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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Who Are You? I Thought I Knew . . .



Unknown Boys, 1892. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.

This post was composed for the 9th Edition of Smile For The Camera ~ A Carnival of Images

. . . but now I am stumped. The photo above was one of many in The Box - a large plastic container filled with family items after cleaning out my mother's house in New York back in 2006. On the back is the date 1892 written in pencil on the top. The studio is The World Portrait Studio at 272 Bowery (Manhattan), New York.

The photo is one of many which are unlabeled and while others in a similar state have been solved in terms of identifying subjects and dates, this one remains confounding.  I have my suspicions but I need to mention three other photos which I feel might be related to the one I am calling Unknown Boys.



Elizabeth McGinnis, abt. 1906. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.

Above is a great photo, although its mounting is in poor condition and is one of my top priority conservation projects. It is of Elizabeth Veronica McGinnis, my great grand aunt. She was born about 1889 and died January 23, 1956 in New York City. I love the "Gibson Girl" look and I am assuming that this may have been her high school graduation photo which would date it to around 1906 or 1907.



John McCrickert and Elizabeth McGinnis, abt. 1906-1908. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.

Next, above is another photo which is unidentified but I am positive that it too is of Elizabeth McGinnis with her soon-to-be husband John McCrickert. John was born August 11, 1887 and died December 11, 1955, both in New York City. While I do not have a marriage date, I am dating this photograph around the same time as the portrait of Elizabeth McGinnis or within two years, 1906 - 1908.



John, Maragaret and Edward McCrickert, abt. 1895. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2008.

One photo that is positively identified is the one above. It is of John, Margaret and Edward McCrickert and was taken at the Silkworth Studio in Brooklyn, New York. John was born in 1887, Edward in 1888 and Margaret about 1893, all in New York. Judging from the photo, I place Margaret's age at about two years, dating the photo around 1895. This makes John age eight and Edward age seven based on the estimated date.

So with these three identifiable photos, I thought that the two boys in the first photo might just be John and Edward McCrickert. But to my eye there is not much resemblance between these two unidentified boys and the ones with Margaret McCrickert. I did further research in my database and I thought it might be the brothers of my great-grandfather John Ralph Austin (1896 - 1976). The evidence does not support such a theory since John's oldest brother Maurice Ira Austin was not born until 1890 which would make him two years old in the photo. In addition, the Austin family lived in Lowville, New York near Watertown and would not arrive in New York City until around 1903.

I have no other possible listings in my genealogy database which might help identify these two boys. Another theory is that the photo is misdated in having 1892 written on the back. To my eye, they look older than John and Edward McCrickert in the photo dated 1895. If the unknown photo is mislabeled, it could very well be Maurice Ira and Harry Dence Austin.

So I will work on resolving the mystery of the unknown boys. While not having information placed on the photos frustrates me, I'd much rather have that than what has happened to many of the photos in The Box: in my great-grandmother Therese (McGinnis) Austin's later years, she insisted on circling the heads of photo subjects and writing their names in ink.

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