Saturday, January 8, 2011

I am the Photographer!

How many times have you seen an old cabinet card with the photographer's name and address emblazoned across the bottom of the photograph?  If you are a family tree researcher, my guess is dozens of times.  I came across this photo not too long ago and added it to my collection.  It is part of an old Victorian photo album I acquired.  Originally I thought I was buying a 'complete' family photo album.  When I got the thing home, I realized what I had purchased was an album used by a collector of old photos to display his/her collection of photos.  In other words, the photographs were not placed their by the original owner of the album and the original context and relationship of the 20 or so photos have long been lost.

Even when historic context does not exist, individual photographs can still speak to us.  That's the case with the photo shown above.  It is a picture of an adult male, taken at (or maybe duplicated at) the photography shop of Howard Baker, 66 West Main Street, Battle Creek, Michigan.  It's not until you turn the photograph over that it becomes more interesting.  The caption states simply, "This is my husband, Howard Baker."
 So I thought to myself, why not try and hunt down Howard Baker and his wife.  The obvious place to start is Battle Creek, Michigan.  I started with the 1910 census to see how many people I might have to sort through.  As it turned out - I only had to 'sort' through one family!  The image below shows the only Howard Baker listed in the 1910 Battle Creek, Michigan census.  Both he and his wife are listed as photographers!  I wonder if J. Howard Baker's wife took this photograph?  They have a son named John H. Baker living in the household.  Howard Baker's wife appears to be named Mary L. or maybe Marg L. - I'm not really sure.

I also searched the 1900 census to see if the couple are listed in battle creek with a one year old son.  I found a listing for John Howard Baker with wife Mary Luella Baker and son John Howard Baker.  Howard Baker also has his single sister-in-law living in his household, Kate Anderson who is listed as a dress maker.  Maybe Mary Luella's maiden name is Anderson.

Since the 1900 hundred census asked how many years each individual had been married, and their answer was 11 years, Mary Luella would have been single in the 1880 census.  She should be approximately 14 years old at the time.  There is a very promising match.  I have the 1880 census four Henry Anderson and his wife Mary with a daughter name Luella (b. circa 1866) and a daughter named Kate (b. circa 1868) living in Calhoun County, Michigan.  It appears we have a match!

Going forward, I checked the 1920 census and find the household of J. Howard Baker.  Luella and his son are still living, and we now have a sister-in-law named Blanche McFarland living in the household.  She appears to be the right age to be Luella's sister Kate.

Looking at the marriage records of Calhoun County on the Family Search site, it is apparent that we do have a match, but Blanche's age should be 63 not 53 in the record above.  She would be an older sister of Luella.

See ... all of this came from just one little old photograph ...

No comments:

Post a Comment