Identifying Old Photos of Children

By Maureen A. Taylor

Genealogists need a sense of humor. You never know what you’re going to find. Loretta Gillespie, author of the blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree, submitted this photo of two children. Last week I dated it to the mid to late 1880s.


To try to solve this mystery, Loretta sent me a link to her family tree. Her ancestor Isabelle Pierce Wright had 11 children. Loretta is hoping this tintype depicts the two youngest children, Charles Pearl Marion Wright (b. 1877) and Geneva “Neb” Wright (b. 1880). Loretta sees the “Wright ears and weak chin.”

This is a possible identification. Having other photos of the children taken later in their lives would help verify it.

Loretta’s great-grandfather (and Neb’s nephew) William Gillespie wrote a poem about Neb:

Aunt Neb was the youngest, about 16 years old. Her learning was slight, if not zero.
She’d chew her tobacco and fight for her share,
And woe to the hombre that got in her hair.
She could swim like a seahorse and dive like bear,
And frighten the fish as she came up for air!”

Next week is all about cute kids. Thank you for submitting all those pictures! (And if you have one to submit, click the “How to Submit Your Photo” link on the left.)

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

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album