Friday’s Faces from the Past – The Mysterious Family from Olney

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This is another of those mysterious family photos that makes me feel guilty remembering all my own unlabeled pictures. Obtained from Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house while packing things up, the family is most likely one of our Montgomery connections – but which one?

Again one of the major clues is the name and location of the photography studio.  Olney, Illinois, home of the M. B. Rush studio, has any number of Montgomery and Walker connections, with even more when all of Richland County is considered.  The family members themselves also provide clues – is there a family consisting of two sons and then two daughters with approximately the right age differences between them?

One possibility is the family of my great-grand-aunt, Hattie F. (Montgomery) West. The oldest child of John and Belinda (Simmons) Montgomery, she was born November 28, 1859 in Ohio; from at least 1870 until her death, Hattie resided in Denver Township, Richland County, Illinois. Hattie married Martin V. West in a double-wedding with her brother Charles William (my great-grandfather) and Laura Maud Walker.  The ceremony took place February 22, 1883. Ten months later Hattie and Martin’s first child, Wilmer Madison West, was born. In 1885, son Harley R. West followed. Around 1887-1888, daughter Stella West was born, followed by Bessie in 1891-1892.  Edna Bertha West was not born until August 23, 1897. A photograph taken of the West family when baby Bessie was about two years old might look similar to this one. Around 1894, Wilmer would have been 10, Harley 9, Stella 7, and Bessie 2. Of course, there’s also the possibility this could be some other family entirely!

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