Friday, August 16, 2013

Sepia Saturday, 190; 2013 August 17th: Hats and Graduation for Keyes, Butler, and Johnson Families of Wheeler County




The prompt for this Sepia Saturday has a summer picnic feel to it, so Sepians might home in of teapots, primus stove, Chicken, a blanket on the grass, shy girls, or straw hats. 

 A memory of a photo of young girls in straw hats sent me delving into my files of photographs.  Sure enough, there they were --  sometimes shy or best friends forever or a bit flirty, saucy, and a tad mysterious.



1904 Graduation Photos, Walden School,
Richmond, Wheeler County, Oregon
I found the above set of photos, loose, in an old discarded album, while I was perusing family history with a niece  or cousin of some degree of these young ladies.  On the top row, the two girls are cousins, Echo Keyes, on the left, and Floy Johnson(on the right).  Echo is graduating from "grade school" and Floy,  a year or so older.  Floy's name was Florence, but at that time of her life everyone called her "Floy."  Their mothers,respectively, Sarah Ellen Brown Keyes and Mary E. (Molly) Brown Johnson, were sisters to my great grandmother Agnes Aurelia Brown Keyes.

Now my favorite part of this set of photos has the girls showing off their summer hats.  When there is a threesome,   Echo Keyes, always on the left,  and Floy on the right;  the young girl in the middle is Echo's older sister, Beth. The girls looked like they were having so much fun showing off the hats; the first frame, a bit coquettishe, the second frame is my favorite because I can imagine them sharing some secret, the third frame is "oh, so serious" young ladies, and the last frame again shows the cousins and friends for life, Echo and Floy - and their new hats.

NOTE: I believe that I have the names right, but if any family member has more information or confirmation, please contact me.
1904 Echo's graduation from Grade School
Echo Keyes on far left.
The above photo was taken at the same time as the first set of photos and establishes the date and event.  The end of the school year and graduation was ample reason to bring in the photographer to etch this time for posterity.

Echo, seated second from the left, was fourteen at this graduation from grade school, which probably meant from the eighth grade. Wheeler County's now nearly deserted town of Richmond, schooled all of the grade school children around Richmond.  The family names of the students included names rich in my family history; Brown, Butler, Donnelly,  Johnson, Keyes.


Yet, another photo of  the  graduates. This time, it's a family picture.  Echo Keyes is again on the far right of the back row; next to her is her cousin Pansy  Butler; next, her older sister Beth Keyes and on the left, Floy Johnson. The front row gentlemen are Echo's cousin Sam Butler, and brothers, Ray and Phil Keyes.  According to one of the family history keepers, not all of these young people went to Waldon.  Sam and Pansy Butler attended high school in Fossil, Oregon, which was 40 to 50 miles to the north.  Floy's family lived near Canyon City and she most likely went to school in Canyon City or John Day.  One thing is for sure, wherever they went to school, the young people were all dressed up for this set of graduation pictures.

I have always been curious about who was the photographer; a family member?  or perhaps an photographer from Fossil or Canyon City?  There were several other photos which had this same sort of "tacked-up" back drop and it seems likely that those photos were taken at the same time.  Whatever the manner, this graduation time of 1904 was well photographed in the rolling hills around the eastern Oregon settlements of Mitchell and Richmond -- at least for the Keyes, Johnson, and Butler families.

spring 1904, after graduation
back row, l to r: Echo Keyes, Pansy Butler, Beth Keyes, & Floy Johnson
front row, l to r: Sam Butler, Ray Keyes & Phil Keyes


The next  two photographs are of my grandmother, Agnes Laura Keyes, at the time of her graduation from high school in the Willamette Valley. She was sister to Echo, Beth, Ray and Phil of the previous photos, and of course, cousin to Pansy and Floy.

A teacher who boarded with the Keyes family convinced Agnes'  father to send her to school in the Willamette Valley.  When my grandmother would tell me about going to school in the "Valley," I never thought to ask her the name of the school.  Of course, I was only eleven when she died-- and it never occurred to me that she wouldn't always be there.

Although the Willamette Valley towns of Salem and Corvallis had more educational opportunities, both were still very provincial. Nevertheless, those few years at a "big city" school  were very important to Grandmother Agnes Laura. In later years, she would often read to me from her school elocution book and found a rapt listener to her theatrical readings.  I am sure that my mother did a few eye rolls as she was sure that I did not need any further encouragement towards drama and make-believe. Grandmother kept her elocution  book tucked safely away in the glass-fronted bookcase until she died.  I do wish I had that elocution book now.


Agnes Laura Keyes,  circa 1898
 after graduation in Salem, Oregon
Agnes Laura Keyes,  circa 1898
 after graduation in Salem, Oregon

The last two photographs are of our common ancestor -- our matriarch Sarah Almira (Duty) Brown.  She was grandmother to all of the graduates shown on this post, and my great-great grandmother.  She and her husband Jonathan Perry Brown followed the Oregon Trail to The Dalles in 1854, which meant that she walked most of the nearly two thousand miles from their home in Missouri to The Dalles in the Oregon country.   She was just twenty years old when she left Missouri, and had two daughters, Clementine and baby Elizabeth.  She couldn't read nor write when she made the trek west.  However over the years, with her husband's bible in hand, she taught herself to read and write. Quite a role model  for those fresh-faced graduates.


Sarah Almira (Duty) Brown
circa 1880, Wheeler County
"Grandma Brown", Aug 30, 1912
aka, Sarah Almira (Duty) Brown
at the Richmond home of her daughter,
Jessie (Brown) Butler

~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


Hmmm, this post morphed from pretty girls and summer hats, to graduations, to a role model.  Well, go ahead and toodle on over to Sepia Saturday and see how their week's fare morphed

38 comments:

  1. Joan -- This series of "Graduation" photos from 1904 is most intriguing. The first set of 8 images is a direct contact print from a glass plate negative. It's a little difficult to tell without knowing the size of the print, but my guess is that it was taken with a large format camera on a tripod, with either a moving lens at the front or a moving plate arrangement at the back, to take several exposures on a single plate. I would have thought it was done by a professional photographer.

    The second photograph is a formal portrait almost certainly taken in a studio setting, judging by the painted backdrop used. The print, again contact, has been left untrimmed.

    The third has been mounted on standard card (again the size of print and card would be useful) although the edges of the rudimentary backdrop are clearly visible. This size is typical of those produced by roll film cameras, but my guess is that it, too, was made with the glass plate equipment.

    Perhaps these were by someone who was learning the trade, or by an amateur who had access to the equipment.

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    1. Brett, thank you so much for your very thoughtful and insightful response. In the future it sounds as though with would be a good idea to include the actual size of the photos, right?

      You have given me some new ways to look at this series of pictures (of which the graduation photos were just a small part. I have perhaps a hundred photos that I rescued from the trash pile -- lots of tintypes, cards, postcards. They all are related to thefamilies in the graduation photos. Several photographers also show up often. If New Zealand wasn't so far, I would end up on your doorstep with bags of photos in hand --- I now know there are far more tools in photo research than I have used. Thanks

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    2. Joan - Well, there's a limit to what you can include, still get your post published in time for Sepia Saturday, and not risk boring the rest of your readers with "superfluous detail," but it always helps to have full scans (i.e. including the borders/mounts) and dimensions. I'm discovering new ways to look at photos all the time, and learning how much there is to be deduced which may not always be immediately apparent. I get so much satisfaction out of delving into the minutiae of these photographs. Isn't it fun?

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  2. There's nothing wrong with morphing - it makes for an interesting read. I enjoyed all the photographs too. The Spring 1904 shot seems to have the sitters having been told to all look in different directions; it's crying out for speech bubbles! Some of them certainly look as though they wished they weren't there.

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    1. I have always liked the "Spring 1904" family pic. I am wondering if they had to hog tie Ray and Phil to get them into suits. On the other hand, a Brown cousin of sorts, once told me that she thought that "Ray looked just like a movie star." Even so, the guys definitely didn't appear to be having as good of a time as the girls. Thanks for reading.

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  3. A perfect example of a Sepia Saturday theme leading to a fascinating exploration of some fine old photographs.

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    1. Alan, it is surprising how Sepia Saturday starts one way and ends another. A weekly surprise. Glad you enjoyed the photos and morphing theme.

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  4. You are so fortunate to have these images from your own family tree.

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    1. So true. And with the help of this group, I am finding much more to the photos than I ever believed possible.

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  5. What a great set of photos. Are you sure of the ages. They look like very mature 14 year olds. Lovely keepsakes.

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    1. Liz, Glad you enjoyed this set of photos. I am sure about the age of Echo, as it was definitely her graduation. Her siblings and cousins were two to four years older than her. But I think you are right, 14 year olds in that time and place were much more mature. It would not be all that unusual for a 14 year old to be married. I like the way that each photo is not only a keepsake, but also adds a bit to how I perceive and know more about these people of my past.

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  6. I especially like the first group of 8 photos of different poses.

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    1. And to think that set was a trashbag away from being lost forever. I am glad that you enjoyed those happy young girls.

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  7. The facial expressions are so much fun. They really add some interest to the photos don't they!?
    I agree with Little Nell - speech bubble definitely required :)

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  8. That first set of photos reminds me of the modern day photo both were you get four photos!
    Jackie
    Scrapbangwallop

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    1. The set does have that feel. I was thankful for Brett's comments about how the set was made. Interesting.

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  9. A wonderful set of photographs. I especially liked the first one. I cannot think in Britain women had a graduation ceremony like that in 1904.

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    1. Eastern Oregon was a far piece from anyplace, so any excuse for a party, photographs, brought family from all around. Also, in that community around Mitchell and Richmond there was a definite Tennessee southern-genteel influence. Hence, some very interesting photos. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

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  10. A wonderful collection of photos.

    I also like the first set of photos best. A different era but very happy and carefree.

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    1. Very different era! That set of cousins were friends for life -- and now a hundred years later we have the opportunity to have a front row seat to that show of friendship and family.

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  11. How sweet they all are, springs to mind for me.

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    1. Hey, that is the word! Sweet. I have been struggling for the "right" word to describe that series of photos without being over the top, or sacchrine. Yes, just sweet. Thanks.

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  12. That was most interesting. I had thought that making a fuss about graduation was a relatively modern phenomena so it was lovely to see these early graduation photos.

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    1. If one lived in Wheeler county in eastern Oregon during the turn of the century, it didn't take much of a reason to have a party and make a "fuss" --- and invite all the relatives. Such uncomplicated days, those were.

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  13. What fun graduation photos. Now I'm rethinking some of my old photos -- they might be graduation photos too.

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    1. Wendy, the pictures of my grandmother's graduation, hung around in an unidentified pile for quite some time before I put all the pieces together to figure out it was her graduation photograph. Too bad I just dinna ask her when I was eleven. Surprisingly, my mom dinna know that they photos were of her mother's graduation. Lesson: always tag your photos.

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  14. My favorite is the Spring, 1904 shot, I think -- and Ray is certainly a handsome one, isn't he?

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    1. Yes, indeed. Ray has a cousin who still thinks he looks like a movie star. And that picture is sooo unstaged. Love it.

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  15. Joan, first time on your site! Thanks for sharing your distant relations with us - distant in time, not in history. I think the names Echo and Floy are lovely. And remember the old Slim and Slam song, "Flat Foot Floogie (With the Floy Floy)"? Immediately came to mind.

    So glad to see some informal poses in there, as they were hard to do. Candids, next to impossible when one had to hold the pose for at least a full minute in those days... Thanks for commenting at my blog, too! Amy

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    1. I had almost forgotten that old song --- my mom used to sing it when I was growing up. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  16. I love that first grouping of shots. Quite fun to see them in so many quick poses. But my favorite is the spring 1904. The shot between shots. The shot when they perhaps didn't expect to hear the shutter open and close. Wonderful!

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    1. It is a great shot. And I don;t know of another photo of that group later in life, so it's even more special.

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  17. Love how your post evolved.
    I've been guilty of such myself.
    Well done!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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    1. Thank you and glad you enjoyed the evolution. I quite often start out in one direction and end up someplace quite different.

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  18. Delightful collection of photos. Echo is certainly an unusual name that I have not seen used before.

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    1. The women of that family did like different names, Echo, Ingaby, Aureulia, Mariah, Clementine, Evangeline, But those were interspersed with a goodly number of Elizabeths, Janes, Sarahs, Anns. Makes name tracing rather fun.

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    2. Imagine my surprise stumbling onto these pictures of my very own Great Grandmother, Echo. My son is making a genealogy poster for a class assignment so we were looking for info on our ancestors. Echo does not seem like such an unusual name to me but then my mother and I share the name. MaryEcho is my mother and I am Laree Echo. I had planned to continue the tradition but God had other plans and gave me two wonderful boys instead. Thank you for sharing these wonderful photographs.

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