Learning Powerpoint wasn't easy but I did get the slide show done in time for my husband and I to drive out to northwestern Illinois the day before the presentation. I was excited to get out to Sharon's, not because of the presentation the next day, but because Sharon had a boat load of family pictures we have been planning to look through and identify.
We banished the husbands to the kitchen.When we got to her house, Sharon had the dining room table all ready for our project. We started right in. We compared pictures; looked at foreheads, ears, eyebrows, mouths, eyes, mustaches, beards, necks... clothes, sleeves, collars, lapels. We check the Photo Detective Maureen Taylor's book for clues of time periods through clothing.
"These are the same eyes."
"Look at his forehead. I think we have the same person."
"No. No. His ears are too flat compared to this guy's."
"Check out this hairdo, it sure looks the same as that lady with the round glasses."
Those were some of the things heard by Bob and Gil out in the kitchen. Occasionally they tried to crash our photo party, but we turned them away like we would have if we were young girls being bothered by "the boys!"
Well, long around 11:30 we decided to call it quits. We did identify quite a few, but not as many as we would have liked. Some were easy because I've seen many of them in my cache of photos. There is a particular look our ancestors had that was easy to say "That's a Porteous!" "That's a Rouse!" – but the question always came about "Which one?" Most were set aside, unidentified waiting for next time. We can anticipate more discoveries as our research progresses, and more people in those other photos will get names.
We must have looked at a hundred pictures – none labeled but one!It was astonishing to find one image had a note on the back explaining who the people were! We couldn't see any faces of the people in the picture, so we were lucky having the note.
"Vera is holding the horse Dean is in the saddle Florence stands by me the thing standing in front of vera is our dog we have killed the little one that stands between vera and the horse the other dog that stands under the horse belongs to Fred Hepp. The boy that done the shooting."
We checked our family tree programs and can verify these are Porteous people because of their names: "me" is Jesse with daughters Vera and Florence, and son Dean (George). I think the "little one" is a calf, but could be another dog. Hard to tell even when we scanned the image at high resolution. What is that big mound in back of them and where were they?
I believe that mound is grain of some sort possibly wheat. Looks like they are in a state with big wide open spaces. Sharon and I knew Jesse was "of California" around 1925 when his father John died from John's death notice in Garfield, Kansas newspaper.
Was this picture taken in California? How did we figure out they were somewhere else and approximate the year? Here's how we thought this out:
Dean is in the saddle - he is the youngest of the three children as we can see by the sizes of the three. Dean was born 1908. From the looks of him, he probably was about six or seven years old. Vera is five years older than Dean, makes her about 12. Florence was two years older than Dean which would make her about 9 or 10. I think the size of the kids in the picture coincides with the ages they look like in the picture.
Surprising, this picture helped me identify one I had no clue as to who they were. Now I know! Great Aunt Mabel is included in this picture below. Yippee!
Now that we have established the ages we were satisfied we had the right family. This is my great uncle Jesse James and great aunt Mabel (Hubbard) Porteous' family.
So where was this picture taken?Well, Sharon remembered she had a postcard from Jesse to his father on his birthday. It is postmarked Park City, Montana July 17 1916. Park City is in a valley about 25 miles west of Billings. The postcard was wishing "Father" (John) a happy birthday. Jesse mentioned Charlie (older son) "has gone to the mountains to fish been gone 9 days, every thing looks good around here but some of the wheat is only half crop."
Maybe that isn't a grain mound but an earth formation that's covered with grass since the wheat was "half crop." Or, if that is a "half crop" mound of grain, what would the full crop look like? I can only imagine.
What have we concluded?The postcard dated 1916... Dean would have been 8, Florence 11, Vera 13...! I think it is safe to say Montana is where they took this picture. I have not found the family in any census in Montana. They were there in-between the federal census. I haven't looked yet for state census. That is another journey.
Jesse and family were in McHenry County, Illinois for the 1920 census. Maybe the wheat crop failed and they had to come back home.
Thanks Sharon for an enjoyable evening of looking at noses, ears, eyes...