4 Women

Sarah, Agnes, Maud & Pearl

Today’s photo is a lovely cabinet card found in the Great Tennessee Vacation Haul, and shows four young women. The back of the card identifies them as Sarah, Agnes, Maud and Pearl.  Sarah and Pearl are on the ends, with Agnes & Maud in the middle. I have no knowledge of their relationship. Could they be sisters, cousins, or simply great friends?

The clothing suggest the 1880s trending to the 1890s. Sleeves are puffed but not ballooned. Because they are seated it’s not really possible to guess if these are A-line or bustled skirts.

The photographer was J. E. Kester in Brockwayville, PA, which is located midstate. It was settled in 1822 and named for the Brockway family which first settled in the area. By 1925, the name Brockwayville had been shortened to Brockway. Brockway has always been a small town, with only 1.2 square miles, and in the 1880 census there were 360 people living there. Current population from the 2010 census is 2072.

I found many other photographs online by J. E. Kester, all seeming to be from the 1890s, as well as a Commemorative Biography indicating that Blanche (Luther) Kester, wife of J. E., was living in Brockwayville in 1898.

Side eye


I just love this little image! The square-ish card mount is approximately 2.5″x2.5″, and the photo is mounted to the back, with a thin paper covering the back of the photo. The woman at first glance just looks the “usual” stern of antique photos. However, when you look closely, she must have glanced over at the photographer because her eyes are not tracking off the the right, but looking back at the viewer, and it makes it look like she is giving the side eye. Too funny!

Beyond that, take note of the lovely small tucks across her bodice. This work was sometimes done by hand, but there were also fabrics made with tucks in them. If it was done by hand, it’s beautiful but tedious to accomplish. The tucks – if sewn by hand – would be small and precise, with tiny stitches that could barely be seen. Hand sewing is truly becoming a lost art, because it takes much practice and sometimes better materials than we have readily available to us today. The dropped puffed sleeves of this garment suggest late 1890s or early 1900s, but without more of the dress I can’t make a better guess.

Her crowning glory of a hat has bows, flowers and feathers I believe, and looks like an amazing millinery confection. I wonder how on trend this type of hat was, or if it was just that old thing?

Bruce D McSparrow

tn-vintage-pix-7 tn-vintage-pix-4

One of these lads is Bruce D. McSparrow. Due to some home construction, I have packed these photographs away and I’m not sure which one of these had the writing on the back! Whoops. I also had it carefully labeled on the original file, but my computer is also packed away. Fooey.

Bruce was 7 years old at the time of the photo, September 3, 1897. These two photographs are small, only about 3″ x 4″ with the image centered in the card.


They were accompanied by their mother, previously shown in this post. As it turns out, this is identified on the back as Mrs. S. M. McSparrow.

The Faded Girl

Faded girl W

Where are you, sweet child?

Faded girl back W

Decorative backmark for May & Co.

This later 19th century photograph, a CDV, once showed a pretty child, posed upon a chair, with round baby face youth looking out at her parents. Today, we know she was there, but over time the image has faded to a grainy suggestion of its former glory. I don’t know enough about vintage photographic processes to even suggest what has caused the photo to fade so badly. Perhaps it was exposed to direct sunlight, or perhaps it wasn’t developed properly in the first place.

The photographer was May & Co, of Station Road, Northwich, England. Northwich is in the county of Cheshire, northwest of London. I found a reference in an 1892 directory for Northwich, to a George Austin May & Co, photographer in Station Road.


Uncle Charles

Top Hat W

Top Hat back


Up for your perusal today is Uncle Charles from Liverpool. I like his shiny top hat and well buffed shoes. They look to be a low boot with elastic insets to allow it over the foot. Elastic was invented in the 1820s by Thomas Hancock and his collaboration with Charles Macintosh led to the production of rubberized overcoats, among other things. Hancock finally patented his rubber processing machine in 1837 and became the leading producer of rubber goods in the world. Elastic was used in boots and shoes extensively, both in men’s and women’s fashions.

The photographer Uncle Charles used was Harry Emmens of 30 Church Street and 108 Seel Street, Liverpool. By the studio appointments, I’m guessing this CDV was made in the 1880s or 1890s. Stay tuned for more photos from this family. Someone at some point identified a few of them, but I haven’t had a chance to try to track anyone down yet…if I can at all.

This is a Sepia Saturday submission! Click through and explore as they did in times past, up the lazy river, around the bend and across the great oceans.

Take a tour of the world

Artistic photograph shows long hair

Lush locks

Lush locks

Turning to a new source of photographs, I am delighted with this artistic image of a lovely young woman. She shows her unbound hair and is draped with a white robe. It’s rather suggestive for the times, don’t you think? It brings to mind a woman as she readies herself for sleep, brushing out her hair while in her dressing gown. To the proper Victorians, this might have been quite intimate. Her pose in profile, looking skyward is prescient of the glamorous movie shots of the 1930s. All we lack is back lighting and Max Factor.

Lush locks back

Window & Grove Photographers, London

As you can see on the back of the mount, this was made by Window & Grove, photographers to the Royal Family at 63A Baker Street, Portman Square, London W. The address is reminiscent of another Baker Street house. Do you know which one?

My knowledge of photographers in Britain is limited on the best of days, and my knowledge of the geography of Britain is fairly limited as well. I can find London on a map and I’m aware that Scotland, Wales and Ireland are all parts of the greater British Isles. I could not tell you if this was a tony address as I could of a New York city direction, however, so if anyone is so inclined to enlighten us all, please do in the comments.

I am putting this up as a return to Sepia Saturday, the blog party that takes you to vintage photo websites from around the world! Sepia Saturday doesn’t require following a theme although a thematic prompt is provided every week. I discovered in the past that I focused so much on meeting the theme that I lost the fun in the old photos. And, after a refocus of this site on 19th century photos, a return to Sepia Saturday seems in order as well. So, press the button, my friend! Send me back in time…

Trot on over!

Streeter Family Update

For several years now, I have been tracking the Streeter Family – the subject of the C. Murray Album, which was given to me by a good friend. Little did my friend know I was going to become slightly obsessed with this family in the hopes of figuring out who they were. Sometimes I find new information, sometimes people contact me through Ancestry.com, where I have created a Streeter Family tree in the hopes of connecting with the family. I find people will copy the photos on the family tree, but rarely connect to share information.

Well, my friend C. Murray just the other day found some more information that may shed light on this lost family.

Kate Parrish Streeter and child

Kate Parish Streeter and child

First is this beautiful portrait of Kate Parish Streeter and her child. Originally, I thought this curious baby was a girl because of the delicate facial features. The back of the photo carried a note that the photo was made on May 6, 1892 when the child was 15 months and 10 days old (making the date of birth January 28, 1891.) The child died a mere 22 days after this photo was taken, although the cause I do not know. C. Murray found a memorial on FindAGrave.com indicating that the baby was named B. Alford Streeter, dob January 26, 1891, death on May 28, 1892. B. Alford is interred in in the Riley Cemetery in Riley, Kansas.

Although we know on some level that childhood mortality was much higher prior to vaccinations becoming widely used in the 20th century, it is still sad to see a tiny child, just toddling along and learning about the world around him, only to be stopped short in his tracks. Although the memorial for B. Alford has dates of birth and death, there does not appear to be a photo of his marker. I have requested a photo from a volunteer and hopefully will hear more in the following days.

Second is beautiful little Flora Moses, cousin to B. Alford Streeter.

Flora - 7, Abbie - 4, Clyde - 9, taken in 1891

Flora – 7, Abbie – 4, Clyde – 9, taken in 1891

Pretty little Flora did not survive to have another portrait taken with her family and I really could not find anything to indicate why. Again, C. Murray found a memorial on FindAGrave.com with more detail.

Flora was the second child of George and Abbie Streeter Moses, who lived in Junction City, KS with their entire extended family. This photo is the last in the album to show Flora, and on the 1900 census she was not listed. According to the FindAGrave.com memorial, Flora perished on May 8, 1892 (just two days after the above photo of her cousin B. Alford was made). Her marker indicates she was 7 years, 10 months, 25 days of age at the time of her death. That puts her date of birth about September 14, 1884. And while we still do not know the cause of her death, somehow knowing when helps in processing the emotions. I was truly devastated when I first discovered her death, and the sadness still resonates as my daughter today is about 7 years and 10 months old. Life is fleeting.

For a full summary of the Streeter family, please visit the Streeter Family Overview that I wrote. I continue to be hopeful that someone, someday will find this site and be able to provide more information about the family. I feel like they are my family after all this time.

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