The cover peels back like a piece of warm taffy. It is well-used, well-loved, and continues to serve its purpose. I’m guessing my great grandma Orah put it together.
And, it is a goldmine. It is filled with faces, but very few dates or places are labelled. My father went through it before he died, added labels, best he could recall. Still, more questions remain. As the last Geier in our line, when dad died, so did the knowledge. The guesswork begins.
Most of the pages inside look like this:
Dad labelled those he knew, but what of the hundreds of loose photos? Bertha Butterfield (below center, and youngest of the four daughters) was a dead ringer for her mother, Orah (below, second from right). Regarding Bertha, it is hard to mess up that one.
I have few clues about the two pictures below. They were taken in Tacoma, WA, and I am certain the second little girl is Bertha. I am also assuming they were taken the same day, the same year (same photographer, same frame and format).
My question is: who is this first little girl? Is this Hazel or Lillian Butterfield? Bear with me, there were four daughters born in the following order: Lillian, Lalla, Hazel, and Bertha.
Here’s how I think I have figured out this one, tiny mystery. Hazel was born in 1902, in Minneapolis. Sometime thereafter, the family moved to Tacoma, WA, close to 1904 or 1905. Bertha was born in 1908, in Tacoma, and census records verify the family lived in Tacoma by 1910.
Here’s the catch. Look at this photo a bit closer:
Hazel, center, appears to be about three here. If that is true, grandma Lalla would be about seven, and Lillian would be 11. So far, so good. Looking again at the photo of Bertha, I would say she was about four or five.
If Bertha was four or five, and the year was 1911 or 1912, Lillian would have been gravely ill or close to passing away. She died in August of 1912 of tuberculosis at age 17. This is the last known photo of Lillian Butterfield.
My conclusion: the girl in the photo has to be Hazel. If the year was 1912 and Bertha was four, Hazel would have been eight. This girl looks to be about eight or nine.
Sometimes it’s hours and hours of perusing with no conclusions drawn. A particular challenge we face is that of the four girls, only my grandma had children. She only had one (my father). There is no one else to ask. My sister and I are the only remaining descendants.
Yet, I try to remain thankful for the photos themselves, try to gear up for this enormous challenge. The faces become more familiar the more I look. Heck, I was able to identify one woman by her teeth (those years in dentistry may yet pay off).
I’d love to know what you think. How do you identify people in your old photos?
Now, who’s got some good wine?