Family Tree Photo Mystery Challenge Accepted! Help Us Identify These Old Pictures

Family Tree Photo Mystery Challenge Accepted! Help Us Identify These Old Pictures

A contributor sent us five photos found together at an antiques store, along with a photo mystery challenge to identify the people in the pictures. We're up to the task! Can you help?

Family Tree Magazine’s friend and contributor Sunny Morton sent us several photos she found at an antiques store in Northeastern Ohio, along with a challenge: “There’s enough to possibly identify the family: Names, a place, and even a cousin relationship clue. Can you do it?”

And we said:


via GIPHY

Let’s see how well we’ve absorbed the lessons of Photo Detective blogger Maureen A. Taylor.

We’d love your input on this photo mystery challenge! Comment on this post with your thoughts, post to your own blog, or feel free to email us. Here are the five photos, front and back, and our starting thoughts.

 

Mystery Photo No. 1

Photo Mystery Challenge Bernie Lang

This baby appears to be 12 months or so. The photographer’s imprint is for the J.E. Gearing studio in Covert, Mich. Handwriting on the back says “Bernie Lang.” The mat is 6.5 x 4.25-inch white cardstock with a decorative edge.

 

Mystery Photo No. 2

mystery photo challenge beatrice lang

This 3.375 x 5.375-inch real-photo postcard is labeled “Beatrice Lang 3 rs old” on the back. The handwriting looks similar to photo No. 1.

 

Mystery Photo No. 3

mystery photo challenge

This is also a real-photo-postcard measuring 3.375 x 5.375-inches. The child shown on the front looks to be 2 or 3 years old. The back reads “Compliments of Little Beatrice to Cousin Bernice. Please answer at once all are well Eetta[?]”

 

Mystery Photo No. 4

mystery photo challenge

This 4 x 6-inch unmounted paper print is labeled “Beatrice Lang” and “Henry Burg” on the back, in what looks like different handwriting. We’d estimate this young woman to be in her late teens. Her short hair and open neckline are similar to fashions we’ve seen in photos from the 1920s.

 

Mystery Photo No. 5

mystery photo challenge lenna lang

This photo has “Lenna Lang” written on the back (in what looks like the same handwriting as on photo Nos. 1 and 2) . It’s mounted on textured brown cardstock (the scan of the back of the card is closest to the actual color), measuring 3 x 4.25 inches. This young woman might be in her late teens or early 20s. Because of the high neckline and hair pulled back with a big bow, we think this picture dates earlier than photo No. 4 above.

 

It’s a Photo Mystery Challenge!

What do you think of our estimated ages? What and dates would you give these photos?

photo mystery challenge: all images

From the photos and captions, I think we have three people in these pictures:

  • Beatrice Lang: photos 2 and 4
  • Bernice Lang: (photo 1 for sure, and photo 3 sure does look like the same child as photo 1—but why would Bernice be receiving a photo of herself from her cousin?)
  • Lenna Lang: photo 5

Apparently Bernice and Beatrice are cousins, but how are they related to Lenna? Who is this Henry?

Let’s see what we can figure out about this family!

Get clues for researching unidentified photos and solving family photo mysteries with the Family Photo Detective guidebook by Maureen A. Taylor.

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  1. A marriage for Beatrice, stating her birthplace as Covert, matching the photo studio location:

    Name Walter George Mcdonald
    Birth Date 1908
    Birthplace Thorse, Mi
    Age 29
    Spouse’s Name Beatrice Charles Lang
    Spouse’s Birth Date 1911
    Spouse’s Birthplace Covert, Mi
    Spouse’s Age 26
    Event Date 03 May 1937
    Event Place St Ignace, Mi
    Father’s Name William Mcdonald
    Mother’s Name Elizabeth Webber
    Spouse’s Father’s Name William Edward Lang
    Spouse’s Mother’s Name Minnie E Bing

  2. Bernice Lang – from Covert in 1900 census:

    Bernice J Lang
    United States Census, 1900
    Name Bernice J Lang
    Event Type Census
    Event Year 1900
    Event Place Covert township, Van Buren, Michigan, United States
    Gender Female
    Age 6
    Marital Status Single
    Race White
    Race (Original) W
    Relationship to Head of Household Stepdaughter
    Relationship to Head of Household (Original) S Daughter
    Birth Date Jul 1894
    Birthplace Michigan
    Father’s Birthplace Michigan
    Mother’s Birthplace Michigan

    and mother is Ella

    Thomas J Morgan Head M 29 Michigan
    Ella M Morgan Wife F 38 Michigan
    Bernice J Lang Stepdaughter F 6 Michigan
    Alfred E Buchanan Stepson M 20 Michigan

  3. And Bernice’s marriage –

    Bernice Lang
    mentioned in the record of Virgil Sink and Bernice Lang
    Name Virgil Sink
    Age (Expanded) 21 years
    Birth Year 1890
    Birthplace Ohio
    Spouse’s Name Bernice Lang
    Spouse’s Age (Expanded) 18 years
    Spouse’s Birth Year 1893
    Spouse’s Birthplace Michigan
    Event Date 01 Oct 1911
    Event Place Covert, Van Buren, Michigan
    Father’s Name Nelson Sink
    Mother’s Name Laura Musgrave
    Spouse’s Father’s Name Jos. Lang
    Spouse’s Mother’s Name Ella Teachout

  4. You have 3 pictures of Beatrice and one of Bernice.
    Photo 1 – Bernice Lang. It says “Bernice” on the back, not “Bernie.”
    Photo 2 – Beatrice Lang.
    Photo 3 – Beatrice Lang. Sent to cousin Bernice Lang. Written by Beatrice’s mother, most likely. Her name is written “Etta” not “Eetta.” That is just a fancy E.
    Photo 4 – Beatrice Lang. Henry was probably the owner of the picture, maybe a boyfriend.
    Photo 5 – Agree that looks like Lenna Lang, but it could be Luna or even Laura. This writer’s R’s are hard to distinguish from N’s. The same writer wrote #1, #2 and #5 – The writer is most likely the mother of Bernice (who might be Lenna herself).

  5. Bernice and husband Virgil are living in Coloma, Berrien, Mi in the 1930 census with son Burson A. Sink.

    Burson A Sink married Agnes Rutz in Stevensville, Berrien, MI on 22 Oct 1939.

    Burson Alfred Sink is on findagrave.com memorial 144604943 buried at Lincoln Charter Cemetery in Stevensville, Berrien, MI with wife Agnes. He is on the Florida Death Index as born 12 May 1912 in Covert, MI, died 21 Feb 1994 in Fruitland Park, Lake, FL..

    Virgil Sink is on findagrave.com #125085601. Born 2 Apr 1890 in OH, d. 17 Aug 1958. in St. Joseph, Berrien, MI. Burial in Covert Cemetery, Covert, MI.

  6. Beatrice Charles Lang married (2nd marriage) on 13 Jan 1935 in Newberry, Luce, Mi to George William Cook. All family info on that marriage record matches previous records.

    Beatrice Lang McDonald died in Ohio. Death Certificate #98563. States born 25 Jun 1910 in MI, died 11 Dec 1997 in long term care facility in Kirtland, Lake, OH. Last residence was Willoughby, Lake, OH. States father is Lang, mother is Burg which is consistent with previous records. Divorced. She is on findagrave memorial # 113357716 burial at Western Reserve Memorial Gardens in Chesterland, OH.

  7. Bernice was the daughter of Joseph M. Lang, born in Covert, Van Buren, Michigan in 1867, son of Michael Lang (died 1895 in Covert according to probate records) and Barbara —-

    Marriage license No. 243, dated Sep 1888 for Joseph Lang (age 21) and Ella Teachout (25), both of Covert.

    Joseph died at age 29 in a fire aboard the steamer City of Kalamazoo, dockside in South Haven, Van Buren County. Newspaper account says he left behind a widow and one child.

  8. Lenna Lang is the daughter of Andrew M. Lang and Laura B. Richter. Andrew is another son of Michael Lang and Barbara Hoos. (Brother of Joseph Lang, who is Bernice’s father.)

    This is fun!

  9. Lenna Lang
    Born about 1893 in Michigan
    Father: Andrew M. Lang
    Mother: Laura Belle Righter
    Home in 1910: Covert, VanBuren, Michigan
    Marriage: 4 Aug 1915 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
    Spouse: Neil Leggett
    1920 census
    Neil and Leyna Letter
    Lorina Leggett, age 1
    Home: Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Death of Neil Liggett
    Date of Death: 21 Nov 1921 in Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Death age: 31
    Marriage of Lennah Marie Liggett
    Date: 7 Mar 1931 in Kalamazoo, Michigan
    Spouse: John Ray Freeland
    Divorce of Lenna Freeland
    Date: 13 Jan 1934 in Kalamazoo, Michigan

  10. To add to Bernice’s History
    1920 US Census
    Virgle Sink, 29
    Bernice Sink, 26
    Burson A Sink, 7
    Home in 1920: Coloma, Berrien, Michigan

    1930 US Census
    Virgil Sink, 40
    Bernice J Sink 35
    Burson A Sink, 17
    Home in 1930: Coloma, Berrien, Michigan

    Death of Virgil Sink, Michigan Death Records
    Birth: 2 Apr 1890
    Death: 17 Aug 1958 in St. Joseph, Berrien, Michigan
    Death Age: 68

  11. And finally, Beatrice Lang is the daughter of William E. Lang and Minnie E. Burg. William is another son of Michael Lang and Barbara Hoos.

    The girls are all first cousins, daughters of 3 Lang brothers.

    Great fun! Henry Burg is related to Minnie, obviously … I have to get supper going, or I’d start hunting. He should be easy to find, too, like the others.

    I love the old newspaper articles that bring these families to life. Poor Joseph (Bernice’s father). The death records say he was a fireman. I guess that was his job on the ship. Beatrice’s mother sued for $20,000 damages after her husband’s death. I haven’t had time to hunt for the outcome of the lawsuit.

  12. Not sure why my comment is not showing up, but you have 3 pictures of Beatrice and 1 of Bernice. The same writer wrote #1, #2 and #5 – The writer is most likely the mother of Bernice (possibly Lenna herself).

  13. Lenna Lang b. 1893 Michigan to Andrew Lang and Laura Righter
    Bernice Lang b. 1894 Michigan to Joseph Lang and Ella Teachout
    Beatrice Lang b. 1910 Michigan to William Lang and Minnie Burg
    Joseph (b. 1866), Andrew (b. 1869), and William (b. 1880) were brothers and sons of John Michael Lang and Barbara Hoos.
    That makes Lenna, Bernice, and Beatrice all first cousins.
    Henry Burg was Beatrice’s maternal grandfather (Minnie’s father).

  14. I love this challenge! My hobby is buying old photos such as these, using my genealogical subscriptions to identify the people and their descendants and sending the photographs to one of those descendants as a gift – a gift not only to them but to my spirit as well. Win-win!!

    This is what I discovered about the Lang/Burg mystery:

    The fathers of Lenna (born abt 1893), Bernice (born abt 1894) and Beatrice (born abt 1909) are brothers (Andrew, Joseph and William, respectively).

    Beatrice’s mother was Minnie E. Burg; Minnie’s father was Henry Burg.

    Photo 1 is known as a cabinet card while photos 2 and 3 are post card photos. I would think Bernice’s parents most likely purchased the studio cabinet card; perhaps Beatrice’s parents purchased the post cards and gifted Bernice with hers…shrug! Beatrice’s mother’s middle name began with the letter E, maybe for Etta??

    Or…????

  15. Question: Apparently Bernice and Beatrice are cousins, but how are they related to Lenna? Who is this Henry?

    This is my theory on the pictures.

    It appears that Lenne, Bernice and Beatrice are cousins, daughters of three brothers.

    Lenne is the daughter of Andrew Lang and Laura Richter.
    Bernice is the daughter of Joseph Lang and Ella (possibly Etta/Ella on the picture)
    Beatrice is the daughter of William Lang and Minnie Burg. Henry Burg is Minnie’s father as shown on her marriage record.

    Andrew, William and Joseph are all sons of Michael Lang and Barbara Hood/Hang/Has.

    Lenne/Lenna

    1900 United States Federal Census
    Name: Lenne M Lang
    [Lennie M Lang]
    Age: 7
    Birth Date: Jan 1893
    Birthplace: Michigan
    Home in 1900: Covert, Van Buren, Michigan
    Sheet Number: 1
    Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation: 15
    Family Number: 13
    Race: White
    Gender: Female
    Relation to Head of House: Daughter
    Marital Status: Single
    Father’s name: Andrew M Lang
    Father’s Birthplace: Michigan
    Mother’s name: Laura B Lang
    Mother’s Birthplace: Michigan
    Can Read: Yes
    Can Write: Yes
    Can Speak English: Yes
    Neighbors: View others on page
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Andrew M Lang 31
    Laura B Lang 32
    Lenne M Lang 7

    Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952
    Name: Andrew Lany
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Birth Year: abt 1869
    Birth Place: Millbury, Michigan
    Marriage Date: 22 Mar 1892
    Marriage Place: Hartford Mich, Van Buren, Michigan, USA
    Age: 23
    Residence Place: Covert, Michigan
    Father: Michael Lany
    Mother: Barbara Hong
    Spouse: Laura Righter
    Record Number: 1246
    Film: 47
    Film Description: 1892 Manistee – 1892 Washtenaw

    Bernice

    Her father Joseph died in 1897 and her mother remarried in 1899.

    1900 United States Federal Census
    Name: Bernice J Lang
    [Bennie J Lang]
    Age: 5
    Birth Date: Jul 1894
    Birthplace: Michigan
    Home in 1900: Covert, Van Buren, Michigan
    Sheet Number: 12
    Number of Dwelling in Order of Visitation: 5
    Family Number: 277
    Race: White
    Gender: Female
    Relation to Head of House: Step Daughter
    Marital Status: Single
    Father’s Birthplace: Michigan
    Mother’s name: Ella M Morgan
    Mother’s Birthplace: Michigan
    Neighbors: View others on page
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Thomas J Morgan 29
    Ella M Morgan 37
    Bernice J Lang 5
    Alfred E Buchanan 19
    Lucius L Judson 74
    Albert Smith 17

    Michigan, County Marriage Records, 1822-1940
    Name: Bernice Lang
    Gender: Female
    Age: 18
    Birth Date: abt 1893
    Marriage Date: 1 Oct 1911
    Marriage Place: Covert, Van Buren, Michigan, USA
    Father: Joseph Lang
    Mother: Ella Lang
    Spouse: Virgil Sink
    Film Number: 001019199

    Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950
    Name: Joseph Lang
    Gender: Male
    Marital Status: Married
    Birth Date: 1867
    Birth Place: Bainbridge, Michigan
    Death Date: 30 Nov 1897
    Death Place: South Haven, Van Buren, Michigan, USA
    Death Age: 30
    File Number: 3174
    Father: Michael Lang
    Mother: Barbara Lang

    Beatrice

    Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952
    Name: William E Lang
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Birth Year: abt 1880
    Birth Place: Michigan
    Marriage Date: 4 Dec 1901
    Marriage Place: Keeler, Van Buren, Michigan, USA
    Age: 21
    Residence Place: Covert, Michigan
    Father: Michael Lang
    Mother: Barabra Has (might be Hood)
    Spouse: Minnie E Burg
    Record Number: 4022
    Film: 73
    Film Description: 1901 Tuscola – 1902 Branch

    Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952
    Name: Minnie E Burg
    Gender: Female
    Race: White
    Birth Year: abt 1878
    Birth Place: Michigan
    Marriage Date: 4 Dec 1901
    Marriage Place: Keeler, Van Buren, Michigan, USA
    Age: 23
    Residence Place: Keeler, Michigan
    Father: Henry Burg
    Mother: Mary A Feazer
    Spouse: William E Lang
    Record Number: 4022
    Film: 73
    Film Description: 1901 Tuscola – 1902 Branch

    1920 United States Federal Census
    Name: Beatrice Lang
    [Bertice Lang]
    Age: 9
    Birth Year: abt 1911
    Birthplace: Michigan
    Home in 1920: Mueller, Schoolcraft, Michigan
    Residence Date: 1920
    Race: White
    Gender: Female
    Relation to Head of House: Daughter
    Marital Status: Single
    Father’s name: William Lang
    Father’s Birthplace: Michigan
    Mother’s name: Minnie Lang
    Mother’s Birthplace: Michigan
    Able to Read: Yes
    Neighbors: View others on page
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    William Lang 38
    Minnie Lang 35
    Joseph Lang 16
    Beatrice Lang 9

    Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952
    Name: Beatrice Charles Lang
    Gender: Female
    Race: White
    Birth Year: abt 1911
    Birth Place: Michigan
    Marriage Date: 13 Jan 1935
    Marriage Place: Newberry, Luce, Michigan, USA
    License County: Alger
    Age: 24
    Residence Place: Blancy, Michigan
    Father: William Lang
    Mother: Minnie Burg
    Spouse: George William Cook
    County File Number: 3267
    State File Number: 2 624
    Film: 1
    Film Title: Alcosa 24-Emmet 24
    Film Description: Alcona – Alger (1937)

    Michigan, Divorce Records, 1897-1952
    Name: Beatrice Cook
    Marriage Date: 13 Jan 1935
    Marriage Place: Luce County, Michigan
    Decree Date: 17 Jun 1935
    Decree Place: Schoolcraft, Michigan, USA
    Spouse Name: Geoge W Cook
    State File Number: 75 70
    Docket Number: 1059
    Number of Children: 0
    Divorce Status: Granted

    Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952
    Name: Beatrice Charles Lang
    Gender: Female
    Race: White
    Birth Year: abt 1911
    Birth Place: Covert, Michigan
    Marriage Date: 3 May 1937
    Marriage Place: St Ignace, Mackinac, Michigan, USA
    License County: Mackinac
    Age: 26
    Residence Place: Elaney Park, Michigan
    Father: Wm Edward Lang
    Mother: Minnie E Burg
    Spouse: Walter George McDonald
    County File Number: 7374
    State File Number: 49 1153
    Film: 135
    Film Title: 49 Mackinae 290-2684; 50 Macomb 1-879
    Film Description: Mackinac (1929) – Macomb (1927

    U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014
    Name: Beatrice L. McDonald
    SSN: 365-12-9713
    Last Residence:
    44094 Willoughby, Lake, Ohio, USA
    BORN: 25 Jun 1910
    Died: 11 Dec 1997
    State (Year) SSN issued: Michigan (Before 1951)

    U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007
    Name: William Edward Lang
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Birth Date: 9 Sep 1880
    Birth Place: Covert, Michigan
    Father: Michael Lang
    Mother: Barbara Hood
    SSN: 367166974
    Notes: Jul 1937: Name listed as WILLIAM EDWARD LANG

    Note parents’ names on Joseph’s death record, Andrew’s marriage record and William’s marriage record and his U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007.

  16. I love a good genealogy mystery. I stayed up way too late working on it.

    Beatrice, Bernice and Lenna were cousins. Born respectively in 1910, July 1894, Jan 1893.

    Bernice’s Mother:
    Ella (not Etta) Teachout was married 3 times.
    1. William Buchanan in 1879. No children although he had a son that Ella raised after William died.
    2. Joseph Lang in 1888. This was Bernice’s Father.
    3. James Morgan in 1898. No children

    Joseph Lang had 4 brothers and 5 sisters.
    One brother, Andrew, married Laura Righter and were the parents of Lenna Lang who was born Jan. 1893, a year before Bernice, July 1894. Another brother, Wiliam married Minnie Burg and they were parents to Beatrice.

    As someone already said, Henry Burg was probably related to Minnie, possibly a brother.

  17. Lenna (Leene) Lang is a cousin to Beatrice Lang.
    Born: 1893, covert, MI
    Father Andrew Michael Lang
    Mother Larua Bell Righter
    Spouse Neil Albert Leggett
    Andrew Lang and William Lang are brothers.
    William is Beatrice’s father.