Welcome!

I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Super Sleuth Saturday: Who Are the Hannas and Hugh McLean, Winnipeg, MB?


Here’s a mystery for you.  The photograph was taken at the J. F. Mitchell Studio in Winnipeg.  John Fletcher Mitchell (1862-1943) was one of the most well-known photographers in Winnipeg.  He opened his studio on Rupert Avenue around 1884.  He entered city politics as an alderman, and then became acting mayor in 1900.  In 1906, Mr. Fletcher became an MLA representing Winnipeg North.  He died in 1943 and is buried in St. James Anglican Cemetery.
Unfortunately, the subjects of this photo aren't as easy to trace. This photograph is inscribed on the reverse:  "From Maggie Hanna, Hugh McLean, and Tom Hanna to Dottie.  With best love."
Later, someone has written "Mrs. Ritchie" a bit lower on the reverse. There is also a negative number on the photo#13425.
Can you date and find additional information on this trio?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Puzzle Pieces : The Remarkable Ma Bale, Jeanette Bale and Her Lovely Sisters, ca. 1916 [?]


I wasn't sure that this Real Postcard Photograph was identifiable when I found it at a Victoria BC Antique Shop last month. I knew it would be a challenge. The photographer's name is provided on the front:  Brown, Webster City, Iowa.

On the reverse we have an interesting description. Not much for dates and places, but an interesting profile of the family nonetheless:

"Mother's best 
girlfriend
Jeannette Bale (Meade) 
+
her sisters
+ Ma Bale - 
who seems to have
been a remarkable 
woman. She said -
"never let lack of
the right clothes
keep you from going
where you want to go."
Mr. Bale was called "Gum Daddy"
because (a pharmacist) he gave gum 
to the kids."

I liked Ma Bale immediately from her image and even more so after I read her fashion philosophy.


I never assume the photographer's location to be the exact location of the subject's residence, even though there's always a chance the photo was taken in the subject's hometown. Sometimes, though, photographs are taken on holidays, while visiting other family members or while in a neighbouring town. In this case, I found a three-year old Jeanette M. Bale living in Webster City with her parents William S. and Flora G. Bale. Two sisters, close in age to Jeanette are also in the household: five-year-old Louise, and the two-year-old Mary. William's profession is listed as "Salesman: Drugs."

I could not find the family in the 1910 US Federal Census. However, they do appear on the 1911 Canada Census, having moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 19062. William's occupation is listed as "Salesman." The mother in the house is now recorded as "Florence." In the 1916 Manitoba-Alberta-Saskatchewan Census, his occupation is also "Salesman -- Advertising Specialist3." We seem to be getting further and further away from Pharmacist.

But, the family moves back to the US and can be found on the 1920 US Federal Census, living in Galena, IL, in the household of Mary Gratiot, presumably Florence's mother (although the way the census is recorded, she could be William's mother). This time, William's occupation is "Druggist.4" While that's good enough of a match for me, I do want to confirm that Jeanette married a Meade, just to be sure I'm not forcing the puzzle pieces.

Turns out that Jeanette didn't marry someone with the surname Meade, but rather, someone with the given name Meade. I'm sure that must count. Jeanette Bale and Meade M. Morris were married in Galena, Illinois in 19215. Can you guess which sister is which? When do you suppose the image was taken?



1 "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M9KP-Z6G : accessed 2 May 2018), Jeannette M Bale in household of Wiliam S Bale, Webster city Ward 2, Hamilton, Iowa, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 100, sheet 5B, family 123, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,435.
2 "Recensement du Canada de 1911," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV95-F9GD : 16 March 2018), Jeanette Bale in entry for William Bale, 1911; citing Census, Winnipeg Sub-Districts 1-29, Manitoba, Canada, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 2,417,671.
3 1916 census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Winnipeg, Manitoba, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 5, p.47 (penned), dwelling 335, family 557, William G. Bale family, digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed May 1, 2018), citing microfilm LAC microfilm T-21934.
4 1920 U.S. census, Galena Ward 3, Jo Daviess, Illinois, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 43, page 3-A, dwelling 67, family 75, Mary J. Gratiot household; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 30 Apr 2018); citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 373.
5 "Illinois, County Marriages, 1810-1940," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q292-Z4H3 : 8 November 2017), Meade M. Morris and Jeannette M. Bale, 03 Sep 1921; citing , Jo Daviess, Illinois, United States, county offices, Illinois; FHL microfilm 1,602,649.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Girl in the Ambrotype -- 1850s




This past weekend I attended a genealogy conference where I became involved in a conversation surrounding Daguerrotype and Ambrotype photography. The question came up: how do you tell the difference between the two?

The ambrotype you see above is probably the oldest photograph in my collection.  The ambrotype was first used in 1851 and was patented by James Ambrose Cutting in 1854. Eventually, it became the photograph of choice, overtaking the earlier Daguerrotype in popularity mostly because it was less expensive. The Ambrotype is actually a negative image on glass made positive with a black backing. Most often it is cased, as you see above. Ambrotype use died out around 1880, though never as popular as it was in the mid-1850s, due to the invention of tintypes and "cartes de visite."

You can differentiate an ambrotype from a daguerreotype by its reflectiveness. The ambrotype will not have a mirror-like image when you look at it from different angles. If you take it out of the case and hold it up to the light, you will be able to see through the ambrotype. I know this particular artifact is an ambrotype because the image is on glass, and not on polished silver as a daguerreotype would be. Ambrotypes were made from 1851-1880, but this one probably dates somewhere in the mid to late 1850s.

Assuming it is original, I am guessing that the case is probably an early one. In the back half of the 1850s the mat and brass preserver became highly ornate. As you can see, ours is quite plain. It probably dates to 1855 or earlier. The young girl's outfit could provide clues as well. The wide, shallow shoulders of her dress point to the 1850s. I'm not a costume expert but I do wish I could see what type of legging were worn, as that, too, could help with dating the image. This is probably the only likeness in existence of this particular sitting. Ambrotypes, for the most part, were one-offs. 

I found this ambro at an antique show and sale in Red Deer, Alberta about 25 years ago. The problem with ambrotypes is that they are so often unidentified. This one is no exception. It is highly unlikely that I will ever learn the background story of this young girl.