Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Family Photograph — Plus Grandkids?

It is not unusual to encounter large families when researching the typical photographs of one hundred years ago. So, for researching one photograph I found in a northern California antique shop, I figured I was looking at mom, dad, and all the kids. There were, in all, eight people in this particular photograph, taken back in Bourbon, Indiana.

The label on the reversethankfully, it was a picture to which someone had thought to add namesseemed somewhat confusing. If my guess is right, it looked like someone first wrote, "Elmira's family," and then, as an afterthought, added what looked like the words, "and Maude Wymse."

Although the handwriting was not the same as on the other photographs I had found during that antiquing trip to Sonora, California, I thought there was a good chance that this picture might still be related to the families tied to the other photographs. I had already learned, from researching the Purkey family for the other photos, that Erastus Purkey and his sister Pleasantwhom we discussed last weekhappened to have an older sister named Olive Elmira Purkey.

Elmiraas she was labeled in several census recordsmarried a man named George Wymer in Marshall County, Indiana. Records indicate their marriage occurred on February 21, 1878. By the time of the 1880 census, appearing in a household in Bourbon, Indiana, were George and Elmira Wymer, along with their one year old daughter, Maude.

By the time of the photograph I had foundtaken in that same Bourbon, Indianathe family had presumably expanded to include (at least) the eight people showing in the picture. As late as the 1910 census, however, the Wymer family never showed that they had any more than three childrentheir daughter Maude plus two sons, Charlie and Frank. What was up with that? Did I have the wrong people?

Of course, by the time of the 1900 census, Maude was no longer listed in her parents' family. By then, she, herself, had been married to Jesse Reed in Marshall County in 1897. The Reed household, by then located in Chicago at the time of the 1900 census, included both Jesse and Maude and their two daughters—Elmira and George's first two grandchildrenDonna and Verda.

Could the photo I found include not only George and Elmira Wymer and their two sons, but also their daughter Maude and her husband and two little girls? That would provide the right count. And, since Verda looks like she was still a babe in arms, it would place the time frame for the picture after 1900, the year Verda was born.

Squeezing in the other end of the possible time frame for this picture were three dates. One was the arrival of Jesse and Maude's third baby in 1903. The other occurrence was the death of Jesse, sometime after the birth of their son in 1905 and Maude's subsequent remarriage in 1908. And certainly, the portrait would have had to be taken before the patriarch, George Wymer himself, passed away in 1912.

My guess is that the family got together some time around 1901, back home in Indiana, to capture that photograph of the grandchildren for Elmira and George to have as a keepsake, since those grandchildren would be growing up so far from home. But then, that's if my hunch that this picture includes the Wymers' three children plus their first two grandchildren proves to be correct.


  1. Seems like very sound reasoning to me!

  2. A multi generational photo is such a treasure! This would be so wonderful for a descendant.

    1. Yes, I'm thinking that, too, Miss Merry...just need to find the right descendant. Sometimes that is not as easy as it sounds!

  3. Jacqi, this is my family! Maud was my maternal great-grandmother. Thanks so much for preserving and researching these photos. If you're able to, please contact me, Melanie McNeil, at catbirdquilts@gmail.com

    Thanks again! Now I'm off to read the rest of your Wymer-related posts! Bless you!

  4. Yes, my great grandmother, too. Melanie is my sister. I have a photo of Maude with her older girls, their full brother, and two younger children.

  5. I'm sorry, my photo shows Lloyd, Theo, Verda, Elsie (Harris), Donna, and Frank (Harris). No mother, just six children.

  6. Elsie was our grandmother. Her middle name was Olive.


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