induced coma until stabilized in preparation for surgical repair of her broken neck. During that time, of course, she could not speak for herself in any way that would form a relationship with the staff providing her nursing care.

Naturally, the nurses, looking at this disheveled survivor in her mid-eighties, were left to their own devices in formulating judgments of just who this person was. Everything from assumptions about her health to presumptions about her personality evolved from the cues of appearance. For instance, my mother was normally very slender, but the injuries had caused her to swell incredibly; this was taken to be the usual “fat” of old age. Because the neck surgery couldn’t be attempted based on other underlying health complications, and the neck had to be maintained solely by use of a brace called a halo, nursing and therapy staff based prognosis on what they assumed to be an “average” elderly patient, and thus didn’t urge her to do her best in treatment. Generally, she was left to be an “old woman.”

I don’t know what prompted me to do this, but when our family flew halfway across the country to be with her in those first few comatose days, I felt impressed to print a copy of one of her studio pictures—the one you see above—from the portfolio of her young, hopeful days as a professional dancer and actress. Without saying much, I posted the photograph on the wall next to her bed.

It didn’t take long for the staff to notice.

“Who is that?” they would ask, pointing to the picture. They would always be amazed to hear the answer. Thankfully, it gave me a credible opening to explain that, even up to the day before her crash—she was on the way to a hike in the hills after her customary daily workout when it happened—she was still able to replicate the steps of some of her former dance routines.

It wasn’t a sudden change, but nevertheless, I’d call it a dramatic reversal of perception. I’m grateful to say that, though I’m sure the treatment rendered was always of professional quality, it somehow became more human, more relationship-oriented, after the little insertion of that visual aid. The mental pictures we carry with us generate our every move more than we realize.

I come from a line of long-lived women. These are women who don’t begin to consider old age until dismissing their seventies. Tennis? Jogging? Golfing? No problem: these women engaged in life and hard work with endurance, often until they were in their late eighties or nineties.

But to tell someone that—especially professionals who are already trained to know better—is such a hard task. Seeing is truly believing. We are all captive to that fact. I’ve done the very same thing in my own professional work—see an old client, translate that visual snapshot into an entire lifetime of being. There is no denying that old age has its baggage, but somehow, no matter how old the cover, there is always a young person still resident inside, as historian Page Smith observed in the book on his own journey, Old Age Is Another Country.

John Barrymore is attributed with observing, “A man is never old until regrets take the place of dreams.” Perhaps that is what we see when we observe people whom we automatically label as elderly: we paint them with regrets.

And yet, what is it we seek to do when we delve into family history? We seek to strip these old people—these relatives we once may have known—of that late-stage veneer of regrets and repaint them with the freshness of the hopes they harbored throughout the many stages of their lives.

Now, as family historians, we may only paint by numbers—or worse, only connect the dots. But somehow, we hope to progress until we are accomplished at this portraiture and can deftly replicate the very nuances of their entire being.

We seek to reverse John Barrymore’s weary epitaph and permit those supplanted dreams to regain their rightful place.

That’s how I want to remember the people in my life.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lost Angel Found

Vivian May Lester Bromley  1892-1978
Collaboration: I’m cheering for it. Things go more smoothly; so much more can be accomplished when we put our heads together. None of this camel-is-a-horse-designed-by-committee stuff. I value the comments readers leave for these posts.

It’s “Intense Guy” who’s picked up the conversation on this one, again. When I posted the story about the Little Lost Angel the other day, I had thought that “Lester” was an unusual middle name for a young girl, but had set aside my misgivings. “Intense Guy,” however, saw it differently. What a difference a changed viewpoint can make. I got fooled by the wrapper. Instead of looking at the little girl on the packaging, he took the approach of maiden name/married name of the woman she eventually became.

It took a little detour through the genealogy of this Sullivan line, half-siblings and all, to entirely piece the story together, though. As a brief review: yesterday uncovered the Sullivan sites from others’ online work, including the fact that Edna Tully McCaughey’s grandmother, Mary Ann Sullivan, had a half-sister named Maria.

Maria married Francis Luther Lester sometime around 1890, and although the 1900 US Census reports that she was the mother of three living children, the only one I’ve found so far—and thankfully, I now can say I’ve found her—is Vivian May Lester, born May 9, 1892 in Chicago.

As expected, Vivian did eventually marry a Bromley—John F. Bromley, whom she wed May 15, 1920, at her home on 3919 Lowell Avenue in Chicago—and by the time of the 1930 US Census, had six-year-old daughter Margaret and four-year-old son John. Apparently, Vivian was a lifelong resident of the Chicago area, for the Social Security Death Index finishes the tale with the record of her passing in May, 1978, with a last record of address showing her hometown.

Somehow, I can’t help but wonder how many people who knew Vivian in that year of 1978—who saw the packaging encasing the Mrs. Bromley they knew at that stage of her life—could see her in their mind’s eye the way that A. Morse, the photographer near her Irving Park childhood home, caught her as a young child.
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