#52Ancestors: Favorite Photo

I can’t choose a favorite photo, so I’m going to share two of my favorite photos of people I don’t really know who they are.

Dapper Man

This first one is from my Grandma Stevens’ collection. Well, technically Mary Elizabeth “Mollie” Pittman Stevens is my great-grandmother, but my mom always called her Grandma Stevens, so that’s how I think of her. She had quite a few photos that were not labeled or were labeled vaguely. At least vague (Uncle Willie or Pierce Girls) gave me some idea as I started trying to match the photos to the family tree.

The reason those photos have any notes at all is because of my mom. At some point, she sat down with her grandmother and asked who was in the photos, and she wrote information on the back. Unfortunately, Grandma couldn’t remember who everybody was.

This man looks so dapper with his cravat and his crisp-looking stiff-crowned hat. You can even see the shine on his shoes!

Looking a little closer, you can see that he’s standing on grass, and there’s a crudely painted backdrop behind him. What appears to be a chair on the right side simply has a blanket thrown over it. I believe this photo was taken by a traveling photographer, possibly at a festival or fair. I wonder if the clothes are his, or if he borrowed an outfit for the photo. He could be a teenager or young adult. Based on the style of the collar and tie, I believe it’s late Victorian or Edwardian.

Grandma Stevens was born in Baldwin County, Alabama, in 1882. Her brothers and sisters were born between 1885 and 1901. My mom didn’t recognize Dapper Man, so it’s probably not one of Grandma’s brothers, unless it’s Isaac. She never talked about Isaac; he died in 1911, aged 15. If she didn’t want to talk about him, she might have said she didn’t know who it was. If it is Isaac, the photo would have to have been taken shortly before he died. Alternatively, it could be one of her cousins or perhaps it was a beau (or would be beau) who gave her his picture.

This next photo is from my husband’s side of the family. His mother has written on the back “Mom’s grandfather,” so I know this is either Herr Schiesl or Herr Brummer. The photograph was taken at a studio in München (Munich) Germany.

I love this photo because he’s holding a picture – perhaps his wife? He has what appears to be a pin on his left shoulder, but I can’t see it clearly. Is it decorative, or does it indicate his membership in a society or trade organization?

Tim’s grandmother, Helen Schiesl was born in München in 1892. I imagine her parents were born in the 1860s, which would put this gentleman born, perhaps, in the 1830s or 1840s. I think he’s probably in his late 40s to early 50s, judging by his grey beard.

I know Helen’s parents are named Norbert Schiesl and Theresa Brummer, but that’s all I know about them. I haven’t found any information on their birthdates, where they were born, or their parents’ names.

I live in hope that I will someday find someone else – someone with a detailed family tree or maybe a DNA match – who will have copies of these same photos, but with a name on the back.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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1 Response to #52Ancestors: Favorite Photo

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    They are both intriguing. I think you are right about the first being taken at a fair and perhaps in clothes from the photographer’s wardrobe. It does happen that other people have copies of photos and better IDs, so you may get lucky someday!

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