Category Archives: Friday’s Faces From the Past

Friday’s Faces from the Past – Lyle

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Several posts here have focused on my great-grandfather, Charles William Montgomery. This photograph depicts Charles and his second wife, Lyle, whom he married less than a year before his death. Family records I had seen early in my genealogical adventures referred to her as “Mrs. Lyle” – since then I have seen letters written to Grandpa by the newly-married couple from “Your father and Lyle,” and Charles’s death certificate lists his widow’s name as “Lyle Montgomery.” It would therefore seem Lyle was actually her first name, though the Baby Name Voyager indicates that at no time was Lyle in the top 1000 female names. I have a couple of letters Lyle wrote to my grandfather following Charles’s death, but after 1942 no record of her remains. This leaves a lot of unknowns – was she a widow when she married Charles at about age 55, or was this her first marriage?  Did she marry again after Charles’s death?  And when and where did she die?

Friday’s Faces from the Past – Rita Blanche Walker

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In Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house there were two photographs that fascinated me from an early age and sparked my interest in family history. One was the family portrait of grandma’s mother Sophie with her parents and siblings. The one posted here was the other. I was intrigued by the perfectly smooth ringlets and the giant hair bow – no one in 1986 could get away with looking like that.

Grandma told me a little more about the photo, and I memorized every detail – the photo shows Grandma’s first cousin, Rita Blanche Walker, when she was twelve years old. I later pieced together more of Rita’s history – she was the daughter of Ross and Carolyne Blanch (Wilson) Walker and was born, according to the 1920 census, between 1912 and 1913 in Minnesota. Carolyne’s brother was Carl Ozro Wilson, Grandma’s father. In that census and in 1930, Rita and her parents were living in Grass Range, Montana; by 1930 Rita’s younger sister Jessie M., born about 1920, had joined the family. By 1940 Carolyne was recently widowed and now living in Polson, Montana, with both Rita and Jessie still at home.  Jessie, 19, is listed as a grocery sales clerk, and Rita, 27, as an English teacher earning $1200 yearly. She had completed three years of college.

Ross and Carolyne’s grave appears on the Find-a-Grave website, listed in Polson’s Lakeview Cemetery.  Rita’s history after 1940, however, remains a mystery. As for her photo, as well as that of Grandma’s mother and family? Both are safely here with me.

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Friday’s Faces From the Past – Monticello, Illinois Kin

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This week’s mystery family appears in a photograph taken at the Brady and Medaris studio in Monticello, Illinois. I have no record of any genealogical events taking place in Monticello itself, but many family members did live in Piatt County, of which Monticello is the county seat.

Could this be Minnie (Walker) Bateman, discussed in my last post, with her husband Joshua and children Lora, Roy, and Tessie? In about 1895 Lora would have been 8, Roy 6, and Tessie 4; youngest child Elsie would not yet have been born.  Minnie would have been about 30 and Joshua 34.

Any other candidates?

Friday’s Faces from the Past – Who Is That Girl? And Which Uncle Is That?

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Today’s “Friday’s Faces from the Past” may actually be a solvable mystery. Again this one comes from the Montgomery side of the family, from Grandpa and Grandma’s photos. I am pretty sure the baby is one of my uncles – does anyone know for sure?  As for the girl holding him, I don’t know, but again I suspect the answers may be within reach since this image is from a much less distant past. So, familial readers – chime in!

Friday’s Faces from the Past – From Our Nation’s Capital

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This week’s unknown photo comes from the Rice photography studio in Washington, DC and again was found in Grandpa and Grandma Montgomery’s house. The only Washington connection of which I am aware is great-aunt Bessie (Montgomery) Boyland. The third of Grandpa Montgomery’s sisters, she was born December 20, 1886 in Mansfield, Illinois, and married Francis Marion Boyland between 1906-1907. Their daughter Helen was born the following year.

In 1910 Francis, Bessie, and Helen were in Grover, Colorado. By 1920 Bessie had moved to Washington, DC and was working as a clerk for the Treasury Department. Bessie is listed as a “boarder” and is living alone (where were Francis and Helen?). By 1930 she had moved to Los Angeles and was living at the Commodore Hotel and working as an auditor. But the question remains – is this Bessie, or another as-yet-unknown connection to our nation’s capital?

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!

Friday’s Faces From the Past – Champaign, Illinois

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This photo is one of many I acquired when I helped empty out Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house after Aunt Laura moved into her own place in 1998.  Luckily a lot of the photos had penciled names on the back and could be identified, but there are still some that remain mysteries.

There are a few clues that can be gleaned from the photo – the most obvious, of course, being the photographer’s studio name and location.  George Gamble, photographer, appears in the 1900 census in Champaign, Illinois.  Born in March 1845 in Ohio, he appears to have opened his studio in Champaign between 1880 and 1900; in the 1880 census he still appears in Center, Indiana, not having moved yet to Champaign.

There are any number of potential Montgomery candidates for the couple in the photo, as evidenced by the number of genealogical connections for Champaign and Champaign County (and nearby locations) detailed on my genealogy data site.  Perhaps someone will recognize these “faces from the past” yet!