Crazy Cat Lady?!?!?! Photo Identification and Do you include family pets in your genealogy?


I am the fourth generation to have lived in the Malden, Massachusetts home purchased 83 years ago  by my great-grandparents Charles “Garrie” Milton Hall and Georgianna “Georgie” (Hughes/Clough) Hall.  They purchased it 10 May 1930 from Carrie M. Hawkridge of Marblehead (taking out a $5,000 mortgage).

Middlesex South District Deeds – book 5460, page 321:

book 5460, page 321 Charles Milton Hall pg 1book 5460, page 321 Charles Milton Hall pg2

My childhood attic is chock full of treasures! Lots and lots of photos! 99% with no identification.  Except of course the pet photos, all of which are labelled.  This was exciting for my 12-year-old niece - who tells me that the only family genealogy that interests her is that of the family pets.  Charles Milton and Georgianna raised and raced greyhounds, their son Charles Jr. (my grandfather) took over the greyhound business and became a veterinarian - so we had lots of pets – hence my nickname of “Crazy Cat Lady” and mother to four very spoiled cats – it is genetic!  Here is one I have been unable to identify (hopefully her descendants will find her in this blog someday) :-)

cat cat2

The Halls lived on Dale Street in 1916.  There were 18 Stearns in Malden in 1910, 5 different families.  The closest is the family on Rockwell St. (.4 miles away) but the residents were 20+ years older than my ancestors.  I have two of Georgianna’s address books and there are no Stearns families in either. And who knows if this is a Malden cat! They could have been visiting relatives in Lowell, Oneida NY or traveling to race the greyhounds! Although my grandfather would have been about 12 and in school.  Since the photo was taken in mid-September (during the school year), perhaps it was in Malden – but, the photo was taken on a Sunday – perhaps on a weekend trip. Or perhaps this was my grandfather’s boyhood cat, the one who climbed the Christmas Tree a dozen times! See this blog post –  http://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/stranger-exchanger/

I digress. My mother, who still lives in the family homestead, found a family bible published in 1884; inside were seven small photos pasted into the “family portrait” section.  Who were these folks?  I decided to use some of the techniques I had heard of in various conferences, courses and blogs to surmise their identities.

Family Portrait Family Bible Family Bible2

The pages inside listed only 3 names:

Ephraim Augustus Hall, born December 28, 1852

Roxanna Aurelia Wilson, born October 12, 1859

Charles Milton Hall, born March 7, 1881

bible births2 bible births

I don’t recognize the handwriting – it’s not my mother’s, my grandmother Edith (Haines) Hall’s or my g-grandmother Georgianna’s.  I can only guess it probably is that of Roxanna Aurelia Wilson, Charles Milton’s mother.

The first three photos were taken by the same photographer. E. C. Swain of Malden Centre, Mass. Tattered and Lost’s blog tells what little is known of this photographer Edwin Chandler Swain (1835-1911): http://tatteredandlostphotographs.blogspot.com/2012/05/mystery-of-photographer-e-c-swain.html

back5 three Hall photos

I believe that there is a strong possibility that the man in the photo above is Ephraim Augustus and the boy, Charles Milton.  Since Ephraim had only one known wife, I am guessing that the woman pictured is Roxanna Aurelia Wilson.

The photo below is known to be Charles George Hall, center, Charles Milton Hall, right and Ephraim Augustus Hall, left  – do you agree that these are the same folks?:

5843096b-2eef-45eb-a1f6-d6f50d7eef48

Two other photos in the bible were also taken by Malden photographers:  C.O. Hodgman (woman pictured) and Wm. H. Cromack (man pictured).  I located a Charles O. Hodgman in A Directory of Massachusetts Photographers 1839-1900.  Charles was a photographer in Malden from 1878-1883.

back4two Hall photosback3

The remaining two bible photographs were taken in Boston: John Hofstrun (woman pictured), who was active in Boston from 1873-1876 per the Massachusetts Historical Society website and Chute, 12 Tremont (man pictured). A Directory of Massachusetts Photographers 1839-1900 lists a Robert J. Chute of 13 Tremont Row, Boston who was in the business 1860-1867.

back1  two Hall photos2 back2

While I can’t be 100% certain, it would seem to make sense that these are photos of Charles Milton’s 4 grandparents.

Top photo set:

(1) Horatio Hall – b. 18 Jun 1802 Norton, MA; d. 11 May 1884 Malden, MA

(2) Elizabeth (Pinder) Hall – b. 18 Jun 1810 Ipswich, MA; d. 22 Jul 1886 Malden, MA

Bottom photo set:

(3) David M. Wilson – b. 31 Jul 1824 Ireland; d. 31 Aug 1879 Boston, MA

(4) Elizabeth (Long) Wilson – b. 21 Mar 1823 Ireland; d. 25 Feb 1897 Malden, MA [lived in East Boston until her husband's death in 1879]

Although I haven’t found anything on photographer Wm. H. Cromack, the other three photographers were active during the lifetime of these folks at the time when they would have been the age they appeared in the photographs (if that makes sense).

Elizabeth (Pinder) Hall – photo by Charles O. Hodgman, a photographer from 1878-1883. Elizabeth would have been age 68-73.

David M. Wilson – photo by Robert J. Chute,  in the business 1860-1867. David arrived in Boston about 1852 and would have been 36-43 in this date range.

Elizabeth (Long) Wilson – photo by John Hofstrun, active from 1873-1876. Elizabeth would have been 50-53 years old.

Horatio Hall – photo by Wm. H. Cromack - process of elimination! I will say that this photo looks very similar to those on page 22 of the book, More Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929 published by Family Chronicle, Moorshead Magazines, Ltd. 2011 which are dated 1864, the year Horatio turned 61. There is a William H. Cromack in the Massachusetts census data – he seems to change careers frequently! Cabinet Maker, Jeweller, Constable, Painter…. I am guessing he’s our guy but have been unable to determine when/if he worked as a photographer!  Perhaps some searching in the Malden City Directories the next time I visit Boston!

Wiiliam censuses

What do you think? Am I right?  This one seems like a no brainer, but I have been mistaken before when I jumped to conclusions too quickly.

And yes, for those who might be wondering, my cats are included in my Ancestry.com tree :-)

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