Isn’t this an interesting photograph!
My husband inherited a box full of pictures that included some from the Hartwell family, as well as this one. This couple is so intriguing and we have no idea who they are…. well I admit to having a suspicion that they are William and Mary Edgeworth, parents of Mary Jane Edgeworth who married George Hartwell. If my hunch is correct they would be Mr. Ed’s Great-Great-Grandparents.
Over the years I’ve stared at the photo many times and tried to imagine how this couple lived and why this particular picture was important enough to save more than 100 years. Since Mr. Ed and I have lately been studying his Hartwell line the picture came onto the radar screen again, and even with a scarcity of information at our fingertips we were able to piece together quite a bit of their story and make a tentative ID of this couple.
Back to the picture: The back is stamped “Charley Mathers, Central Lake Mich.” and the oval has been cut out and glued to the grey cardboard backing. We attempted to locate descendants of the photographer but found the family had all moved away from Central Lake years ago. But there are a few things that might be clues in addition to the photographer’s name and location as stamped on the back.
I needed help, so arranged for a phone consultation with The Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor, http://www.maureentaylor.com/ to see if there were more clues to be had. Yes! Maureen was a wonderful help both noticing features to the photo I’d missed, and putting the whole thing into context. If you’re having trouble with photo identification be sure to contact Maureen… you’ll be glad you did! Here’s what came out of our conversation:
First of all Maureen and I agreed that even if we knew nothing of the subjects, this is a very special picture of an intriguing couple!
I’d mentioned suspecting these people were the Edgeworths so her first question to me was whether they were Americans by birth or immigrants. When I told her they emmigrated from Canada but were born in Ireland, there was a “BINGO” moment. The reason? The lady’s bonnet is a very conservative British Isles style, a style not appearing in photos of American born women. England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, yes, but not America.
This already points to Edgeworths as the subjects since the other Great-Great-Grandparents were native born.
Other observations from Maureen:
The clothing style indicates that the picture was taken close to 1900. The large ribbon bow on the man’s lapel is indicative of some type of event being celebrated, possibly a 50th wedding anniversary. Aha! The 1900 U.S. Census record for Echo Township, Antrim County Michigan states that William and Mary were at that time married 50 years.
I had at one time wondered if this picture had to do with mourning as the bonnet looks a little like some “mourning caps” in pictures on the Internet. However, the bow pretty much negates that idea, especially with the corroborating evidence of the 50th anniversary.
A particularly interesting observation by Maureen was that this couple appear to dislike each other intensely. See how they’re looking away from one another and how stern is their countenance? They are not a happy couple!
I’ll be following up with more data about the Edgeworth family, but couldn’t wait to post this great photo and the likely identification of the subjects.
April 30, 2011
Susan J. Edminster, Granite Falls Washington, All Rights Reserved.
Picture is the sole property of Susan J. Edminster