iPhoneography: Mission Concepcíon

12 02 2019

On the San Antonio Mission Trail this sunny day (the first in more than a week!) First stop: Mission Concepcíon (this was shot inside the church). Dedicated in 1755, the mission appears very much as it did over two centuries ago. It is the oldest unrestored stone church in America. (iPhone 8Plus, Snapseed 2 app border)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Re-post: The (not so) Orphaned Images Project: Kindergarten graduation day

27 01 2014

From kindergarten through fourth grade I lived in San Antonio on 155 Farrell Drive in a little white ranch style house. My dad closed in our tiny carport to make a den (and did the same thing in the next house) so we would have more room. Our front porch was long and narrow, flanked by a low brick flower bed full of deep purple Wandering Jew plants.

cindykindergartenDirectly across the street lived “Aunt Opal.” I’m not sure why we called her “Aunt,” because she wasn’t a relative to any of us in the class or on Farrell Drive. She operated a kindergarten out of her home and had 11 kids enrolled when I attended. She, along with my father, were the first two people to encourage me to draw when they saw my creative potential. I remember one of my first drawing assignments was to draw a rose using colored pencils. Aunt Opal showed us how to draw the petals with a series of crescent moon shapes grouped together. I think I still have that drawing somewhere—temporarily misplaced in a safe place completely unknown to even me, of that I’m sure.

Above is my class graduation photo. I’m in the front row, second from the left, with my mouth hanging open. I certainly don’t look like the brightest of her students, but I’d truly like to believe I was. (Girls in front—as it should be!)

Aunt Opal wore June Cleaver-like, flowered dresses in polished cotton, accessorized with a single strand of pearls, big pearl button earrings, and dark cat-eye glasses. She had perfectly coiffed hair, sparkling blue eyes and looked a bit like the TV character Hazel. She always drank Tab after school was let out for the day. I know this because I shared one with her on more than one occasion while waiting for my mother to come home from work to walk me from school across the street to our house. Ah, my first diet cola—let’s blame Aunt Opal for our affinity for them now, shall we?

After driving by that house a few years ago, I blogged about 155 Farrell Drive in “Pressed between the pages of my mind,” here. You can read about how my younger sister and I staged pool parties in our back yard, sold lemonade to neighbor children and how I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was eight years old. That same plant-filled brick flower bed was where one Valentine’s Day, my classmate Darren dropped off a box of chocolate for me, rang the doorbell, then ran away. I’ve been scaring boys away ever since!

I was taken back to that time again recently when I came across the two photos below in a dresser drawer in my parent’s guest room. Now you get to see that Aunt Opal was just as I had described her—perfect coif, polished pearls, sensible pumps and all. Below that photo, I’m on our front porch in front of the flower box, proudly holding my first diploma.

Want to learn more about The Orphaned Images Project? Learn about the origin of the project here. Visit the site at  http://orphanedimages.wordpress.com/

The Orphaned Images Project: Petticoat Junction, anyone?

12 08 2012

Scribbled in pencil on the back of this photo:

Luella Devo and me, Jesse and Adelaide Devoe on the silo

With just a few seconds of research, beginning with the fact that two of the women in this photo are likely sisters—Adelaide and Luella—I found a grave marker that indicates Adelaide Delphine DeVoe was born October 15, 1890 and died May 3, 1984. Her younger sister, Luella Adella DeVoe, was born two years later on October 24, 1892 and died April 15, 1957. They are buried in the Parfreyville Cemetery, Section 12, Dayton Township, Waupaca County, Wisconsin.

Adelaide was 93 when she passed away at Bethany Home. She lived in Waupaca for 60 years and worked for 30 years in the laundry at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home (WVH). She had two brothers, Claude and Floyd. I can’t find any indication that she or her sister ever married or had a family.

There is very little information on the link for Luella’s gravestone. I did learn that in 1941 she was the “head laundress” of the WVH-King Laundry. Ed Fosgate was the head laundry man and there was a total of 12 employees in the Laundry. They handled 7,567 pounds per week with 3,300 of this being sheets. There were 641 members in the WVH.

I did find their father, Charles DeVoe. He was born in Rennessalier County, NY on June 26, 1855. When he was six, he moved with his parents to Fond Du Lac, WI. In 1890 he married Amanda Chapel. They had seven children (one died in infancy). They moved to Janesville and then to Oshkosh.

From the Waushara County Obituaries: Left to mourn his loss are his wife, four sons, Harley, Lloyd, Claude and Floyd, and two daughters, Adelade and Luella, all of Oshkosh, and two brothers, Henry and Willard of Etna, Washington. He died July 29, 1922, at the age of 67 years, 1 month and 3 days at the home of his niece, Mr. Ora Wing. He was sick only a few hours.

Research is fun even if these aren’t my family members! It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, made easier by someone’s cursive writing on the back of an old photo.

Double-click on the photo to see more detail. Learn more about The Orphaned Images Project on my site dedicated to this project here.

The Orphaned Images Project: Class Picture Day

12 08 2012

I realize that these young students were probably told to remain motionless while their class photo was taken, but there is not one happy face in the bunch, is there? The writing at the bottom of the photo reads “Estella” (with an arrow pointing to the young girl that is seated fifth from the left), below that reads “Gobbelsville, Indiana.” The name “Berlia” is written with an arrow pointed to the child seated second from right. Berlia sounds like a girl’s name, but girls didn’t wear pants back in those days.

I did a search for “Gobbelsville” and there aren’t any results on Google. There is a town by the name of “Gobelsville,” though—an unincorporated town in Clear Creek Township, Huntington County, Indiana.

Double-click on the photo to see more detail. Learn more about The Orphaned Images Project on my site dedicated to this project here.

Senthil Srinivasan: Opening Up

15 11 2011

Senthil Srinivasan is our cover feature for the November/December 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met Senthil online after discovering his website, Outerchat, and asked him if he would be interested in being profiled for the magazine. Three years later, he has written an article for the magazine. He flew from Milwaukee to Northern Virginia in mid-September so I could photograph him for the publication.

Since he was a guest in our home during his stay, I got to play tour guide. This was his first visit to the Washington, D.C. area. Immediately after I picked him up at the airport Friday morning, we did what I call “drive-by sightseeing” in downtown D.C. and he even got to see the smallest house in Old Towne Alexandria (shown at right) and possibly the U.S. The house measures just 7 feet wide and 36 feet long—a mere 350 square feet total! Learn more about this tiny house here.

We spent the rest of the afternoon touring Mount Vernon. The next day, Michael, Senthil and I attended the Walk4Hearing kick-off brunch at Clyde’s in D.C., which just happened to be taking place the weekend he was visiting! He had already met some of the HLAA staff at the Milwaukee Convention in 2010, so there were some familiar faces in the room. After a delicious brunch, we did some more “drive-by sightseeing,” with Senthil jumping out at various sites to get some quick snapshots. Some stops included the U.S. Capitol, the White House, Ford’s Theatre, the house where Lincoln died, and the Washington Monument.

Afterward, Senthil, Michael and I had the opportunity to see the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial for the first time. What a sobering but beautiful tribute to the lives lost that day. I will share some of my photos of the memorial in a future post. On Sunday morning, Senthil and I did the cover session by the Potomac River in Old Towne, Alexandria. I did the interior shots in my studio later that evening. On Monday morning, Michael dropped him off in D.C. so tour a few of the Smithsonian museums and do some solo sightseeing for the day before he headed back to Wisconsin in the late afternoon. It was a whirlwind visit and we accomplished quite a bit!

Senthil Srinivasan: Opening Up

The author (36) shares his personal story. Read about his journey to opening up about his hearing loss and finally realizing he is not alone.

I was born with bilateral, mild-to-moderate hearing loss. With the exception of early childhood, I grew up around hearing people. My first four years of school were in special education classes with students with various degrees of hearing loss. In fourth grade, I was integrated into regular classes with hearing students. It was not easy being the only kid with a hearing loss. I started to shy away from other students to avoid teasing and bullying, of which I had my fair share. When I attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee for my degree in graphic design, I focused mainly on studies. My lack of socialization didn’t bother me much. Once I graduated, I shifted my focus to building a career. Then there came a point when I started longing for friends, and even wanted to date someone. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any success. With not having a lot of friends at work or outside, I was looking for an answer. It got to the point where I was starting to hate myself.

My Hearing Loss Journey
My journey started when my parents and sister were vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells tourist area. They were in the Storybook Gardens, and an angel asked my sister for a wish. She wanted a baby brother. My parents were so touched by her wish that they brought me into this world. I was born three weeks ahead of schedule, fully developed but weighing just four-and-a-half pounds. However, I was also born hard of hearing. At the time, newborn infants were not tested for hearing loss, so nobody knew that I had a hearing loss for several years. (Right: Senthil and his sister Sheila)

I was a happy child and everything seemed normal to my parents for a few years. But, when I didn’t talk even at two years old, they became concerned. Others reassured them that some boys develop speech a little later than usual, and so they shouldn’t worry too much. Even so, my parents took me to the Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee for an evaluation.

After a half-day of evaluation, the doctors concluded that I was hyperactive, and at their suggestion, I was enrolled in a special class for young children with developmental needs. As far as I was concerned, I was just happy to go on the little school bus and get all the attention at school. Little did I know that I wasn’t hearing everything; my residual hearing fooled everybody! I used to say ‘oopa’ with much excitement when the school bus came to our house to pick me up, and my parents couldn’t figure out that what I was trying to say was ‘school bus.’

Fortunately, a breakthrough came when I visited India with my family a year later. My uncle took me to an excellent ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist and had him test me. The ENT just played with me, asked me questions, and mostly observed my responses. After his evaluation, he told my family that he strongly believed I had a hearing loss and recommended that we see an audiologist when we returned to the United States. Sure enough, proper auditory testing revealed that I had a bilateral, mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Right away, I was fitted with hearing aids. My mother told me that my face lit up the first time I wore them. She had never seen that look on my face and was happy to see such a big smile. I felt fortunate to hear many of the sounds a person with normal hearing would hear.

Education Challenges
I was placed in a special program for deaf and hard of hearing children at Lowell Elementary School in Waukesha, Wisconsin. By then, I had lost about four years of hearing and language development, and was playing catch-up with my peers. The teachers at Lowell School were wonderful and I was just happy to finally hear and understand everything.

Every morning I would arrive early at school, put on a box with a transmitter and receiver, and then play with the school-supplied building blocks. The memory is so vivid that I can still see the sun rising as I stacked the blocks as high as possible before watching them come tumbling down. It was a special moment in my life as I began my journey in the hearing loss world. I believe this memory is the perfect metaphor for how hard I’ve been working to stand tall and never give up, even when it seems everything is tumbling down around me.

My years at Lowell Elementary School were the best times of my childhood. Thinking back, I suspect it was because I was with other deaf and hard of hearing students, and there was no one to make fun of me. Outside of school, not too many people knew that I had a hearing loss since my mom kept my hair long on the sides to cover my hearing aids. For many years after that I continued to hide my hearing loss but later I changed my hairstyle to be shorter. Looking at my old pictures, I ask myself, What was I thinking?!

When I reached fourth grade, the special education board decided that I was ready to join regular school with a few sessions of speech therapy. Since our house was closer to a different elementary and middle school, I had to leave all my friends and start over in the new school with hearing students. Making friends became much more challenging, and I kept most of my problems to myself, rarely going to my teachers or parents about them. I think this molded my adult life.

Some of my experiences at middle school, high school, and college included:

• On orientation day with the regular class, a teacher accompanied me in a group of hearing kids. I remember feeling anxious and nearly passing out, but I didn’t tell anyone about the incident, not even my parents.

• When I started middle school, one of my classmates asked me to sit with him during lunch. He was sitting at a cool table with popular kids. However, when I joined the group, the girls at the table gave me that look as if I didn’t belong there. Seeing their faces made me feel like an outsider, and I never sat at that table again.

• I took a band class in middle school because I loved playing drums. My drum teacher was very supportive of me, but other drummers used to tease me a lot during the class. If I messed up, they would giggle among themselves. I remember that a red-headed girl, who was the only girl playing the drums, would always pretend to like me by flirting and making facial expressions. When I moved away, the others would laugh with her. Eventually I dropped out of band just to avoid being teased.

• During high school, I became extremely shy and avoided any attempt at making friends. I was afraid of being teased and hurt even more. I spent most Friday nights with my parents rather than going to parties or other social outings.

• My days at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were fine since I was dealing with more mature students, and I had a lot of support from the University. I didn’t have much time to think of anything except studying hard and getting a good job. I graduated with a high GPA and even got a full-time job before my graduation! As I said earlier, my primary goal in college and in my career was work, not friends and fun—although I had to work much harder than hearing people to compete in the workforce.

As a result of these experiences, I had trouble socializing in my adult life, and ran into several communication barriers when it came to meeting people and making friends. Although I can hear almost everything with my hearing aids, I still struggle to understand what everyone is saying, especially with background noise. There were times when people would talk to me using their low voices and I would nod along, even though I couldn’t catch all the words. And it was frustrating to constantly ask people to repeat themselves.

Seeking and Getting Help Lifting the Communication Barriers
When I attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UMW) in the late 1990s, I was eligible to receive DVR (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) funding. They helped cover the cost for hearing aids, tuition, and services provided at UMW. I found UWM’s services beneficial, especially note takers—students who UWM hired to take notes during lectures for me. Even with my hearing aids, sometimes I struggled to take notes while listening to professors, and note takers helped me keep up with the classes. I also knew some deaf and hard of hearing students who used sign language interpreters. That was more than 10 years ago, and I’m sure even more services are being offered in schools today thanks to advances in technology and expertise. I accomplished a lot more in my life than my parents ever imagined. My mother told me that she doubted I would ever learn to speak or understand people. She even thought I might not get to graduate from college someday. Fortunately, hearing aids, speech therapy, and hard work have gotten me to where I am today. As the school years went on, I got out of the special education classes and became fully mainstreamed into classrooms with hearing students. I graduated from college and secured a full-time job as a web designer.

I was not happy with the way I looked back in high school and college, and I have come to realize that the hearing aids were a major reason why I was and still am so isolated from the outside world. There were also other reasons that played a big role, such as my shyness and not having an outgoing personality. Rather than analyzing the past each and every day, I have decided to open up and share my life experiences and the path that led me to where I am today.

Reaching Out to Others Through Blogs
In 2008, I started an online forum as a way of getting out of my shell and reaching out to others. From that day, my life started to change. My first posting explained my reason for starting the blog: to express my thoughts, feelings, and tell stories about my hearing loss, with hopes of creating an interactive forum to benefit everyone. I learned more about how the Internet-driven world, especially social networks, could be used to connect people with hearing loss. When I created a group in Facebook including a link to my website, it attracted more members to DeafandHOH.com and encouraged them to share their experiences and struggles.

I was so excited, I started two more websites: one for blogs (www.OuterChat.com) and one for a hearing loss forum (www.OuterDialog.com). I wrote more than 100 posts, and it became the journey of my life! It felt good to let out my feelings after all these years. After reading other people’s responses to my postings, I learned that I wasn’t the only one in this world struggling with hearing loss. As the discussions grew in the forum, people started asking for places where they could meet and chat with others. I began Open Chat Night. Some inspiring moments from the chat:

• A 10-year-old girl, accompanied by her mother, needed to vent her feelings for not having friends at school. That really touched my heart and reminded me of how I felt in school. Listening to other people who had gone through similar experiences helped her to feel not so alone, and she realized that she didn’t have to let these setbacks limit her.

• A young man from Iowa who couldn’t afford a computer would make trips to the local library, using their computers to talk with the other Open Chat Night members until closing time,

• A deaf teenage girl from Canada with cerebral palsy comes regularly to our sessions. The chat means the world to her; she tries not to miss a single session and always informs us if she can’t make it.

• One time a person from Egypt came to the chat in spite of the time difference!

I truly had no idea when I started this venture that it would have such a positive impact on so many lives! I have about 300 subscribers and the Facebook group is slowly expanding with more members as well. I have taken steps to actively get involved in the community, such as the Milwaukee Walk4Hearing and the HLAA Chapter meetings in the Milwaukee/Racine area. I am also getting tremendous support from a few people at work, when before I would not have allowed myself to make any friends there. (Above: Sentil with his family at a wedding in New York this past September. Left to right: nephew Nathan, father Nallaswamy, mother Lakshmi, niece Anika, sister Sheila and her husband Mike.)

At some point, most of us have allowed hearing loss to become a roadblock to enjoying life to the fullest. One of the most important roadblocks is communication. Communication is a crucial part of our daily lives and it can affect relationships with family and friends. It can affect your communication skills with co-workers on the job, and even your grades. I am sure many of us with hearing loss have dealt with at least one of these communication roadblocks, each of which leads to endless problems for the present and future. We have to keep finding ways to integrate solutions to these barriers. The use of hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices, captioning, and loop systems help us to become a part of society where we can more easily communicate with others.

I am always saddened and surprised to hear about people who have gone through so many years of dealing with hearing loss without using the technology that would change their entire life instantly. We need to advocate more strongly for the supply of technological information to these people.

The Journey Continues
Using the Internet really helped me to open up, share my experiences, and reach out to others. I am slowly becoming more social and getting out of the house more than ever before. Rather than curling up in a ball and quitting, I will continue to reach out to people. It makes me feel good about myself to contribute and help others. Over the past several years, I’ve learned that I’m not the only person in this world facing these challenges. That’s what I want everyone to realize when they join this community; they’ve become a part of a group where everyone cares about you and will support who you are. Just remember—you’re not alone.

Giving up is not part of my vocabulary. I have learned that you must like yourself for other people to like you, so I will continue to move forward with my goals and stay positive about myself. I know good things and people are all around me. I can’t wait to experience whatever comes next!

Senthil Srinivasan lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and for the past six years has worked as a web designer for PowerSports Network in Sussex, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. You can read his blog at OuterChat.com.

Random shots: Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from 40 stories up

2 11 2011

This past spring, Michael and I celebrated our friend Karen’s birthday in Baltimore, accompanied by our friends Paula and Ken. I photographed this view of the Inner Harbor from the observation floor of Baltimore’s tallest skyscraper—the Legg Mason Building. At 528 feet high, it is the tallest building in Maryland. The building in the foreground houses the National Aquarium of Baltimore, located on Pratt Street. It’s most often referred to as the Baltimore Aquarium. The aquarium has a collection of 16,500 specimens representing 600 species. Coastal Living magazine named it the #1 aquarium in the U.S. in 2006 (it really is an amazing place!) The two boats adjacent to the aquarium are the USS Torsk and Lightship 116 Chesapeake.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The Orphaned Images Project: Ladies who lunch

19 10 2011

Learn more about my ongoing series, The Orphaned Images Project, here and see more orphaned images here.

The Orphaned Images Project: Bathing cuties

19 10 2011

Learn more about my ongoing series, The Orphaned Images Project, here and see more orphaned images here.

The Orphaned Images Project: Gone fishin’

21 09 2011

Written around the edges of this photo:

7:30 A.M. In a few minutes he is off with a “fishing only” on a gasoline launch.

Archivist note: Hmmm….

The Orphaned Images Project: School children

21 09 2011

Written on the back of this photo (I’m assuming the names go right to left in placement in the photo):


The Orphaned Images Project: The Altizer family

11 09 2011

The caption on the back of this photo reads, “The Altizer family, including Shep.” I can assume this branch of the Altizer family was from Virginia (since the photos were sold by a seller in Virginia). I did a quick search in Google for the family name and came up with lots of information, including a comprehensive genealogy website prepared by Jay Altizer. Perhaps Jay might know what generation of Altizers this family is! Click here to learn more about the Altizer family.

The Orphaned Images Project: Home

11 09 2011

The caption on the back reads, “Mar. 20, 1938 Home (at their home)

The guy second from left looks a little scary, doesn’t he?

The Orphaned Images Project: Giant teacher, little desk

11 09 2011

This photo was one of more than 600 b&w prints I purchased on eBay from a seller in Virginia. Many of the photos from this collection have captions (thought this one does not) and most are dated from the 30s to the 40s. To learn more about The Orphaned Images Project, click here and to see more orphaned images, click here.

Joe McNally Presents: A 9/11 Remembrance, In Pictures

6 09 2011

Joe McNally is one of my very favorite photographers. He has been shooting for more than 30 years and was LIFE magazine’s staff photographer from 1994-1998. He has contributed to National Geographic magazine for 20 years and is the author of The Moment It Clicks and The Hotshoe Diaries (which I highly recommend adding to your library!). Wikipedia reports, “McNally has been described by American Photo magazine as perhaps the most versatile photojournalist working today and was listed as one of the hundred most important people in photography.” Check out McNally’s website and blog here.

I attended one of his Flash Bus Tour workshops in Austin this past spring. He paired up with local photographer and flash guru, David Hobby of Strobist.com fame, for the entire tour. Dave lives in nearby Maryland and his website is a great resource for lighting tips. (I intend to blog about that fantastic workshop and share photos soon. I shot this photo of Joe during the workshop).

McNally recently guest blogged on Scott Kelby‘s Photoshop Insider blog. Scott, another of my favorite teachers, is a graphic designer, photographer, the editor-in-chief of Photoshop User magazine and the founder of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals). Scott is a best-selling author as well, having penned more than 40 books. He is also president of Kelby Media Group, an Oldsmar, Florida-based software training, education, and publishing firm. He is most definitely a Renaissance man—there’s not much he can’t (or doesn’t already) do!

In his guest spot, McNally writes about shooting 246 portraits of NYC firemen with the Giant Polaroid camera in the aftermath of 9/11 in Joe McNally Presents: A 9/11 Remembrance, In Pictures. It is an inspiring read with amazing photos accompanying it. Head over to it here.

The Orphaned Images Project: Gertrude Kitchens and Olive May

17 07 2011

From the writing on the back of the top postcard, I’m surmising the lovely young woman is Gertrude Kitchen (or Kitchens). It is addressed to Miss Ethel Noland, a woman I wrote about in a previous posting on this blog. There was no address or cancelled stamp, so the postcard was never sent.

The second postcard is addressed to Mrs. Frank Wilson, Idaville, Ind., RR No. 19. It was sent June 27, 1913 at 8:00 a.m. from Lima, Ohio. (Postage was just a penny!) The card reads as follows:

Dear ??? and all: How is this for outdoors picture. Why don’t you write. How are you and (Maud?) and Leonard? — Gertrude

The baby is identified as Olive May, 14 mo. old.

Tall Bearded Iris ‘Indian Chief’

14 05 2011

I’m pretty confident in my identification of these flowers after seeing this one here. I photographed these beauties in a garden located between the original Vienna Library, which is now a museum (circa 1897, relocated to its current location in 1970) and the Freeman House Store & Museum in Vienna, VA. The Freeman House has served as a residence, store, Civil War hospital, railroad station, post office and fire department, and is now a museum and general store. The little L-shaped garden was ablaze in color with Bearded Iris, Poppy, Salvia and Foxglove blooms. The overcast and slightly drizzly weather made for perfect photographic conditions—saturated color and glorious raindrops on petals!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The Orphaned Images Project: Ethel’s postcard home

9 03 2011

This postcard was sent to Mrs. J.W. Noland in Laketon, Indiana on March 2, 1911 from their daughter Ethel in Wabash, Indiana. The postcard reads:

Dear Papa & Mother,
Received Saturday’s check—many thanks. Expect I will be home Saturday.
With love, Ethel

I’m not sure which woman on the front of the postcard is Ethel. I have several other photos from the same source with the family name “Noland” written on the back of each. Alonzo Noland, John Noland and George Noland are three of the names mentioned in several photos. I’m assuming they are brothers, based on photos.

During a cursory web search, I discovered a Mary Ethel Noland in Missouri (known to her friends as Ethel), who was President Truman’s first cousin, a fervent genealogist and keeper of all things related to her cousin’s presidency. The Mary Ethel Noland Papers (4,800 pages!) date from 1672-1971 with the bulk of material spanning 1893-1971. The collection includes postcards, printed materials, correspondence, charts, photographs and newspaper clippings relating to her genealogy of Harry S. Truman. She donated the collection to the U.S. government.

I got a tad excited about my Ethel (remotely) being that Ethel, but I really can’t connect them because Truman’s Ethel was in Missouri for most of her life; my Ethel appears to remain in Indiana throughout the series of postcards. That Ethel did have a sister (Nellie) and this postcard shows that my Ethel possibly had a sister, too. I’ve seen a few photos of Truman’s Ethel and none look quite like either of the young women in the postcard below.

It’s rather fun to research (if even just for five minutes) some background information for these orphaned photos—and they’re not even my relatives! I am consistently amazed at how much information can be found if you have a name, city, state or even a studio name written on a photo—even one dating back to the late 1800s. I know I owe most of this gratitude to the multitude of fervent genealogists out there!

A little behind-the-scenes research: My friend Barbara, a self-admitted fan of The Orphaned Images Project, just made a comment on this post and asked about the photograph—suggesting maybe it was bought at a store and quite possibly isn’t Ethel or her sister. I did a little thinking on the subject, then a little research. Here is the thread below:

BARBARA: Now I am confused…would the photo on the front of the postcard necessarily be the writer of the card? (Ethel) Back in those days how easy was it to get your photo taken and have post cards printed? (And we didn’t have Cindy Dyer around to make such cards!) So, I say neither woman is Ethel, they are just two sassy gals on a post card purchased at the local drug store or post office on which to write correspondence.
Am I missing something? I am a fan of the Orphaned Images Project. :)

ME: Barbara, that thought had occurred to me too, but I have lots of postcards that have photos of people and they’re signed on the back. One postcard has two young men on the front and it is signed like it’s from two young men on the back. It would have been easy to make a print that had postcard info printed on the back and an area to write. The subject would have a portrait taken and just request that the back of the image be postcard-ready. Sort of a pre-cursor to Costco’s Christmas card print. I’m glad you’re a fan of The Orphaned Images Project!

Oh, and one more thing….the back of a print made then was always matte finish (at least in all of those photos I have). It would be incredibly simple to simply STAMP the postcard art/type on the back and voila! You have a print that is postcard-ready!

So, as I always do, I typed in http://www.google.com and did a search for “postcards with photographs from the 1900s.” I found this article by author Mike Yoder:


Here is an excerpt from that article that confirms my thought on the process:

For the price of a 1-cent stamp and a special postcard, Mary had printed her son’s photo on one side, added a note on the other and put it in the post. It was a turn-of-the-century social media exchange with user-generated content. In 1898 the postal service established a reduced postage rate for privately printed postcards. In 1902, the Eastman Kodak Co. produced a postcard-sized photographic paper on which images could be printed. These two events began a photograph postcard boom.

The Orphaned Images Project: Ladies in hats

8 03 2011

The Orphaned Images Project: A gathering

6 03 2011

Is he asking her to dance with him? To marry him? She seems hesitant. Suspender man seems to be admiring her assets. Several of her friends are smiling and laughing in the background. Do they know something she doesn’t know? Will she say yes?

The Orphaned Images Project: Couples

2 02 2011

In the early days of photography, very long exposures were required. I’ve read different reasons for the poker face on most of the subjects—everything ranging from wanting to appear upper class to the standard practice of wearing an uncomfortable brace to hold heads steady during long exposures to bad teeth to the Great Depression and wars—all giving the subjects nothing to smile about in the first place! And at that time photographs were only done by professionals. It wasn’t until cameras became available to hobbyists that photographs became more casual, more candid, and far less composed. All of the couples below exhibit that same solemn look, save for the happy hugging couple by the sea in the top left photo.

Something interesting I noticed, and I don’t know if this was common back in those days or something just this particular photographer did—several of the couples and single portraits I have in my collection show the subject(s) wearing an entire rose—stem, thorns, leaves and all—dangling at an angle with the wilted bloom facing downward. No neatly trimmed boutonnieres for this photographer!

Stone House, Manassas National Battlefield

1 02 2011

Thought I’d share a photo that Michael shot (using his Nikon D40) of the Stone House at Manassas National Battlefield after our latest snowstorm. The house was a refuge for wounded soldiers during the First Battle of Manassas. It is one of only three intact pre-Civil War buildings in the Park and has stood the test of time since the 1840s. Learn more about the history of the house here.

The Orphaned Images Project: Picnics

31 01 2011

The Orphaned Images Project: John (Judge) Botts

23 01 2011

John Judge Botts is Tippie’s paternal grandfather. Born 3.15.1815 in Clairborne County, Tennessee, he was the son of Thomas Botts and Martha Wilson. He had eight siblings: Nancy, Seth, Joshua, Susan Frances, Anna, Martha Elizabeth and Thomas Howard. He married Elizabeth Harvey 6.11.1835 in Howard County, Missouri. He was 20 and she was 14. They had 10 children (!): Sarah Margaret, Louisa, William Marion, John Dickerson, Martha Frances (Franny), Mary Ella, Lenora Belle (Nora), Emma Katherine, Nancy and Mary. He died 8.22.1896 in Salisbury, Chariton, Missouri.

The Botts family research reveals that...in 1838 John and his brother Joshua were among the volunteers to the Mormon War. The Mormons raided this section, stealing fodder by cutting the corn and packing it on their horses, and digging potatoes and carrying them away. Sometimes they traded trinkets for it, but generally took what they could lay their hands on. John was the first settler of Parsons Creek township within its present domain. He first came in 1833, and his brother, Joshua came with him, and they put up a cabin of poles. He settled on section one, township fifty-seven, range twenty-two, but it was nearly three years before he brought his family.

From the Chariton Township archives: Judge Botts comes of an ancestry of brave-hearted pioneers and soldiers, who have shown the hearty manhood to help clear away the forests and build up states, and the moral courage to defend them. The founder of the family in this country came to America in the early days of the colonies. Judge’s grandfather, Joshua Botts, was a soldier in the war of the revolution, and followed the meteor like flag of the infant Republic until it moved in triumph from north to south. He afterwards became a pioneer settler of Tennessee and reared a large family. He lived to the advanced age of 106 years and finally died in Linn county.

The judge’s father, Thomas Botts, who was a soldier in the war of 1812, tore himself away from her whom he had just made his wife, and volunteered for the defense of his country. When the storm of the war had passed he became the first settler in the northern part of the county, at a time when his only neighbors were the knights of the torch and the tomahawk. He lived here many years and was a successful farmer and became very wealthy. His wife, formerly Miss Martha Wilson, daughter of Robert Wilson, was a woman worthy to be the wife of a soldier, pioneer and noble hearted man….About 1834, the family moved to Linn county, where the father died about 1852 and the mother about 1875.

Judge Botts was little more than a year old when his parents settled in this county in 1816. He grew up here and was married in 1835, Miss Elizabeth, daughter of William Harvey, becoming his wife. They were both quite young, the groom being only twenty and the bride fourteen, but their married life has been a happy one, and has been blessed with ten children: Louisa A., the wife of Dr. J. R. Sands, of Salisbury; William M., of Linn county, John D., Fanny, the wife of Dr. Worthington Morehead, and Misses Ella, Mary E., Nora B. and Emma B., all of this county. A year after his marriage, Judge B., moved to Linn county, and there lived until sixteen years ago, when he returned to this county. The qualities in a family that makes pioneers and soldiers in early and troublous times, in times of peace and in an advanced state of society, make prosperous, progressive citizens, leaders and representative men in their respective localities. Judge Botts became one of the largest and wealthiest farmers of Linn county, his farm numbering over 1,300 acres, and he was one of the leading citizens of the county. For thirty years he was a member of the county court, and two years later he was an able and popular representative of the people in the state legislature. In 1867, he returned to Howard county to spend the golden evening of his life under the vine and fig tree he had planted in the radiant morning. Here he has an elegant home supplied with every comfort. “How blest is he who crowns in shades like these, a youth of labor with an age of ease.”


Here’s an interesting connection to me (geographically). John Judge Botts’ grandfather, Joshua, was born in Overwharton Parish, Stafford, Virginia 7.24.1751. (Stafford is only about 30 miles from me!) Joshua married Sabina Birdwell in 1766 and they had four children: Seth, Ellen, Rebecca and Thomas (who was John Judge Botts’ father). Joshua died in 1857 in Linn, Missouri at the (unheard-of-in-that-era) age of 106.

This is the only photograph in any of the albums that had a name scribbled on the back! He’s a rather stern looking fella, isn’t he?

The Orphaned Images Project: Tippie Botts’ album (cabinet cards)

23 01 2011

This 8×10 album was owned by Tippie Botts of Meadville, Linn Co., Missouri, and is inscribed with the date Oct. 5th, 1886. These are just a few of the cabinet cards in the album.

The Orphaned Images Project: Nellie’s bible & family photos

22 01 2011

In the box our family friend Doris gave me many years ago, there are two photo albums that are chock full of cabinet cards, tintypes and even a post-mortem photo of a little girl (both albums belong to a young woman from Missouri named Tippie Botts). There are also three Daguerreotypes (or Ambrotypes), three autograph books (one belongs to Tippie and the other two belong to Helen Shepherd), and a tiny bible given to Nellie by her mother in 1877.

The main title page reads: The Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues; and with the former translations diligently compared and revised, by His Majesty’s Special Command. Appointed to be read in churches. London, printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode, printers to the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty.

The two photos below are the remaining Daguerreotypes Ambrotypes that were not inside the photo albums. I assume the trio in the photo below are siblings. In the photo of the older gent, the photographer appears to have painted something white in his hand—I can see texture on top of the image.

Late-Breaking Research!
On one ancestry website I discovered this information: Nellie’s birthname was Nellie Celeste and she was born 12.21.1871. When you look at the year Burdette Barr married Eva Trimble, you’ll note that she couldn’t have been Nellie’s mother. Further research reveals he was previously married to Hattie Grey on 9.15.1869 in Linn County, Missouri. Hattie most likely was Nellie’s mother.

Nellie married William Sterling Botts on 12.24.1891 when she was 20 years old. Her sister Carrie married Nat Hopson and another sister, Ida Belle (born 10.19.1873) married a man with the last name Littrell and then married a second time to Virgil Botts.

The smaller photo album belongs to Tippie Botts and in the front of the album I found a newspaper clipping that reads:

Death of B.G. Barr

Burdette G. Barr a former citizen of Meadville died in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, July 10. Mr. Barr had been sick about ten days with the pleurisy, and the news of his death came as a shock to his relatives and friends here. The remains were brought here for interment. The funeral was held at the Baptist church Sunday morning under the direction of the M.W.A. of which Mr. Barr was an honored member. The funeral was preached by Eld Smith of Wheeling. The immense congregation which packed the church gave evidence of the great esteem in which the deceased was help by the people of his community. With impressive ceremony the body was laid to rest in the Meadville cemetery by the Woodman. Mr. Barr was born near Beloit Wisconsin, July 18, 1849, moved to Mo. in 1869, lives on a farm near Meadville until fall of ’98. Moved to South Dakota in 1900. Had three children all of whom live in Meadville, Mesdames Nellie Botts, Carrie Hopson, and Belle Botts. He was married Dec. 1899 to Mrs. Eva Trimble who survives him. The relatives have the…(clipping torn at this point)

I’m surmising that Tippie is related to Nellie since she kept the newspaper clipping in her photo album.

Special thanks to Alan for clarifying that these are Ambrotypes and not Daguerreotypes!

The Orphaned Images Project: Tippie Botts’ album (tintypes)

22 01 2011

Tintypes are also known as ferrotypes and melainotypes. They are actually produced on a metallic sheet (not actually tin) instead of traditional glass. The plate was coated with collodion photographic emulsion and sensitized just before it was exposed. Introduced by Adolphe Alexandre Martin in 1853, it became instantly popular, especially in the U.S.

Tintypes were popular with street photographers and photographers working outside fairs and carnivals because the process didn’t require much capital to get set up in business. It was also faster to create: no negative needed and no drying time—making it a one step process. Tintypes also didn’t require mounting in a case and were not as fragile as glass-based images. They were easy to cut and fit into pocket watches or charms. It was the most common photographic process until gelatin-based processes were introduced. 

In some of the images below, the photographer hand tinted the cheeks of his subjects.

Late-Breaking Research! I just figured out that Sarah (Sallie) Buchanan Gordon (the young girl whose autograph book I previously posted, along with a lock of her hair) would later marry William Marion Botts, a farmer. They had four children: Parrilee, William Jr., Lorraine and Tippie. So it appears the contents of this box might have originated with one family after all. I’m not sure what Nellie’s connection to the family is, though—perhaps they are cousins.

(It just dawned on me that my enthusiasm for this particular project is verging on obsessive…perhaps I should be researching my own family instead? Then again, I’ve never seen photos this old from either side of my family!)


The Orphaned Images Project: Resseguie, Comstock and sundry items

20 01 2011

Several years ago Michael and I attended an ephemera auction in Alexandria, Virginia on a whim. We were out shopping and saw a sign announcing the auction to be held the next night, so we decided to check it out. I don’t remember spending much money (less than $100, as I recall), but I came away with a wealth of paper treasures. In addition to several etchings (one dated 1794!), I acquired a medium-sized (ratty) rattan suitcase, its lid bulging from the contents of the case—early 1900s photographs, concert programs (including a Casino de Paris production of Charming Paris, directed by Henri Varna and featuring French film actor Robert Berri, Joan Daniell, Nicolas Arasse and others), a 1910-11 Scholar’s Monthly Report (for fifth grader Earl C. Holsinger from Mayland, VA), books (including Hindenburg’s March into London, translated from the German original and published in 1916 by the John C. Winston Company in Philadelphia), postcards, magazines (including a 1920 Harper’s Magazine), newspaper clippings, a Savings Bank of Baltimore statement booklet (for Mr. Carl E. Weingarten of Baltimore, MD with deposits in 1939–1941 ranging from $1.10 to a royal sum of $5.00!), a 1921 automobile insurance card (for Raymond Koonts of Bedford County, PA), several 1930 Western Union Cablegrams (sent to London from a New Jersey woman named Mimi reporting about a man named Gunnar who is very ill), handwritten letters from a Syracuse University student from Maryland in 1972, and manuals for everything from motors to kitchen appliances. There are numerous other items that I’ll share with you as the mood strikes me. I have no clue as to whether this collection is from one sentimental person or a jumbled mix thrown together by the auctioneer. In any case, I will share a few of the more interesting items from this treasure trove of history.

Most items were loose in the suitcase, but there was one plastic baggie with a stack of photos seemingly all relating to a house or two and the families who resided there. Several of the photos show a family on the front porch of a beautiful white two-story structure, a grandfather with his grandchildren and various gardens around a house. The first photo is a b&w postcard of a watercolor painting of a house labeled “Alexander Resseguie—1738.” Written in pencil on the back is the following:

My great grandfather purchased this house in 1858 for his son-in-law James Comstock, who was my grandfather (father of Strong Comstock). The original Comstock house was across the road on land still in the family (grant of land, 1700) long since burned.


In my research I first found mention of an Alexander Resseguie in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1709. Below is an excerpt from the genealogical record I found on this site here.

Alexander Resseguie was a settler in Norwalk, Conn., in 1709. Tradition has it that he was the younger son of one Alexandre Resseguie, a Huguenot refugee from France, who brought with him from the mother country a small hair-covered trunk, studded with iron nails, containing all of the family wealth he was able to secure, consisting largely of title deeds to property in France. Hoping to some day regain his abandoned possessions, he educated his eldest son to the profession of the law, intending when the time was ripe, he should return to Fiance and establish a claim to the family estates. This hope was destined never to be realized, for the son died just previous to the time of his intended departure on this mission, and the father, disheartened, abandoned the undertaking; the trunk* and papers passed into the possession of the younger son, and at a subsequent period the latter were, the most of them, destroyed by fire.

(*This trunk is now in the possession of Col. George E. Gray of San Francisco, It is eleven and one-half inches long, seven inches wide, and four inches high; the top oval. The wood is worm-eaten; very little hair remains upon the leather, and the nails with which it is studded are of hammered iron. The papers contained in the trunk were nearly all destroyed by fire, by the wife of Timothy Resseguie (14), during a fit of temporary insanity.)

Just how much of fact underlies this tradition we know not. It is the opinion of the compiler that the family fled to England, before coming to this country, and that one Alexandre de Ressiguier, from Trescle’oux, in Dauphiny, who was known as a silk manufacturer in London, in 1696, was the father of Alexander of Norwalk. It is probable that an earlier residence of the family in America would have been a matter of record, but no trace of the name of Resseguie (save one * ) has been found prior to the appearance of Alexander in Norwalk, in 1709. Thus we are compelled to record him as the head of the family, and the ancestor of the American Resseguies. On the first day of April, 1709, he purchased a tract of land of Samuel St. John, and from this time for many years, he was interested in acquiring land, the records showing one hundred or more estates to which he held the titles, located in what is now comprised in the towns of Nonvalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Westport and Weston. The ability to make these large acquisitions would seem to indicate the substantial character of the contents of the hair trunk.


So here I am with my (ratty) rattan suitcase full of treasures, suddenly wishing I possessed the moth-eaten leather trunk! It is highly likely the house in these photos was inhabited by generations of people related to Alexandre Resseguie. Let’s go with that assumption until I discover otherwise.

Notes: The photo of the little girl has “Lilly” written in pencil on the back. Looks like Grandpa is catching a few zzzzz’s before dinner in the photo of the elderly gentleman in the dining room. The last photo of a house may be the same house and perhaps the portico was changed at a later date. I zoomed in on the photo in Photoshop and the shutters and narrow windows on either side of the front door are the same, but it could possibly be the original Comstock house directly across the street from this house, which, according to the postcard author, “long since burned down.” It looks like there is a lively lawn party going on—and take a look at the car in the foreground!

When researching just exactly what classifies as “ephemera,” I discovered there is a club for such collectors (but of course there is!)—The Ephemera Society of America. Their definition of ephemera: “includes a broad range of minor (and sometimes major) everyday documents intended for one-time or short-term use.” I wouldn’t consider these family photos “one-time or short-term” use, but my suitcase did contain a lot of memorabilia, ticket stubs, programs and the like.