Saturday, February 23, 2013

Even Labeled Photos Can Confuse Me

  I recently purchased an antique photograph on Ebay.  The photographer was located in Auburn, New York, and on the back was written, “George and Hattie Taylor.  Beneath that in a different color ink, clearly added later, was written, “Cousins of Grandma Lund.  Amazingly enough I have found only two entries in local census records that could be the individuals in this picture.  Even more amazingly I have tracked down Grandma Lund.  (Sometimes I really astonish me.)

     After pouring over Lund families in the census I contacted a gentleman who was working on a local history project in Grandma Lund’s old stomping grounds.  The exact location of which I failed to write down and don’t now recall, though I'm pretty sure it was Hannibal, NY.  (Sometimes I really annoy me.)  Why don’t I just look him up again you may ask?  I tried; it seems he is done with the project and removed the details from the net.  Anyway, he wrote back that he had seen several photographs labeled in exactly the same manner as mine so I’m confident I found the right Grandma.  

     The problem is I have been unable to prove or disprove which of the two possibilities is the correct one.  Nor can I prove either of them is related to Mrs. Lund whose maiden name I don’t know.  Census records show a George and Hattie Taylor who are husband and wife, and another George and Hattie Taylor who are brother and sister.  Is this a family portrait of siblings or a wedding picture?  Did the person who wrote the second entry on the photo even know what they were talking about?  And what year was the photo taken?   This is where you come in -- Guesses anyone?  On Ancestry I found a post claiming Henry Taylor Sr. grandfather of George and Hattie the siblings, was a full blooded American Indian.  In the photo George does look kind of Native American don't you think?

     The couple doesn’t look very old to me, and I really hope it’s of the brother and sister from Savannah, New York which is pretty close to Auburn.  The other George and Hattie lived in Manlius, Onondaga County in between Syracuse and Auburn. Savannah Hattie was, as far as I can tell, the common law wife of my third great uncle Daniel O’Hora.  I’ve never found any sort of marriage record for them although New York and Pennsylvania both kept them at that time.  Oftentimes they were living apart in census records though she continued to use his last name.

     I don’t know much about Uncle Dan except that he was the black sheep and moved around a lot, at one point taking off to Washington Territory, then Pennsylvania and at another time was working as a foreman at the Brooklyn Naval Yards.  None of my older relatives, who are now departed, ever talked about him, and when asked they tended to ignore the question.   Because he had a common law wife perhaps? 


  1. The frustrating thing about the labels on some of these old photographs is that they sometimes are added by aging relatives who want their ancestors to be remembered. The unfortunate catch in that plan is that the reporting relative doesn't remember things correctly, either!

    Ellie, I've had family photographs with two sets of notes on the back--the one seemingly disagreeing with the other! It does take a lot of research to come to the full story, so I feel for you as you try to piece this mystery together! I'd say, anchor that search on linking with a Grandma Lund, as hard as that may sound.

    1. Jacqi, Thanks for the advise, I think you are right--back to Grandma Lund. Her maiden name may hold the answer.