Page twelve of the Minor Family Album holds a cabinet card addressed to my great-great-grandfather, Marion Minor (1828-1913). The paper photograph is mounted on a basic ivory-colored cardstock, the photographer’s information stamped at the bottom.
The woman’s face holds a gentle expression, her dark hair swept back to enhance her dark eyes. Her dress looks plain, as if she had but one good outfit to be worn on many occasions. She dressed it up by adding a white starched collar and a beautiful, in-laid broach at the neckline.
Is she friend or kin?
The mystery lady had her portrait taken by a now-forgotten photographer Howard in Nelson, Nebraska around 1883-1886, judging from from her hairstyle and clothing. Nelson was a town just a decade old, the county seat of agricultural Nuckolls County. Her two hundred and fifty inhabitants lived and worked in forty-five blocks of newly constructed buildings, hoping for the day the railroad would come through their town.
The Nebraska this woman looked upon was a rapidly growing state, its rolling hills and plains dotted with cattle and corn, and lined by the historic ruts of the Oregon Trail, the California Stagecoach Line, and the Pony Express. Railroads would soon cut through the waving fields, bringing passengers and goods, and exporting marketable farm products east.
Who was she? Friend? Kin? For now, she remains my mystery woman from Nebraska.
June 23, 2014 —–UPDATE through cousinly collaboration with Linda Bell——-
A close look at several Minor resources* located a cousin some fifteen years younger than Marion Minor. Andrew Jackson “Jack” Minor (1843-1911) was the son of Uncle Samuel and Aunt Elly Lowery Minor, the last of at least six children who were born to the couple while they lived in Greene County a few miles north of Marion and Mary Jane. In between 1855-1860, this branch of the Minor tree set off for Linn County, Iowa, for reasons unknown.
Jack served in the Pennsylvania cavalry from 1862-1865, and returned to Linn County. He married another Greene County native transplanted to the midwest in 1870. Nancy Rine (1849-193?) and husband Jack moved to Adair, Illinois by 1872 where they ran a store on the railroad with brother Will Minor. In the 1880s the family moved to…NEBRASKA!!!
Specifically, the family relocated to the town of Fairfield, Nebraska, just a short distance north of Nelson, where two children were born (1883 and 1885) before the family relocated TO NELSON where two more children were born (1887 and 1890). BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!
What if my Cornhusker woman is Nancy Rine Minor, wearing a slightly dated fashion for her portrait taken after moving to Nelson. What if? I await cousinly confirmation!
* including the Ancestry and the Thomas Minor Society databases, and a set of letters written by Samuel Minor to brother John P Minor in the early 1870s.