Spring is here, I just have to be willing to look in odd places, willing to see the promise of unlikely signs. Click on the image to open in a full-size carousel, from which you can browse each photograph. Enjoy!
The tooled leather volume resembles a family bible, ornamented by the addition of a bronze latch. The heavy cardstock pages are cut out in the middle allowing for two cabinet cards to be displayed, back to back. A thick gold line frames each photograph. Buckled into the Minor Album are twenty-eight portraits taken between 1860-1900.
JUST WHAT DO I HAVE HERE?
THIS is the title page. Gorgeous!! Right?
MEH. I want story. Story comes from details.
Let’s start with the known. The album was recovered by my mother from the attic of the farmhouse in which she grew up. In which her father grew up. In which her grandfather and his father grew up. From the attic of the Minor Home Farm on Ceylon Lane, purchased by John Pearson Minor circa 1830. Just who, then, might have purchased the album and slipped the cabinet cards into place?
She did it.
My mother’s father’s grandmother, Mary Jane Gwynne Minor.
Women of the Victorian era were associated with the collection of family memorabilia and its display; photograph albums were part of this creative work. Mary Jane was the woman of Ceylon Lane, the mom of the Minor Home Farm, during the period that this album was filled.
This hypothesis has been strengthened by my work comparing other labeled photographs in my collection with those that I am finding inside the album. I have identified several images as members of the Mary Jane and Francis Marion Minor Family.
My sleuthing adventures begin with this hypothesis–the cabinet cards of the Minor Family Album belonged to Mary Jane and Marion Minor, and represent members of their immediate and extended family.
Next post– Mr. Chin Whiskers is revealed.
Click on the image to enlarge in “black box” mode.
One hundred and twenty-four years ago Oliver E. Aultman welcomed a well dressed woman and her family to his newly opened third floor gallery in the West Building, the “finest (photography studio) of its size west of Chicago” according to the local papers. Trinidad, Colorado was a booming town in 1890, supporting the surrounding mining communities and business ventures. This family arrived in their finest clothes, the father and eldest son dressed in matching plaid three-piece suits, their patterned silk ties neatly knotted at their throats. The younger boy, not old enough for his own suit, wore his best pleated wool coat, with a complimentary bow tie. The two girls wore matching dresses, with ruffled shoulders and loose fitting bodices. The mother wore a dark dress, with a pleated bodice and ruffled shoulders, decorated with elaborate applique and a small locket. Her hair was swept back in a low bun, with short bangs and a bit of curl.
Oliver Aultman composed several shots of the family; the adults were placed in separate poses empty of props or backdrops, and the children were grouped on some bales of hay, casually placed in front of a subtle bamboo-patterned panel. After the shoot, the young photographer and the parents discussed the viewing of proofs; the glass negatives were placed in envelopes and labeled S.A. Stephens in pencil. Sometime later the final portraits were selected, copies made and distributed to friends and family, including the family of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Gwynn Minor, of Garards Fort, Pennsylvania. Who was S. A. Stephens? Is that the name of the father? Of the mother, the well dressed woman? Or is it the name of the person who contracted for the sitting? And how is S. A. Stephens and the well dressed family related to the Minors of Ceylon Lane, Garards Fort, Pennsylvania??
Accepting all hints and recommendations for further investigation!! Stay tuned…
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