Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Orphan Photos #32 & #33

I have quite a few in my batch of photos from this same photographer.  I’m posting these two together because it seems like they are of the same person.  What’s even more interesting is that these photographs were taken by a female photographer in the late 1800s.

Before I get into the subjects of the photos, I want to take a quick jaunt about the photographer.  The imprint on these cabinet cards reads:

Mrs. Reed
Branch House
LaGrange, Mo.
Quincy, Ill

Mrs. Reed was Candace McCORMICK Reed, who was born in 1818 in Tennessee.  She married Warren Reed in 1842.  Her and her husband relocated to Quincy, Illinois, where they opened a photography studio.  Mrs. Reed died in 1900.  More information about Mrs. Reed, along with additional photos can be found on the website Early Illinois Women:  Photographs by Candace McCormick Reed (1818-1900).

What also struck me as odd was the fact that there were two locations noted in the imprint.  Looking at the map, I see that LaGrange, Missouri and Quincy, Illinois are fairly close to one another, each resting along the Mississippi River in their respective states.

Image obtained from Google Maps

Fortunately, there is some identifying information on these photographs, which also led me to believe the gentleman in each photo was the same person.

On the back of the photograph of the couple, it says:

With best wishes of
Sister Martha


Mr. & Mrs.
A. L. Towles
LaGrange M

The back of the other photograph simply states:  Uncle Alfred Towels.

Upon first glance, I actually thought the photographs were taken at the same time.  However, upon closer inspection, two things stood out.  First, the man is were a different jacket; in one photo it's double-buttoned, in the other, single-buttoned.  And second, the imprint is slightly different, suggesting a different time period of when the photo was taken.  But the man certainly looks to be the same man in both photos, and it is fair to assume that “A.L. Towles” is “Alfred Towles.”

Next it was off to see if I could find this gentleman records to help me identify possible descendants who may want these photographs.  At first this was a little tricky because I was not sure which state to look in since both Missouri and Illinois are on the photograph imprint.  Fortunately, there weren’t many Alfred Towles to choose from, and two just happened to be in LaGrange, Missouri.

In the 1880 census, I find an Alfred and Jane Towles living in LaGrange, Lewis, Missouri, with their children, one of whom is Alfred, born about 1850 in Missouri.  Guessing that the photograph of the couple was taken in about 1890 (there is that date written on it, as well as the time period of the photographer), the couple look like they could be about 40-years old.

I move on to the 1900 census, and find an Alfred L and Florence M Towles living in Houston, Harris, Texas.  Alfred’s birth month and year are indicated as August 1846 and the census notes he was born in Missouri.  There is no indication as to how long they’ve been married.  So this is a likely suspect, but I need more information.

I try to find a marriage record, with the available online resources (heck I can hardly afford to rent FHL films for my own families, let alone orphans!!).  I came up empty.

So I take a quick peek at the public family trees on Ancestry.  I find a few possible matches, but one seems to be the most accurate, showing Alfred Lewis Towles born in Missouri and residing and dying in Texas.  My hunch may be correct then.  However, the marriage date for Alfred and Florence was “about 1898,” which could be off based on the date of the photograph, or perhaps he was married before (it looks as if Florence had been married before, given there are two daughters listed with a different surname in the 1900 census and the notation for one of them is “step daughter”).  Also worth noting is that this tree listed his residence from 1870 to 1910, but does not list his parents or children.  That being the case, I’m thinking that this may be collateral relatives and want to find someone more direct to give these photos to.

At any rate, I move on to other records.  Over the weekend, I was doing some work on my own collateral folks who eventually ended up in Texas, about the same time period.  Knowing that Family Search has death records for Texas, I headed on over in hopes of finding something.  And I did.  Not only did I find a death certificate for his death in 1915, but it tied him to the person found earlier in Missouri.  It lists his parents as Alfred and Jane Towles, his birth place as Marshall, Missouri (which is located in Saline County, where I find the family in 1850), and that he is to be buried in LaGrange, Missouri.  BINGO!

My next step is to try and locate someone that wants these photographs.  I’m going to try someone with a private Ancestry tree, who seems to have a more complete picture of this family than anyone else I can find (it’s hard to know for sure when the tree is private, but there are many Towles in the tree and it’s even name Towles).  I will certainly post an update if I’m able to reunite these photos with family.



That redheaded one

I grew up near Quincy and if you do not find their family I would suggest contacting

Quincy IL and Hannibal MO are two very close large cities in a large area of rural towns and Adams Co historical society has the ability to track in all of the neighboring counties near there. So if on any of this photographer's work if you can't find the information on the people in question please check with them. They can also be contacted at the number on that website.

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