Friday, August 15, 2014


Today I'm going to show you some old pictures that Mom bought in antique shops.  I don't know why Mom buys these things.  The people in the photos aren't ancestors of hers, plus most of the pictures don't even have dogs in them.  But sometimes when I'm writing my blog, I just have to work with whatever material is available.

Okay, so here's a photo of a smiling young woman.  Usually, in these old photos, people did not smile because they had to hold their pose for a while, like maybe an hour, and it's hard to do that if you're smiling.  Also, it was a big, serious deal to have your photo taken, and that was another reason not to smile about it.  But Mom bought this picture because the subject is actually smiling, and she's very pretty, too.  On the back of the photo, someone wrote "Sophie L. Roberts, Age 17 Years."  On the front of the photo, there is the name of the studio, which was located in South Omaha.

The photo might have been taken in the early 1900s, just judging from the hairstyle and clothes.  Also, we can see that Sophie liked to wear jewelry, including one of those watches that you could pin to your bosom.  The rings she is wearing don't exactly look like wedding rings, but it's hard to be sure.

Here's a woman who looks much less happy than Sophie.  In fact, she might be in mourning, because she is wearing all black, and she is holding a handkerchief.  But women also wore black dresses for special occasions, such as going to church or getting married.  On the back of the photo it says "Francesce."  Mom says she has always seen this name spelled with an "a" at the end, so we don't know which languages would spell it with an "e."  The studio where the photo was taken was in Indianola, IA.

Francesce is wearing wire-rimmed glasses, a brooch, a chain that may be attached to a watch, a bracelet, and a wedding ring.  Mom is no expert on dress styles, but she thinks maybe this type of dress was worn in the late 1800s.

The woman in this photo may be wearing some type of ethnic outfit.  Or maybe not.  She looks to me like a young woman who came over on the boat and worked as a servant in someone's house, or maybe she worked in a factory.  She may be wearing her only nice dress for this photo.  As you can see from the photography studio address, she lived in Brooklyn, or at least somewhere in New York City.  On the back, someone wrote "old pictures mom had (Mapleyt Weaver Archer)."  I can't be totally sure the first name is spelled "Mapleyt," but the writing is pretty clear, and that's what the name looks like.  I did at least ten minutes of in-depth research, trying to find the name "Maypleyt" online to see if it had some special ethnic origin, but I couldn't find it.

This picture shows a baby wearing a big, white coat with a feathered collar, and some kind of dorky hat.  But in spite of having to wear these strange clothes, the baby is trying to smile, or at least he is not screaming and crying.  Usually, when you see babies in old studio photos, they are in christening gowns or some kind of little dresses.  It looks like this boy may have a dress on under his coat, but the coat seems to have been what the parents wanted to show off in the photo.  Well, the coat and the hat, both of which may have an ethnic origin of some sort.

Of course, you may be wondering where Sabetha, Kansas is, so I will tell you.  It's up in the northeast corner of the state, almost in Nebraska.  It might have got its name because the man who founded it arrived there on the Sabbath.  But that may just be a legend.

Here are four people sitting out in front of their house.  To the right, a farm wagon is parked in front of a barn.  The land looks very flat and boring.  The house looks very small.  Probably, the picture was taken by a traveling photographer who stopped by and asked if the people wanted to have their photo taken.  They decided they did, so they put on their best clothes and they brought out a couple of chairs to sit on.  The family dogs are also in the photo, but they are hard to see.  One of them is behind the woman on the left, and you can see the head of the other one beside the seated man on the right.

Mom and I puzzled over this photo for some time, trying to figure out how the people are related to each other.  The woman is probably married to the man that she's standing beside.  The boy on the right might be their son, but the man sitting beside the boy seems too old to be her son.  So maybe he is from the husband's previous marriage.  Or maybe he is a brother of the husband or wife.  It's sort of like the photographer was taking a census and just got a snapshot of the four people who happened to be living there at the time he came along.

Another thing that's interesting in this photo is that there are two front doors to the house.  Mom says she does not understand why people used to build houses in this way.  The only reason she can think of is that one door was for guests, and it went into the nice parlor.  The other door was for the family, and it went into a bedroom or the kitchen or some other part of the house that wasn't meant for entertaining guests.

This photo does not have a single bit of useful information written on it, such as who was in it, where it was taken, or when.  I really wish there had been some sort of law that required people to label their photos.  It would make my job as a blogger so much easier!

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