Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Few More Thoughts

Alta Barnes must have been in a chatty mood when she wrote the explanation that accompanied her photographthe one I found abandoned in an antique shop in Jackson, California. Besides naming the three sisters from Kansasstanding with Alta, there were Mollie and Nellieand explaining her stomach woes, Alta, or perhaps someone else in the family, had more to say.

What I find to be an unusual remark to include in the label for a family picture was the addition someoneI'm not sure this is the same handwriting as that of the blue inked "stomach ache" comment—had scrawled diagonally across the card:
Aunt Nellie had just got over pneumonia fever. Her hair had fallen out and was growing back.

Sure enough, taking a closer look at the girl Alta had labeled as Nellie, you can see her hair was shortuncharacteristically so for that time period. I'm not sure what, exactly, "pneumonia fever" might have been, nor can I think of any fever so serious as to cause one's hair to fall out. Then again, I'm not a medical expert. Perhaps someone else will knowalthough, for reasons I explained yesterday, I doubt the malady had anything to do with the flu epidemic that occurred around 1918.

What would have helped even more, in puzzling over this added note, would be to know just who wrote that note. The handwriting wasn't quite the same as the blue inked lines which provided the girls' names. It could have been penned by another relative, or it could have just been a case of the same person's handwriting, many years later.

Whoever it was, either the person writing the note was a niece or nephew of Nellie, or the one being addressed was the niece or nephew. At any rate, we can probably rule out any children of Nellie from the list of possibilities, which is good for one main reason: I can't find any details about Nellie following her entry in the 1920 census.


  1. Hope you find relatives. I am taking a break, my husband is worse and now I am 90 miles from home. This hospital should be better as it has his pulmonary specialist but I have not seen the better care yet. For now he is holding his own but we had another bout of respiratory distress. It was a long drive here, I brought him here. Daughter Jen picked up chance so he is visiting miney and little Elvis.

    1. I know this has to be serious for your husband to be back in the hospital so soon, Far Side. I know the distance from home is difficult, but if it provides the kind of care he needs, it is worth it. You two will certainly be on my mind and in my prayers until he truly is on the mend and able to go home--with no relapses!

  2. My mother had an aunt who had scarlet fever (as the story goes) and lost her hair. I shared a few photos at Wordless Wednesday: Bald Mary.

    1. That was interesting to see the photos! Thanks for mentioning that and including the link. Now that you mention scarlet fever, it prompted my husband to Google what fevers might cause the loss of hair, and among a few others, bacterial pneumonia did come up in the list as a possible cause of losing hair. We learn so much from going back and picking up the day to day details on our ancestors' lives. These are certainly not everyday occurrences in our own experience, now.


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