Sometime between 1888 and 1890, my great-grandfather, Robert Minor, strolled into the photographic studio of Thomas W. Rogers (Carmichaels, PA) and struck a pose. He wore a well-ironed wool suit, the jacket buttoned so high that the full Windsor knot is all one sees of his dapper tie. His eyes belie the confident stance–Robert is on the cusp of adulthood, almost ready to marry, almost ready to manage the family farm. Almost.
Little wonder that his mother, Mary Jane Minor, included this moment in time within the pages of the Minor Family Album.
The fifth page frames a young couple’s portrait, carefully staged to tell the story of a momentous autumn day. Robert Minor had just taken May Stevenson’s hand in marriage.
The twenty-three year old groom was dressed in well-tailored pin-striped pants worn with a frock coat and matching waist coat–a fashion which would indicate that the Thursday wedding was held during the day. His bride, seventeen year old May Stevenson, wore an exquisite gown with lace at the throat, on the bodice, and at the cuffs. The hat, no doubt designed and made by her milliner mother, Mary Jones Stevenson, was trimmed in the this same lace and finished with feathers. September 8, 1892 was a grand day for these families.
The Presbyterian minister, T. G. Bristow, conducted the service in Carmichaels, Greene County, Pennsylvania. After Robert and May exchanged their vows, and the LARGE families of both bride and groom mingled in congratulations, the newlyweds stopped by the Public Square studio of T. W. Rogers and had their picture taken. Robert stared a bit like a deer caught in a lantern’s light, perhaps rocked by the realization that the circuit of ice cream socials and steamboat shows had come to an end. A soft smile tugged at May’s face, however. The young lady had survived the arduous years following her father’s death and secured her future with this prosperous young man. Together the youngsters would join in the family business–raising cattle and children to carry on the Minor legacy on Ceylon Road, Garard’s Fort, Pennsylvania.
People may call me a hoarder, a sentimentalist, a pack rat. But I prefer to think of myself as a Keeper of the Lore, continuing the work of my brilliant ancestors who kept receipts, photographs, letters, cards, documents, books, and negatives.
YES, NEGATIVES ARE A POSITIVE
Today, I felt like fossicking through my closet family archives, and was rewarded with the discovery of 1950s negatives, treasured by father. Let me demonstrate why a negative is worth a thousand words.
Scan the negative, like it was a photo (jpeg) file, and then use your scanner to modify the file before saving it to your computer.
Find the tab for adjusting the color of the photo/negative, and INVERT the color.
Like magic, an image has appeared without chemicals or dark room!! Save this jpeg file to your computer, and you can spiff it up with a bit of photo editing. I prefer to use the online service, PicMonkey.com. Ultimately, I end my morning with this great shot:
Sure, I don’t know this particular dude, but I do know that he was important to my father. Even the tiniest peek into his past gives me a shiver of connection.
Bedie Harrington Vannoy was the daughter of Sarah Minor Harrington McClure. Born in Greene County, Pennsylvania around 1880, Beatrice “Bedie” married John Vannoy in the early part of the 20th century and moved with him to Iowa, where he was a minister. Bedie kept close touch with her family back home, writing frequently, particularly to Donald Minor, her cousin, born in 1902.
As she had children, Bedie would write postcards to Donald and her grandfather, Francis Marion, who lived with Donald and his parents, Robert and May Minor. This photograph was one such card, and reads:
“Dear Grandpa, We are all well and enjoying a cool wave very much for it has been so awfle (sic) dry and hot here. This is our new baby. He has no name yet but weighs 16 lbs. He is awfle (sic) good and we think him fine. Janet and Ivon have grown so much this summer. I hope you are well and enjoying life every day. I often think of you. Lovingly your Granddaughter Bedie
If you are a descendant of John and Bedie Vannoy and would like copies of the family portraits within my family archives, please contact me!
In 1911, Donald Minor’s cousin, Bedie Harrington Vannoy, had her third child out in Iowa. The little boy was eventually named Paul, and returned with siblings Ivan and Janet to visit their grandmother, Sarah Minor Harrington McClure, and their great-grandpa, Francis Marion Minor, with whom Donald lived while his father convalesced from migraines in health resorts like the Markleton Sanitorium.
The Tama, Iowa photographer, C. W. Wright, printed the photograph of this six-year-old on postcard stock, and the note accompanied other mail delivered to Ceylon Lane, Garard’s Fort, Pennsylvania.