Further Clues in the Connecticut Photo Mystery

By Maureen A. Taylor

Last week I introduced a photo mystery from the Derby (CT) Public Library with links to archaeological excavations. The big question is: “Who’s in this photo?”

Let’s look at some of the evidence in the picture.

  • The shed is of unknown use. A higher-resolution image might reveal what’s inside the door. There appears to be items piled up. I’ll wait for a clearer image to share that with you.
  • An elderly woman stands in the front yard. The front door is to her left.Freemanclose-upt.jpg
  • Nancy Freeman lived in the house from the time of her marriage until her death in 1895. She has a cane in her right hand and a hat in her left. She wears an apron over her dress.


  • A ladder against the house suggests that she’s having shingles replaced. The workman left his coat and hat draped over a pole.


  • Do you see the shadow on the grass? This is the photographer. I’m working on verifying a caption on a copy of this picture. It contains the name of the photographer.

The Freeman house is built on a hill. Behind the house the land drops off. Archaeologists found some of the foundation for the shed, but not enough to be able to determine its function or size. They found poultry wire on the site, which confirms stories about Nancy raising turkeys to support herself.

I’ll keep digging for new data.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album