Saturday, July 24, 2021

Three Young Siblings


Not all the photographs we rescue from antique shops are hundred year old gems. Some abandoned family collections include more recent treasures.

Such was the case when a thoughtful fellow researcher alerted me to the cache of family photos at a local antique shop belonging to my former mother-in-law. When I went to the store to rescue what I could find of Marilyn Sowle Bean's collection, there were many pictures of family members whom I remembered including in the tree I built for her family.

There were, however, many others I didn't recognize. Some of them emerged from the "who is this?" pile and staked their claim in the "known family" pile as I sorted through each picture in tandem with building out the collateral lines in Marilyn's family tree. Considering Marilyn was born in 1928, most all of her relatives are now long gone. Matching names and faces would have been a challenge, had it not been for Marilyn's persistent habit of labeling everything.

Remembering that Marilyn, an only child of a woman who was oldest of nine children of Oliver and Ragna Brague, grew up in southern California without meeting many of her mother's siblings back in Wisconsin—let alone her cousins—I was surprised to see how many photos she had of her mother's nieces and nephews. While the miles may have prevented the families from getting together in person, I suspect a lot of letter writing took place over the years, accompanied with family photographs.

One such photo, likely sent first to Marilyn's mother and eventually passed to Marilyn, was of three young children born to her mother's youngest sibling. That baby brother, Daryll Brague, was born only a few months after Marilyn, herself, putting Marilyn in the unusual position of being older than her own uncle.

Just as Marilyn would have done, her mother was likely the person who affixed the careful label naming the three children, followed by the explanation of whose children they were—Daryll and his wife Harriet—and, most importantly, the date the picture was taken.

I wonder whether Marilyn ever got to meet her young Wisconsin cousins—or even her aunts and uncles who were nearly the same age as she was. The two branches of the family seemed so separated, by the point at which I knew them. I wonder, too, whether any of them still have a copy of this 1962 photograph, and pull it out of its spot in their family albums to compare facial details with the most recent arrivals among their great-grandchildren.



  1. more cousins of my father's. We had family reunions each year (around July 4th) for much of my life in La Crosse WI.

    1. Kim, thanks so much for getting in touch. If you email me at afamilytapestry gmail com, I'd be happy to send you the original photos so you can share them with your family.


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