Mr. Y e-mailed me several photos from his family collection that had no identification, including this family group. He knew which branch of the family they came from, and that they had lived in Wilson, N.C. He suspected this was a picture of his great-grandparents. Mr. Y had started with genealogical research, including census records, to get the names and ages of children in the family. He asked if I could come up with any more clues.
|Photos courtesy of the Yarborough family|
I wasn't sure if I could help, at first. I thought the boy in the back looked like he was wearing a military cape, but I'm not an expert at clothing clues and I didn't want to steer anybody wrong. I finally decided I would just look up the photographers' marks and not spend too much time on this lovely puzzle.
The names on the left were a little hard to read from the scan, but I picked out "Engle." I didn't expect to find him in my Photographers in North Carolina book because of the Philadelphia mark, but I looked for him anyway — and got lucky.
Apparently John F. Engle had a long, illustrious career, making photographs all around the country, including Philadelphia. He did spend some time in North Carolina, and worked with a man named Lund. Look closely: Lund is the name beneath Engle on the mark. And in the center is an elaborate E and L.
I looked up the other name. Viggo Lund worked with Engle in 1897 on Nash Street in Wilson. They worked together other years in Elizabeth City, but since this family branch lived in Wilson, the time they had a studio there would be a good assumption.
Most of the photographers in the book worked in certain areas for several years or even decades. But these two men worked together in that town just one year. Amazingly, that narrowed down the photograph to 1897.
According to Mr. Y's research and more recent photos, the young man with the mustache is probably his great-grandfather, Bud Perry. The older couple are his step-father and mother, Claiborn Perry and Zilphia Smith, who had five children at home in 1900. In 1897, the two boys would have been about 12 and 15, and the three girls age 9, 7 and 3. Bud, 20, got married in December of that year.
This lovely young lady also posed for Francis Marion Winstead. Upon closeup comparison of her face with the two dark-headed girls in the family portrait, I think she is the little girl on the right. That puts this photo toward the latter part of the 1898-1908 window.
Mr. Y is hot on the trail of his ancestors, armed with a few more clues. And once again I'm glad I invested in a good reference book that provides such useful information.