Category Archives: Lost Family Photos

A Christmas Gift

First of all Happy New Year! Tonight to celebrate, I decided to research a small Bible I had acquired and am ashamed to discover it has been 11 months since I have written… don’t know what I have been doing… well, yes, I do know. Living life but I have no idea where 2012 went and now we’re at 2013. My New Year’s resolution is to write at a minimum ONCE PER WEEK!  Okay, now on to my historical hunt and story for today.

With love from Mother

I love to purchase old items that I find with names in them. I enjoy researching the names and trying to discover who the previous owners were and to learn a small semblance of what their lives may have been like. After I’ve figure out a bit about their lives, I try to find current family members and work to reunited the items with the original owner’s family.


Tonight, to start off the new year, I researched the name of Miss Fannie I. Elliott, the name I found written in a small bible I discovered in a local antique store. On the facing page of the cover was the inscription, “Fannie I. Elliott A Christmas gift from her mother. Dec. 25th, 1884” I wanted to find out who Fannie I. Elliott and her mother were.

bibleThe book was with a batch of items that came from Ohio, so when I entered Fannie’s name into’s search engine, I felt pretty good when the name appeared in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio. I was even more convince I had the right person after checking and linking other possible connections and family trees.

New Beginnings

Fannie Idella Elliott was born on Feb. 21, 1866 in Cuyahoga County, Ohio to William George Elliott (Dec. 16, 1824 – Nov. 7, 1897) and Louisa Parfitt (May 5, 1825 – June 4, 1900). She was either the eighth or ninth child born to the couple, as she was a twin. Her sister was named Anna Luella. Her parents were both born in England. I discovered a christening record for her father for Jan. 2, 1825 in East Knoyle, Wiltshire, England naming him as the son of Jacob Elliot and Susanna and one for her mother, the daughter of James Parfitt and Mary, christened on 26 Jun 1825 in Bruton, Somerset, England.

Family genealogy trees located on the web all purported that Fannie’s parents were married in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio on Sept. 16, 1847, but while researching each of their 10 children, the oldest, Frank Riddle Elliot, is reported to have been born in England according to both his death certificate and christening registration, although the name on the christening registration lists his name as Riddle Frank Elliot, christened on Dec. 10, 1848 at Brewham, Somerset, England to William and Louisa. This could mean a couple of things… the family history trees have the marriage location wrong, the family traveled back to their home country and the babe was born in England while on the visit or Frank was born in England before they left but his parents weren’t married and they lied on the christening registration, and quite possibly, that could be why they left England.

William and Louisa, in addition to the twins and Frank (Nov. 6, 1848-Oct. 7, 1909), were the parents of James John Elliot (Jan. 18, 1850 – June 6, 1931), Sarah M. (1853-1932), Fred (1855-1930), Lettia Louisa (1858-1943), Thomas Henry (abt 1860 – ?), Gilbert Willson (July 5, 1863 – May 21, 1946) and Walter Edward (Sept. 1, 1868-Oct.1, 1951).


1860 federal census showing William Elliot and his family

On June 8, 1860, the census taker recorded William Elliot and his wife Louisa were living in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio with their children Frank, 11; James, 9; Sarah, 7; Fred, 5 and Lettie, 2. All the children, including Frank, were listed as being born in Ohio.


The 1870 census taken in Cuyahoga County, Ohio

The 1870 census shows the reality of the times of the building of America. Each family listed on the census form along with the Elliot family was an immigrant family, with every head of household affirming they were born in England, Germany or France. The ninth US census shows the family still living in Dover, Cuyahoga, Ohio but with additional children. Living in the home are William, 47 and his wife Louisa, 45; son Frank, 21, whose birth, along with his parents, are listed as in England, James, 19; Sarah, 17; Fred, 14; Lettie, 12; Henry, 9; Gilbert, 6; twins Anna and Fanny, 4 and one-year old Walter. William, as a farmer, was able to give his family a comfortable living as evidenced by the value of his real estate, $7,300 and his personal estate was valued at $1,00.

William Elliott and family in 1880 Federal Census Cuyahoga County, Ohio

William Elliott and family in 1880 Federal Census Cuyahoga County, Ohio

According to the 1880 US Federal Census, the Elliott family was living in North Olmsted, Cuyahoga, Ohio. William and Louisa are both 55 years of age and living at home were James J., 29; Thomas H. 19; Gilbert W. 16; Anna L. 14; Fannie I. 14 and Walter aged 11.

When Fannie was 18 she was given the bible, a copy of the New Testament published by the American Bible Society in 1872, on Dec. 25, 1884 according to the inscription written by her mother. I’m going to assume that since she was a twin, her mother Louisa, probably gave her sister Anne a bible as well. The bible’s pages are in remarkable condition, considering its 141 years, and unfortunately, I believe that’s from its lack of use.


A New Generation

By the time Christmas rolled around the following year, Fannie had become the bride of Walter R. Keyes (1864-Jan. 9, 1938) at the age of 19. They married on Dec. 24, 1885 in Rockport Township, Cuyahoga, Ohio. There is a notation on the marriage certificate that the consent can be found on doc. no. N, No. 1 file. Walter Keyes is the son of James H. Keyes from Gloucester, England and Martha J. Wilde of Scotland.

Marriage certificate for Fannie Elliott and Walter Keyes

Marriage certificate for Fannie Elliott and Walter Keyes

The young couple started their family with the birth of a daughter, Luella M. (1887-1947). A second daughter, Alta Keyes, was born on Aug. 12, 1888 in Rockport, Cuyahoga, Ohio and died before she was two. A son, Howard, was born on 1891, followed by Ada R. (1894-1936); Walter J. (1897-1980); Melvin (1900-1980) and baby Everest who was born in 1902 and died the following year.

1900UnitedStatesFederalCensusWalter was a hardware clerk in 1900 and the family lived in Rocky River, Cuyahoga. The 1900 federal census shows that Walter and Fannie had been married for 15 years and she was the mother of six children, with five of them living. The family had a 25-year old servant living with them named William E. Baker.

In 1910, the family is still living in Rocky River, Ohio next to Walter’s younger brother Edward and his family. Walter and Fannie were now 45 and 44 years of age respectively and had recorded on the census as having another child who had been born and died. Walter was listed as a hardware merchant, son Howard was a salesperson, working alongside his father and 16-year old daughter Ada/Ida was a bookkeeper for a local coal company.

Fannie and Walter Keyes in 1910

Fannie and Walter Keyes in 1910

Fannie and Walter were present at the weddings of their children, including Howard, who married Alma L. Mireau on June 3, 1912 and Ada, who became the bride of Arthur H. Hoag on Aug. 9, 1917.

The 1920 census shows the family living on Chapel Road in Madison Township, Lake County, Ohio. Only Walter, Fannie and their youngest son Walter, 21, are living in the home. In 1920, Walter has left the hardware business and lists his occupation as farmer and the son is a bank teller. The family is doing well and own their home free and clear.

Walter & Fannie living alone in 1930

Walter & Fannie living alone in 1930

The 1930 census shows that Walter and Fannie are in their mid-60s and are living alone back in Cuyahoga County. Walter is no longer working and they also own this home, located at 194 Loraine St., free and clear.

Although I have been able to locate the death certificate numbers for Fannie and Walter, I have been unable to find a copy of their actual certificates. Fannie I. Elliot Keyes died on July 5, 1932 at the age of 66. Walter passes a few years later on Jan. 9, 1938 at the age of 74. Fannie’s twin sister, Anna Luella married Bertrand H. Perrin and died on Oct. 16, 1938 in Geneva, Ashtabula, Ohio.

Death certificate of Anna Luella Elliott Perrin, twin sister of Fanny Idella Elliott Keyes.

Death certificate of Anna Luella Elliott Perrin, twin sister of Fanny Idella Elliott Keyes.


William Shew (1820-1903) – Photographer & Daguerreotype Innovator

W.P. & H. Wolfinger

I came across this picture of a pair of distinguished looking brothers named W.P & H. Wolfinger and wanted to research them to tell their story… but my ADHD kicked in and I was distracted by the photographer’s name on the back of the cabinet card instead… Wm Shew’s new Photographic Establishment, 115 Kearny Street, San Francisco. 

What caught my eye were the words Photographic Establishment. Normally, on cabinet cards, the photographer only has the word “photographer” after his name but William Shew went all out and that intrigued me. I had to know more about him.

I came across a blog by Michael Colbruno called Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Michael has researched William Shew since he is buried in Mountain View Cemetery. I’ve taken the liberty to add a few pictures and some additional information… It’s a great story and history lesson.

William Shew was born on a farm in Waterton, New York on March 1820. At the age of 20 he read an article by the inventor Samuel F.B. Morse about the daguerrotype process and, along with his three brothers, moved to New York City to study with Morse. His brothers Jacob, Myron and Trueman were also photographers, but not attained the stature of William Shew. Morse would become more famous as the inventor of the telegraph.

After completing his studies, Shew worked briefly in upstate New York before becoming the supervisor at John Plumbe’s gallery in Boston. Three years later he opened John Shew and Company in Boston, where he manufactured his own dyes and created daguerrotypes with wooden frames, thin vaneer backings and embossed paper coverings. In 1846, Shew married Elizabeth Marie Studley and had a daughter they named Theodora Alice, born in Feb. 1848. He also became and active member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.

William Shew’s passport application applied for on Jan. 27, 1851

In 1851, he sold his business and sailed on the steamer Tennessee to San Francisco, where he joined his brother Jacob who arrived in 1849. It is believed that Shew set up a gallery shortly after arriving in San Francisco, which may have been destroyed by the 1851 fire that swept the city. After the fire he set up “Shew’s Daguerreian Saloon.”

The wagon drew the attention of the neighboring Alta California newspaper, which wrote, “A good deal of curiosity has been expressed in regard to the object and intention of the big wagon which fills up a large portion of the plaza, and which was yesterday being covered with a frame. Some suppose that ‘the elephant’ which so many people come here to see was to be caged up in it and exhibited to greenhorns at a quarter a sight. . .It seems, however, that it is to be a traveling daguerreotype establishment, with which the proprietor intends to travel around the city and country, taking views and portraits.” 

That same year, John Wesly Jones hired Jacob and William Shew to take dagurrotypes for the California portion of his moving panorama “Great Pantoscope of California, the Rocky Mountains, Salt Lake City, Nebraska and Kansas.” In 1852 the brothers expanded the business, selling portraits and pictures of buildings, as well as daguerrotype materials.

During this period he continued his interest in the anti-slavery movement and is believed to have hosted the first Free-Soil convention held in San Francisco on October 8, 1852. His interest in politics expanded beyond slavery and Shew went on to serve on the San Francisco Board of Education and he hosted meetings of the Temperance Society at his office. He also became an active member of a number of photographic associations and societies.

By 1854, he was operating his business at the corner of Montgomery and Sacramento in San Francisco, later moving to a “fire-proof building” at Clay and Montgomery. His brother, who had been his shop supervisor, opening a competing business named Hamilton & Shew located directly across the street. William Shew expanded his business to include photographs and ambrotypes (positive photographic images printed on glass).

In 1864, he entered a competition at the Mechanics’ Institute Exhibition where he displayed pictures of Thomas Starr King, Edwin Sumner, Gen. John Sutter and Sam Houston. In 1878, his only daughter, Theodora “Dora” married Calvert Meade.

On Oct. 11, 1889, Shew’s wife of approximately 43 years died of typhoid fever along with his youngest grand daughter, Edith Dora Meade. In 1892, at the age of 72, Shew married his second wife Annie Katherine. She was 26.

By 1902, the octagenarian was still operating his studio. A year later he died and was buried at Mountain View Cemetery. His wife continued to operate his studio after his death. Tragically, most of his work was destroyed in the 1906 fire and earthquake. However, many of his works can still be found in history books and major collections, including at the Smithsonian Institution, California Historical Society, Bancroft Library in Berkeley and the Wells Fargo Bank Historical Room.

Little Mysterious Miss Beautiful

Winifred Florence Francis, June 1919

Whenever I come across antique pictures, the first thing I look for is a name on the back. I really feel bad when I find a picture that isn’t identified and I wonder who they were and if someone is missing them, but I feel even worse when I come across a photograph that is identified and isn’t with family. I wonder how anyone could give up such a family treasure.

I came across this beautiful postcard photograph sometime last year. The back of the card identifies the little miss as Winifred Florence Francis and she was 18 months old when the picture was taken in June 1919. That’s all it says but I want to know more. Did she have siblings? Did she grow up? Did she marry and have children? What did she do with her life.

To start this journey, I enter her name into Since the back of the photograph says she was 18 months old in June 1919, I deduce she was born about January 1918. The photograph is stamped Champaign, Illinois, so that is where I begin my search.

The first thing I find is tragedy has already impacted the life of my young friend. I find Miss Winifred Florence Francis in the 1920 U.S. Federal census living with her widowed father in Scott township in the county of Champaign, Ill. The census was taken on 12 January 1920 and reports young Winifred as 2 0/12, which means she is just 2-years-old and confirms my estimate of her birth being in January 1918. Her father Ben Francis is a 27-year-old farm laborer and raising the toddler by himself.

I wonder who her mother was and how did she die? Was it during little Winifred’s birth? Did she get to hug and kiss her baby girl? Did she pass during the first year of Winifred’s life? Did little Winifred know her mother’s touch and love? How did losing her mother at so young an age impact Winifred throughout her life?

I find Winifred and her father next in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census still living in the county of Champaign, Illinois but living this time in the town of Cunningham. There has been a change in the family’s status. Ben, 38,  is now married to 37-year-old Lessie and there are five children listed, including 12-year-old Winifred. Robert A is 10, Ben P. is eight, Franklin is 7-years-old and the youngest is Ruth at 4-years of age. Ben is listed as having first married at age 24 and Lessie at age 23, which confirms Ben is the proper age to be Winifred’s father but reveals there is a 2-year gap between Lessie being married and the birth of Winifred. This is further proof I believe that Lessie is not the natural mother of Winifred.

This is an interesting development, especially with Robert being 10-years-old. Did Ben and Lessie get married in 1920 and have Robert before the year was out or did Lessie come to the marriage with a child? To find the answers to these questions I’ll also have to research Lessie. It’s time to start at the beginning.

Bennett Porter Francis was born on January 4, 1893 in Monticello, Wayne, Kentucky to Joseph Nelson Francis and Sallie Marshall Rankin, the fourth of their nine sons. In 1900, he is listed on the U.S. Federal census living with his parents in Masonic Hall, Wayne, Kentucky. His father, Joseph, is shown to be 44-years-old, mother Sallie is 32. Older brothers Samuel L, Robert B and Joseph W are 14, 12, and 10 respectively. Younger siblings listed in 1900 include Clarence A., 4-years-old and Ellis C. is two. His parents have been married for 16 years at this point, making their wedding date occurring approximately in 1884. Joseph is a landowner and a farmer. His sons help out on the farm.

In 1910, the family is living in Elk Creek, Wayne, Kentucky. At this time, Joseph is a 54-year-old farmer and Sallie has added to their family. Oldest son Samuel L. has moved away from the home. Still at home are sons, Robert B. 22, Joseph H. 20, Bennett P. 17, Clarence A. 15 and Ellis C. 12. The youngest sons now include, Prince O. 9, Carson G. 4, and Cosby T. is two-months-old, having been born in February 1910.

Bennett Porter Francis WWI registration card

Sometime between 1910 and 1917, Ben moves from his family farm to Seymour, Illinois. A Ben Porter Francis is recorded as registering for the 1917-1918 draft for WWI in Seymour, Ill., during the first wave of registration, which took place on June 5, 1917. On his draft card he reports he is a farm laborer and works for Mr. R. Anderson in Seymour, Ill. He also claims he is married and has a wife to support and asks to be deferred from the draft selection based on that fact. Ben P. Porter is described as medium height, medium build with dark brown hair and eyes.

In 1920, Ben is listed as a widow and his family consists of his daughter, Winifred and himself.

In 1930 is where we find Ben married to Lessie with five children. Because I needed to figure out when they actually got married, I decide to locate Lessie with her family to see if she has been married before.

I have located her name as Lessie Leona Anderson on a family tree located at I use that information as a basis to try and track her family down in the 1920 federal census but I was thinking Anderson was her maiden name so I probably won’t find anything on her. But I did and this is where it gets interesting.

I locate Lessie, her father, Robert and her mother, Sallie on the same 1920 Census that I found Ben and Winifred. In fact, a key point that I previously missed, is they are living in the same household!

On the 1920 US Federal Census, Lessie is living with her parents, 53-year-old Robert M.,  and 45-year-old Alice L. Anderson on the family farm in Scott, Champaign, Ill. Lessie is 26-years-old and is identified also as a widow. But what is telling is she is still identified by her maiden name on the census and not her married name. She is also identified as a daughter and not as a daughter-in-law. Another key point is that Ben is also living in the same household along with 2-year-old Winifred.

Perhaps, Winifred was born out of wedlock. I suppose being thought of as widowed carried a lot less stigma at that time than having an illegitimate child. That also might explain why Robert A. (probably named after Lessie’s father) is 10-years-old on the 1930 census – they were already living together.

I have come across an entry on another family tree showing Ben P. Francis and Lessie Leona Anderson were married on May 31, 1917 in Danville, Vermillion County, Ill. There is something definitely mysterious about this family. If they were in fact married, as Ben reported on the 1917 draft registration card and as the marriage listing confirms, then why lie and be counted as a widow and widower  on the 1920 census?

I have also located in the Campaign County, Ill., post-1900 birth records ( C0unty Clerk vol. 9, Library vol. 38, page 529), an entry for Winifred Florence Francis born December 26, 1917 in Mahomet, Ill. It list her parents as Bennett P. Francis of Kentucky and Lessie Anderson of Virginia. The abstract doesn’t tell me if her parents were married at the time but it does appear that Lessie Anderson is, in fact, Winifred’s biological mother.

Five generations (L-R) Lessie Francis, Kenneth Francis, Sr. holding Kenny Francis, Jr., Ben P. Francis, Jr., and Alice Anderson

Her father, Ben Porter Francis died at age 78 in Wayne, Ky. on Feb. 19, 1971 and is buried at New Charity Baptist Cemetery in Wayne County. Also buried there next to Ben is mother, Lessie Leona Anderson (June 30, 1893-Jan. 20, 1972), uncles Joseph W. (Jun. 1, 1890 – Nov. 12, 1977), Cosby (Jul. 3, 1909 – Dec. 7, 1981) and Robert B. (Jan. 21, 1888 – May 27, 1967) Francis, paternal grandparents Joseph N. Francis (Oct. 3 1855-Dec. 24, 1936) and Sallie Rankin Francis (Jan. 3, 1866-May 26, 1949), maternal grandparents, Alice Luana (b. 1874 d. 1971) and Robert Mitchell Anderson (1867-1933).

Winifred Florence Francis went on to marry Clarence Eugene Moore (Jan. 20, 1902 – Oct. 11, 1960). I am unable to find a marriage record, as I am unsure of where they were married and unfortunately due to privacy, I can’t be ascertain as to how many children, if they did have any, they had. Clarence died in Plainfield, Waushara County, Wisconsin. What is certain, is Winifred Florence Francis Moore, the beautiful little girl in the picture, led a long life and passed away at age 86 on Aug. 21, 2004 in Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky.

FRIDAY’S FACES FROM THE PAST: Searching for a lost child

Cabinet death card of a young childI came across this beautiful cabinet card in a local antique shop and was drawn to it. The picture is of a beautiful child who apparently died at a young age and his parents had a mourning card made. I could make out a very faint name written on the back – Robert – and I wondered if this was young Robert with the adorable curl on top of his head. I felt compelled to take him home. He didn’t belong in a cold antique shop among hundreds of  nameless lost ancestors. I wanted to find out more about him.

Upon closer examination, I discovered a very, very faint last name… Horne. The front of the picture has the name Forney and Bedford, Iowa which told me that the photographer of the picture was Forney and the picture was taken in Bedford, Iowa so I started searching for a young Robert Horne who passed at approximately age 4 in Bedford, Iowa but nothing was popping up.Forney_RobertF_Closeup

I decided to try a different tactic and searched instead for the photographer of the picture. I figured if I locate him in Bedford, Iowa, I would have a time frame to help me search for young Robert.

I quickly found a Samuel Forney in Lenox, Iowa through the 1880 US Federal Census. He was 26 years old, single and his occupation was recorded as a photographer. Could this be the correct photographer?

I looked in subsequent censuses to see if his occupation continued to be listed as photographer – it was, which led me to believe I had the correct person. But after looking through various censuses, particularly the 1900 US Federal Census which listed a Samuel Forney and family, including a son named Robert, I developed another hypothesis – what if the name on the back was not Horne but Forney? Could this be a picture of Samuel’s son Robert Forney? Especially, since the picture of the mourning card shows the original cabinet card of the child alive was also taken by Forney.

Now the search was on and I felt sure this had to be Robert Forney. But after locating the family in the 1910 census I was more confused than sure of anything. The 1910 US Federal Census shows the family living in Abilene, Kansas and Robert was recorded as a very much alive 11 year-old and his birthplace was listed as Kansas.

That can’t be right – could it? The little boy in the mourning card picture was definitely not 11-years-old and if it was Robert and he lived to be at least 11, why was the picture of him as a much younger child? Surely with his father being a photographer, he’d have more updated pictures of him. And when did they go back to Iowa?

This was turning out to be a real mystery and felt I needed to start at the beginning to try find the answers!

Samuel Pierce Forney was born Nov 1854 in Ohio to John and Susannah Forney, who were both born in Pennsylvania. In 1860, Samuel was six and living with his parents and siblings, 14-year-old George, 9-year-old Frances and 3-year-old James in Tod, Ohio.

1880 found a single 26-year-old Samuel living and working as a photographer in Lenox, Iowa. In 1881, he married 26-year-old Amanda “Nellie” E. Lewis on July 2 in St. Joseph, Missouri. They started building their family right away with son Walter L. Forney born on March 15, 1882, daughter Bertha L Forney in Nov. 1884 and son Roy S. Forney in August 1885 with all the children being listed as born in Missouri.

There doesn’t seem to be a 1890 census of the family but I located them again in the 1895 Kansas State Census living in Abilene, Dickinson County, Kansas.  At this time, Samuel is listed as a 41-year-old photographer, Amanda 40, Walter 13, Bertha 11 and Roy is 9. All which confirmed I still had the correct family.

In 1900, the Forney family is recorded in the US Federal census still living in Abilene, Kansas  at 664 W. 5th Street but having added to their family, 3-year-old Edith born in Nov. 1896  and toddler Robert F. Forney, born February 21, 1899. Both Edith and Robert is shown to be born in Kansas. Walter is first shown as following in his father’s footsteps and works as a photographer in his father’s studio. An interesting find is that Amanda is listed as having birthed six children but with only five living in 1900.

1900 US Federal Census of Samuel Forney and family

Hummmm… six children but only five living and one of them is Robert. This is getting more and more interesting!

The family is again found in the 1905 Kansas State Census. Still living in Abilene, Kansas but this time without Bertha. In the home are parents Samuel and Amanda, and children Walter, who is now 21 and also a photographer, Roy 18, Edith 7 and Robert 6. Bertha would have been about 19-years-old so I wonder if perhaps she left due to marriage.

In 1910, the Federal Census shows the family still living in Abilene at 509 N. Spruce Street with 56-year-old Samuel, 55-year-old Amanda, 28-year-old Walter, 24-year-old Roy, 13-year-old Edith and 11-year-old Robert. Both Walter and Roy are listed as following in their father’s footsteps in the photography business. An interesting fact revealed on the 1910 census is that Amanda was the mother of six children but now only four were living.

So, perhaps Bertha didn’t leave for marriage but instead it looks like she passed away sometime between 1900 and 1910.

The 1915 Kansas State Census shows the family had moved to Fredonia, Kansas in the neighboring county of Wilson. Surprising, all the children still live at home. Samuel is now 61-years-old, Amanda is listed as 60, Walter is 33-years-old, 29-year-old Roy, 18-year-old Edith and Robert is still living at the age of 16. Although Walter is still helping his father as a photographer, Roy is no longer. His occupation is now recorded as a mechanic. Edith is in college and Robert is in school.

By 1920, the family dynamics have changed. Samuel and Amanda are still recorded as living in Fredonia, KS, but on the 1920 Federal Census, only Robert is left living at home. He is 20-years-old and is working as a mechanic in a garage. Samuel is still taking photographs and Amanda is a homemaker.

Sometime by 1925, Robert leaves the home. The 1925 Kansas State Census shows only Samuel and Amanda living at home in Fredonia with them being 71 and 70-years-old respectively.

The last census currently available to genealogists is the 1930 which reveals Samuel has passed on. Amanda is now listed as the head of household and a widow. Son, Walter, has moved back home at age 48. He apparently has taken over his father’s photography business.

According to Find-A-Grave, Amanda, Samuel, Walter and Robert are all buried in Fredonia City Cemetery, Fredonia, Kansas.  Samuel died in March 1928, Amanda in August 1935, Walter in May 1955 and Robert F. Forney passed away in July 1952.

It is apparent now, Robert is not the young man pictured on the mourning card.

My search on the family has given me a few possible explanations in solving this mystery.

One, and probably the least plausible, is Samuel used a picture of one of his children on a sample mourning card as a form of advertising for his photography business.

A second explanation might explain the large gap in years between the births of Roy and Edith.  It’s possible that Amanda had a little boy born between Roy’s birth in 1885 and Edith’s birth in 1896 and this picture is of that child. On the other hand, Roy was born in Missouri and Edith in Kansas. It doesn’t explain why Bedford, Iowa is listed on the mourning card as a location. But it could be explained if Samuel Forney simply had leftover pre-printed cabinet cards from his time in Bedford, Iowa to which he simply glue photos he had taken on to the front. I feel sure that scenario could be answered if the petals of the bottom white flower on the mourning card were not covering the bottom of the original card, allowing us to see where the original photo was taken.The answer could also lie with the 1890 Federal Census. Unfortunately, the records of Kansas and Iowa did not survive the fire which destroyed the majority of the 1890 Federal census records.

A third possible explanation might lie in the two-year gap between the births of Walter in March 1882 and Bertha in November 1884. Amanda could have borne another son during that time and the picture is of him. Perhaps after the birth of Walter, Samuel moved his family back to Iowa where he started his business and after the child died, they moved again back to Missouri.  But again, the child in the photograph appears to be approximately 4 years of age. If that is the case, they would have been living in Missouri as Bertha and Roy are recorded as being born there. So again, the use of left over pre-printed cabinet cards could be the answer.

My conclusion is the beautiful little boy who is so lovingly portrayed in the mourning picture is the child which Amanda lost. Whether he was born after Walter or Roy is undetermined at this time.

The name of Robert Forney written on the back of the mourning cabinet card is in pencil and unevenly scrawled.  Perhaps young Robert wrote his own name on the back of the card to show ownership of a picture of a brother he never knew but still loved.


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