Monday, November 16, 2015

Mystery Monday: Are You My (Great-Great Grand) Mother?

Do you remember that children’s book, Are You My Mother? A little birdie hatches from his shell while his mother is away and he goes on a quest to find her, asking each animal (and machine!) he passes if they are his mama. It’s cute, and, of course, it has a happy ending. Well, as I think about my quest to get each of my family lines back to 1870, and as I thought about a good Mystery Monday topic, this book popped into my mind; I’ve got a mystery for which I’m hoping there will be a happy ending. You see, we have this postcard…

When my maternal great-grandmother Katherine passed away in New York, her son, my grandfather, cleaned out her apartment. He brought back to DC at least two things: a small green tacklebox, which he gave to my mother (his oldest daughter) and a small suitcase, which he gave to his oldest son. In the tacklebox were a bunch of papers and a small stack of photos. Most of the items seem to be from or related to my great-grandmother’s life and possible relatives, the Kilsons, in Salem, NJ. But among them was the postcard above, with this written on the back:

We know that according to multiple records Katherine’s mother was named Rose Anne (or Rose Anna or Roseanne or Rosa Anne) Allen.

We’re thinking that “Eleanor” is Eleanor Kilson, one of 4 children born to Bertha (née Allen) and Waymon Kilson in New Jersey. (By the time Katherine passed in 1971, Eleanor had already been gone for 3 years, which may explain why Katherine had some of her things, especially since photos suggest Katherine and Eleanor were close.)

However, it’s possible that the Eleanor referred to here is Eleanor Petite (née Allen), another possible relative, and the one into whose home Katherine moved in Washington, DC around 1918. The question of the connection between these three women – Bertha (Allen) Kilson, Eleanor (Allen) Petite, and Rose Anne (Allen) Kilson – was the subject of a previous Mystery Monday.

In any case, today’s Mystery Monday question is, “Is the picture on this postcard actually our Rose? Is this my Great-Great Grandma?”

To have an image of a family member who was born in the early 1880s – to know for a fact that this was a woman from whom I was descended - would blow my mind.

I think I’m going to have to channel Maureen Taylor, ThePhoto Detective, to see if – at the very least – the clothing and hairstyle are from about the right time period to be Rose, and if the paper and info about the photographer or printer put us in the right period as well.

In the meantime, what do you think? Is there anything else we should look at about this postcard to make an educated guess about the timeframe in which it was taken? Do you have clues about these women and how they might be related?

Share your thoughts below!

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