Monday, November 5, 2018

A Photo From Fertile, Minnesota

Thanks to the help from readers Per and Martin, the seemingly inscrutable inscription on the back of a hundred year old photograph has been translated. As you will see, the message not only makes a lot of sense, but contains enough clues to help us target a specific familyand, hopefully, locate at least one direct descendant who would be interested in receiving the photograph.

But first, the message itself. Apparently written in Norwegian, a transcription of the originalprovided through the collaborative efforts of Per and Martinis here below, in case you, too, can understand the original:
En hilsen ifra den döde og av
Mrs. Rønnøg O. Rosby og
Maria, Fertile, Minn

dette Portraet er taget efter ett gamelt. Til Tant J. T. Andersen.
Fader och moder har ingen feil i [øyne?], men
det er en feil i Printingen.

The consensus regarding the translation, thanks to our two interpreters, is as follows:
A greeting from the dead one, and from
Mrs. Rønnøg O. Rosby and
Maria, Fertile, Minn.

This portrait is based on an
old one. To Aunt J. T. Andersen.
Father and Mother has nothing wrong with their eyes, but
there is an error with the printing.

So, just what might Maria have been referring to when she informed her aunt that her parents had "nothing wrong with their eyes"? Take a look at the photograph and see for yourself what she might have meant.

Photograph, above, possibly of Ole, Rønnøg, and Maria Rosby of Fertile, Minnesota, addressed to Mrs. Jacob Torger Anderson of Iowa; photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant of the family.


  1. Jacqi, I have learned so much by reading your blog daily for the last year. I first came across it when I googled “Tilson.” Being an absolute novice at this at the time, you introduced me to the possibility that my roots could go back to the Mayflower. I was dumbfounded. I am intrigued by the stories you have been writing about this current batch of photos. I’m fairly surprised that these people all sat for formal portraits at the time. Do you think this was typical of people of their means? Also, I looked at George Wymer’s address in South Bend on the 1910 census and then found his house on Google maps. I wonder if that was his house? As I care for my mother who is 95, I have enjoyed many hours exploring your blog. On another day, I’ll ask you some questions about the Tilsons, if you don’t mind.

    1. Phyllis, you have absolutely made my day! Thanks so much for your kind comment.

      You ask an insightful question concerning just what the "typical" person of that era might have thought about sitting for their portrait. I have no answer for that, myself, but perhaps someone else here can weigh in on that topic. I'd be interested to know, as well!

      Your idea about finding George Wymer's house on Google maps was also inspiring. We have so many wonderful tools at our disposal now to help with researching our ancestors.

      Yes, by all means, please do keep in touch, especially as you pursue your Tilson line. You are always welcome to email me directly at afamilytapestry gmail com. I'd love to compare notes with you, and am always keen on meeting new cousins!

  2. Thank you for posting -I have just emailed you in response to your email from Ancestry. Mrs. JT Anderson is my 3rd great-grandmother - mother of my gr-great grandfather Anton Anderson who was killed in Manila, Phillipines in 1904. Ole Rosby (photo above) died in 1902, Ronnoug in 1906 and daughter Inger Maria died in 1922. Thank you for finding and posting these! It means so much to have more of our family history

    1. Susan, I am so glad to not only have found that photo of your ancestor's relatives, but also to have discovered enough of what was written on the reverse of the photo to connect it with your family. I've received your email and sent a response. So glad to know the Rosby photo will be making its way back to you soon!

  3. Replies
    1. Yes! And though I have no idea how to date it, this certainly is one of the oldest photographs I've found so far.


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