Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Setting the Wedding Date

Could the photo I found of a young couple in Council Bluffs, Iowa, possibly be their wedding photo? I don't suppose it was the style, back beyond one hundred years ago, to take engagement pictures. On the other hand, this portrait doesn't include the garb we nowadays expect as wedding attire. Perhaps this couple was simply possessed of a modest approach in how they presented themselves, even for festive events.

We know, for one thing, that their name—at least after marriage—was Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts. Not much help on the missus, there. So I went to a few online research resources to help myself. After finding not a few entries for the name Albert Roberts in the vicinity of Council Bluffs, I realized census records might not provide the most helpful clues. A lot can happen over the span of a decade. Not to mention, the only thing we have tying this couple's name to this city is a photography studio. Not the most compelling of reasons to stay in town.

That's when I decided to look for clues in the Council Bluffs newspaper. Of course, while we can try to do such a search cost-free through sites like Chronicling America or the Google News archive, I can also check the websites that provide subscription-based resources. After all, I do have a subscription.

It just so happens that GenealogyBank carries copies of the Council Bluffs newspaper The Daily Nonpariel for the span of time most likely to coincide with the years our Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts might have been in town. Today, and for subsequent posts, I'll be sharing what I've found through that newspaper (and its successor publications) related to Albert Roberts, though the links provided will likely only be accessible for those with a current subscription to that website.

As it turns out, there were quite a few mentions of that name in the Council Bluffs newspaper—over thirty entries, in fact—allowing me to capture enough information to build at least a rough sketch of someone's family tree. Whether that family tree belongs to our Albert Roberts is yet to be seen. But we'll give it a go with what we can find. Warning: this might not be easy.

For instance, here are two small entries in The Daily Nonpariel for January, 1900. The first one, published on January 7, states simply,
Born, to Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts, January 4, a little daughter.

While that might have placed our couple within a likely time frame, the very next entry I found with that same name may actually knock the first mention out of the running. From the January 11 edition:
The county clerk has granted the privilege to wed to the following young people: Albert Roberts and Hattie Eshelman....

Our only consolation, having just been tipped off about the apparent indicator of double possibilities, is that the first one was for a couple living in Riverton, part of Fremont County, while the second report came from Atlantic, the county seat of Cass County, Iowa. Both locations, however, were considered close enough to Council Bluffs to be reported in that city's newspaper. Thus, not only will we try to sketch a rudimentary family tree from the thirty newspaper entries I've already located, but we'll have to discern which report belongs to which family, as there obviously was more than one Albert Roberts in the area.

In the meantime, the most helpful next step would be to date this photograph, and then extrapolate key dates to watch for, guessing how old the couple might have been in the photo and when each of these two might have been born.

Above: Undated photograph of "Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts" from the Sherradan photography studio in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Photograph currently in possession of author until claimed by a direct descendant of the Albert Roberts family.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, she is. I imagine those exquisite curls took a bit of time and attention, too.

  2. Lovely Cabinet Card, her hair is marvelous! Most likely from the 1880's. She looks to have a bustle (1881-1886) and her skirt has pleated edges. I will guess that the card is green on the front and another color on the back 1880-1890.:)

    1. Thank you for weighing in on this, Far Side! Those dates will prove to be very helpful, I'm sure. Though the card is the same color on front and back (the dark green making it extremely hard to decipher the couple's name), the dates are guiding me to an earlier decade than I was looking at earlier. I have a long way to go before I figure this out, but this is a start!

    2. Yes I saw in a previous post that it was green on the back

  3. Find A grave Memorial ID 126942222
    might be a lead.

    1. Yes, that memorial relates to one of the two families I found in the Council Bluffs newspapers. Thanks for flagging that one, Iggy!

  4. Jacqi, I think I have the information to solve your mystery! My wife has been sifting some family photos while we prepare for a funeral service. She came to me with a picture of her great-great-grandparents, Albert and Alice Roberts. Also in the picture are three children: Lillian, Mayme (Mamie), and Ola (Ruby Viola). While the names match up with some of your research the kicker is the parents. While they are obviously older, they almost have to be the couple in your picture above. There are strong physical resemblances and hair styles, clothes, the picture setting, etc. all match up. I will try to send you a scan of the picture, and you can use it in your blog if you wish.

  5. Having difficulty finding a way to send you the scan, either here or via ancestry, where you first contacted me.

  6. I added the photograph to my ancestry.com tree (where you found my link to the Riverton Albert Roberts).


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