The Adventures Of A Photo Sleuth: The Minor Family Album

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Minor Photo Album Latch

The leather is cracking, and the gold flecking off of its pages. The images inside are time capsules.  Staring at their faces I search for some resemblance that reappears in my mother or my brothers or me or my children.  Someone on Ceylon Lane, Post Office Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, bought this richly tooled leather album in the late 1800s.  Its heavy card stock pages were cut precisely to hold 4½ by 6½ cabinet card photographs. She–and I only say she because it is this she who constructs family albums today–she did not do me the favor of identifying these people.  I just have clues in the photographers’ names and studio locations.  Hairstyles and jewelry, the cut of a bodice, the width of a lapel, all hint at a timeframe.  Then, like a sleuthhound, I pick up the scent, looking through all the shoots and roots and leaves of my family tree.  Because I do believe that these men, women and children are my family.

For the next little while I will be writing about my discoveries: the mysteries solved, the wild goose chases, and the tips and tricks collected along the way. Join me as I unlock the secrets of the Minor Family Album.

1.  Provenance

2. Page One: Mr. Chin Whiskers

3. Mr. Chin Whiskers, continued

4. Pages two, three and four

5. Page five: The marriage of Robert and May

6. Crossing Paths With More Strangers

7. Windows to My Past

8. Women Folk I Know

9. Taylor is the New Greene

10. For Marion

11. On Court Avenue

12. Resembling the Past

13. Grand Uncle Posed For His Portrait

14. Dashing Great-grandfather, Robert Minor

15.  Unknown Woman in Day Cap

16. Trio Incognito

17. Photo As Fashion Plate

18. The Final Pages, here, here, and here.

19. The One I Know

20. Concluding the Adventure

Leading Me On

This gate set out to conspire with the sun this morning, I swear, leading me on to believe that a warm front had moved in overnight.  Just beyond the shadows spring melt was sweetening the air.   Liar.  Fooler.  Twenty degrees still leaves my cheeks cold and my hands numb.  And the snow banks still smell like winter.

This gate set out to conspire with the sun this morning, I swear, leading me on to believe that a warm front had moved in overnight. “Just beyond the shadows, spring melt is sweetening the air!”  Liar. Fooler. Even sun kissed, twenty degree air leaves my cheeks cold, my hands numb. And the snow banks still smell like winter.

sun kissed

Let It Go…Away

Winter, your beautiful crystals have been appreciated in all their varied shapes.  It is time to just let. it. go.  The cold.  It DOES bother me, anyway.

Winter, your beautiful crystals have been appreciated in all their varied shapes. It is time to just let. it. go.

Amanuensis Monday: We Are Off To The Races

The branch of the Minor family from which I spring left New Jersey in the late 1790s and settled along Big Whitely Creek, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Abia and Margaret (Pearson) did not homestead in isolation, and may well have lived within the fortified structures that uncles John and William Minor had built in the area.  By 1803, Abia and Margaret aspired to their own farm along the waters of Big Whitely, and on 2 February Uncle William Minor and his wife, Hannah, conveyed title to 150 acres of  “Race Ground”, for the sum of $1,700 “of lawful money of the United States”.  The oak studded hills had been conveyed or patented to William from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1789.  In 1803 the creek-side land  became the childhood home of my patriarch–John Pearson (Pierson) Minor.

Map_Greene Township_Greene County_Pennsylvania. Caldwell Atlas. 1876. edited.zip

You can read the text of the deed below:

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Robert Minor of Greene County, Pennsylvania

On this anniversary of Robert Minor’s death, I am seeking cousin-ly review.  Robert is shown here in front of his home on Ceylon Lane.  With confidence I can identify his wife, May, and his two children, Helen and Donald.  But who are the rest of the folks?  What say you, descendants of John P. and Isabella Minor?

Minor Family Group Shot circa 1915. Back row (l-r): unknown, Robert Minor, May Minor, unknown. Middle: unknown. Front row: Helen Minor, Donald Minor, unknown, unknown.

Minor Family Group Shot circa 1915. Back row (l-r): unknown, Robert Minor, May Minor, unknown. Middle: unknown. Front row: Helen Minor, Donald Minor, unknown, unknown.

Snow Game

For reasons that defy human comprehension, my dog adores snow in the face.  Here he waits patiently for me to put the camera away, and pick up the shovel stashed nearby.  The crazy boy will hold the pose while I scoop a mound of flakes, then hurl himself into the freshly tossed crystals, fur flying behind his air-borne torso.

For reasons that defy human comprehension, my dog adores snow in the face. Here he waits patiently for me to put the camera away, and pick up the shovel stashed nearby. The crazy boy will hold the pose while I scoop a mound of flakes, then hurl himself into the freshly tossed crystals, fur flying behind his air-borne torso.