Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Larimer & McKibbin Cousins in Elkhart, Indiana

More than once, hubby's Larimer cousins married their distant McKibbin (or McKibben) cousins in Indiana. Above, yet another Larimer/McKibbin headstone from Eldridge Cemetery, photographed for me by the very kind genealogy buffs at the Elkhart County Historical Society. (If you're looking for someone buried in Elkhart, click to the society's listing of cemeteries in the county.)

Hallie Richard Larimer (1899-1960) was my husband's 4th cousin, 1x removed, descended from my husband's 5th great-grandpa, Robert Larimer (who was shipwrecked on his way from Northern Ireland to the New World). His WWI draft registration listed him as stout, medium build, grey eyes, and light brown hair. 

Although Hallie grew up in Elkhart county, Indiana, living next door to McKibbin and Showalter relatives, he married Mary Magdalene McKibbin in Benton Harbor, Michigan in 1920. He was not quite 21 and she was a month shy of her 17th birthday. Hallie was a mason--the son of a mason--and he continued in that trade after he and his wife raised a family and moved from Elkhart county to South Bend, Indiana, where he died in 1960.

Mary Magdalen McKibbin (1903-1976) was the daughter of John Henry McKibbin and Susan Henrietta Phelps--and a descendant of Alexander McKibbin and Harriet Larimer. So the tradition of intermarriage between McKibbins and Larimers goes way back into the 1800s.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Military Monday: David Mahler Had a Tattoo?! Yes, I Learned with a Click

David Mahler was the older of two brothers of my paternal grandma, Henrietta Mahler Burk.

Born in New York City, he worked in Hollywood for Columbia Pictures for many years, through the kindness of a Mahler in-law who was part of the studio's founding Cohn family.
I've researched David's background and I knew he was a "rigger" in Camden, NJ in 1918 when he registered for the WWI military. But I hadn't ever seen his WWII registration card--until today, when it turned up in a shaky leaf on Ancestry.

Page 1 of the document was quite informative: It confirmed that David was born in Riga, Latvia, and confirms his birthdate of March 15, 1882. Interestingly, David gave the name/address of a neighbor (or possibly a work colleague) for "someone who will always know your address."

If I had relied only on Ancestry's transcription, or simply stopped at page 1 of the registration card, I would never have learned what David looked like. Luckily, I can't resist reviewing the actual image of every document, and clicking to the image before and after to be sure that I've seen everything there is to see on my ancestors.

Sure enough, there was a page 2 image (not transcribed by Ancestry, of course), and it contained a physical description of my great uncle. He was 5' 4", 153 lbs, with salt-and-pepper hair and brown eyes.

Most interestingly, he had "DM" tattooed on his right arm, which might have been left over from his days as a "rigger." I can only imagine what his mother Tillie Jacobs Mahler would have thought of his tattoo, if she knew (I strongly suspect she didn't).

So always click to see the actual image and click to either side of it just in case there's more! Not to mention that seeing an ancestor's handwriting or printing can tell a story all on its own.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Friday's Faces from the Past: My Family Photo Detective Experience

Who is this little girl, holding a tambourine and standing next to an ornate piano? I posted her photo in my "mystery" gallery last year. Alas, no one in the family recognizes her.

Following the process described by Maureen A. Taylor in her excellent Family Photo Detective, I wanted to look for clues to identifying this mystery girl from the photo itself.

My conclusion (supported by the steps I followed below) is that for a mystery photo such as this little girl, the location of the photographer and the costume are two vital clues to when, where, and why the photo was taken.

Step by step, here's how I analyzed the photo:

Photographer's location in 1925 - most likely AFTER the photo was taken
  1. Maureen recommends analyzing the type of photo print as a first step. This is not a daguerreotype, meaning it's newer. It's a photo (silver print?) glued to a matte board with the photographer's name and address, which seems to suggest the date is later than 1900. 
  2. Second, Maureen looks at the paper and board. The card stock for the little girl seems to be thick, and the edges are beveled, suggesting it's relatively new (early 20th century, rather than late 19th century). By the way, Maureen gives a hint for identifying relatives among a collection of portrait photos: If the number on the back of one photo is, say, 105, then portraits numbered 104 or 106 may be siblings or parents or children of the person in 105.
  3. The next step is to identify the photographer, which is easy in this case. "F. Krichefsky" is the name imprinted on the card stock, with a studio at 496 Claremont Parkway, Bronx, N.Y. Maureen suggests an online search for the photographer to find out more. No luck using Google, but I used Ancestry and immediately found the 1925 New York City directory listing for Mr. Krichefsky, photographer--at a different address, half a mile away from the address on my mystery photo. Then I used the mapping function to see where the studio was located (see map below). Off-hand, I don't know of ancestors who lived within walking distance--but I still don't know when the photo was taken.
    Photographer's studio location in 1915-17
  4. Still researching the photographer, I searched for his name plus "Bronx 1910" and came up with an image he had produced that is dated 1905-10, in the collection of the Museum of Jewish History. This is helping me narrow down the period of the photo. Also I found "Faivel Krichevsky" in the 1912 NYC Business Directory, a photographer at 496 Wendover Ave. In the 1915-16-17 NYC directories, I finally found "Feibel Krichefsky" at the Claremont Parkway address! So most likely this is more in the approximate time-frame of my little girl's photograph.
    Spelling slowed me down but here's the photographer in the NYC directory, at the address on my photo!
  5. Maureen suggests thinking about when in the person's life the image might have been taken--for a special event, as an example. This mystery girl looks too young for school but perhaps this was taken for a holiday or because the rest of the family was in the studio for a portrait? Music is clearly a major theme, but I don't know why. I have to return to my mystery photo archive box to see whether others were from this studio...perhaps there was a special event for the whole family, and they used that opportunity for individual portraits.
  6. Next would be facial recognition, which I would tackle using Picasa, free from Google. I'm saving this for another time.
  7. Maureen puts a lot of emphasis on "identifying costume" (chapter 9). Because of the big bow in the hair, and the shoes, the date is early in the 20th century. Her loose dress also seems to be from the pre-1920 era.
MY CONCLUSION: The photo is probably from 1905-1915. My next step: Look up the 1905/1915 NY Censuses and the 1910 US Census addresses for my ancestors in the Bronx and see whether any were within walking distance of this studio on Claremont Parkway. Also, I'll search my other mystery photos to find more, if any, from the Krichefsky studio.