Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On the Bride's Side

If the hundred year old wedding photograph I found in a northern California antique shop wasn't of a groom named Adolph Brockmaneven though that's who the label said he wasthen who was he? We're pretty sure, now that we've compared the pictures side by side, that the mystery groom wasn't Adolph's brother-in-law, either. But just in case this picture still ought to be kept in the same family, is there anything we can discover about the bride?

First, let's take a look at the bride from the photo I found in California, and compare her with the one in the photograph passed down through the Brockman family of Nebraska to our contact, Jeff in Oregon.

Just as we saw when comparing the grooms from each of the two wedding photos, these two people do not look alike. Of course, there's the dead giveaway of the bridal veils and gowns, but even the difference of the two hairstyles may provide guidance about differing time frames.

I wondered, just as we had for the comparison of the potential grooms, whether one of the two families might have contained an alternate family member for the bride. After all, we already know that Adolph Brockman's sister Mathilda married Vernie Nieman's brother Frank. Could there have been another such liaison?

I noticed, in the wedding photo provided by Brockman descendant Jeff, that there was another sibling in the wedding party. This young woman was partially unidentified, as she seemed to be a Nieman, but her first name was not listed. Could one of the Nieman sisters be the true bride from the photograph I found in California? Take a look and decide for yourself.

While the tilt of the head and the apparent age difference make it hard to adequately judge, the eyes and eyebrows do seem vaguely similar. But not totally convincing. I tried scouting out other photos to use for comparison on Nieman, Neiman, or Neimann family trees online without any success.

Of course, I happened to also notice that Vernie Nieman and her siblings also had an older sisterRosawho was already married and out of the home by the time of the 1910 census we had been looking at. (Interestingly, it turned out that while this Rosa and her husband remained in Nebraska, their oldest son ended up, during the war, working as a mechanic downtown in the same city where I now live in Californiaand was buried, in 1996, in a country cemetery in my county, though I doubt that had any bearing on how my photo ended up so far from the family's home in Nebraska.)

Could it be possible that the photo was actually of Vernie's older sister and her husband?

Could it be any of the other siblings on either the Brockman side or the Nieman side?

Or could it just be a mislabeled photograph tucked away in the collection of someone who is no longer with us to explain such an incorrect guess?

While it would be disappointing to just leave it at that, there might still be a way to figure this outbut it will take much more time. Remembering that, according to Jeff's hunch, the photo I found in California might have ended up there in the home of another Brockman descendant, I may have some other pictures on hand from that same Sonora antique shop that could help us determine that true identity of our mystery couple.

As it turns out, in researching the family of that Brockman descendant in Sonora, California, the other side of that generation's family included some surnames that are listed on the back of several of the pictures I rescued from that northern California antique shop. It will take some patience, as we go through the stack of photos I found, but perhaps...just perhaps...a clue will surface.

In the meantime, Adolph and Vernieor whoever they turn out to bewill be headed to Brockman researcher Jeff in Oregon. If we can't figure out their true identity here, perhaps the Brockman family can some day weigh in with their own verdict.

Above: Side by side comparisons of the brides and with the one bridesmaid arranged, courtesy of Chris Stevens, from the misidentified photograph found in Sonora, California (on the left) and two of the women in the photograph of the actual Brockman wedding party taken in Nebraska, provided by Brockman family member Jeff in Oregon; used by permission.


  1. Replies
    1. With a complete name--and the city, to boot!--one would have thought this would be a slam-dunk. But there is no guarantee that labels on photographs are always correct.

      With patience, we may find an answer--but it will take the long round-about way of examining other family members in the collection. We may...or may not...eventually find a match to give us that answer.

  2. Replies
    1. So far...we are stumped! Even the other photos in the family's collection aren't helping. This may be a case of an identity from an entirely different branch of the family.


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