Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Challenge for A Photo Detective

Who Are the People in the Photo?
Jones & Dean Family Photo (circa 1890 Weatherford, Texas)The JJ Ranch on the Purgatory River by Frances Bollacker Keck

The above photo was provided by my 2nd cousin, once removed, Ed Dean to Frances Bollacker Keck who was writing The JJ Ranch on the Purgatory River.  I copied the photo from the book.  Whereas, the photo was probably taken in the 1890s, Ed wasn't born until 1920.  He provided the caption at the bottom of the photo. Unfortunately, there are 22 names and 26 persons in the photo.  Spear Christopher Dean and Sarah Marshall (Jones) Dean are my maternal great-great grandparents, and I do know they are correctly identified in the photo.  When it says Cousin Mary and Aunt Josephene, that reflects the relationship of the individual to Ed.  I know who about 20 of the 22 people are, in that they are in my genealogy data base; but I don't know all of them by sight.  My challenge is to line up all of the people with their proper names.  I believe (but need to confirm) that when he says the "First row" he is referring to the back row, whereas, we would normally think of that as the front row.  I also think he didn't give the names of the three small children in the front row at the far right.  That still doesn't make all the names match up by gender; but that will be my challenge to see where he got them reversed.  

I think I will start by trying to establish the year the photo was taken by guessing the ages of some of the younger children that I think I can definitely identify.  Based on that date, I will write the ages of all the other people listed in the photo caption.  If I have a birth date of 1862 for Fannie Franklin and I assume the photo was taken in 1892; then she would be 30 years of age.  I believe Fannie is the middle of three ladies standing to the right of the porch post and 30 looks about right for her age.  Then, based on age, I will try and match up names with photos.   I can also do side by side comparisons.  If I have two children side by side who look like they are about 5 and 13; but the ages based on my genealogy data doesn't agree--they might not be who I think they are.  

I think it will be a fun exercise.  If any of you have any other suggestions, I can use all the help I can get.  Hopefully, in a couple weeks, I will show the photo again and will have the 22 names in the caption correlated with the proper person.  I will also show their ages and let you know how I determined what year the photo was taken.  

Unfortunately, we will never know for sure if I am correct; but at least I can say I tried.  I can then send the photo and caption on to other relatives of the same family lines and get their input.  Who knows--if I am lucky maybe someone will have photos of some of the people listed!  That would certainly help. 

I would like to get the original of the photo, so as to be able to do blow ups of some of the individuals.  Ed Dean gave the photo to his son Allen, who lives in the town where I was raised, Las Animas, Colorado.  I have asked Allen to make me a good copy and my brother, Dean, who also lives in Las Animas has spoken with Allen; but he has no interest and "it would be too much effort to try and find the photo".  Very frustrating; but I am sure you have all run into similar disinterest on the part of relatives.