Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Mystery and Magic of Old Photos

Old photos fascinate me, even if they're not of my own family. Sometimes in antique stores, I thumb through a box of old photos and wonder about the identity of the people--chubby children who once were the joy of their parents, a solemn bride and groom staring at the camera and wondering about their future together, bearded old men and and sturdy women embodying the collected wisdom of their families. Whose ancestors are they? Is no one around to claim them?

I like to study the faces in the photos of my ancestors, their eyes, shape of noses, mouths, and chins, the tilt of the head, the way they wear their hair, their clothing. Yes, I know, that may seem weird--but I want to know them. I don't want them to be forgotten. There's a scripture, Psalm 103:15-16, that often comes to my mind when I look at these pictures: "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more." That statement makes me a little sad. It inspires me to keep the memories alive a little longer. After all, the stories of our ancestors are our stories. Maybe I'm driven by something within myself that doesn't want to be forgotten, as well.

These photos of the Waggoner family intrigue me. This first one is the original that I mentioned in my previous post, the family portrait, sans Gordon and Leo. Years ago, my dad gave me this photo, and then a cousin of dad's sent me the other photo saying, "Two of the sons were added later, but I don't know which two." Happily, I sent her a copy of my picture, so she would know. This portrait may have been taken about 1909, perhaps just before or after the family moved from Virginia to Missouri.
Seated: Eli Pierce and Rachel Havens Waggoner. Left to right: Mary, Emory, Alice, Ida, Jacob, Amanda.
Looking at pictures of my grandmother Mary, I think she is remarkably beautiful. This one showing Mary on the right is my favorite. I'm not sure of the identity of the woman beside her. I've compared it to pictures of her sisters, but she doesn't look like one of them. If anyone has a clue to her identity, let me know.
Mary Waggoner on right and unknown friend.
On the back of the next picture in my mother's handwriting are the names Alice and Ida, but I don't think my mother identified the one on the left correctly. I think it is Mary and the one on the right is, maybe, Ida. But Ida was ten years younger than Mary. Does this girl look that much younger? Compare the image on the right with Mary and Alice in the family photo and let me know what you think. Mary or Alice?
Mary and Ida (?)
The next one of Mary may be a picture of her at a younger age than the ones above:
Mary Ann Waggoner

This next picture includes a bit of a mystery. It's the rest of the picture that I posted on the first day of my blog, but I had cropped a third person out of that one. On the back of this photo, someone wrote that the third person is Mary's cousin, Sallie Havens. However, when I sent this photo to some of Sallie Havens' descendans, they said not so. They sent me a photo of Sallie when she was a young woman, which I've posted below for you to compare. So I'm not sure who this third person is. I think she looks a lot like Ida, but then she looks maybe too old to be Ida. What do you think?
Mary Ann Waggoner, Clint Troutman, and Ida (?)

Here's the picture of Sallie Havens that her descendant sent me. Definitely not the same person pictured with Clint and Mary.
Sallie Havens

The mystery of old photos goes on.

(c) 2013 Z. T. Noble


  1. Mary had a nice expression in all but one of the pictures. She was ahead of her times!

  2. it's ida again in the last pic of 3. same face!

  3. Although the Psalmist said, "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more," the Bible is, perhaps, the very first family history written down. I think God wanted to share His Son's rich family history with us, just as you are sharing your family history within your blog.