Looking for a Pennsylvania Connection

By Maureen A. Taylor

Every week I search the submissions for this column looking for a mystery photo. Each photo is accompanied by some basic information and usually a story. My next steps are to contact the person who sent in the photo either by phone or email, then start digging for more information. This picture is very intriguing.

Only one person in Patti Stafford’s group portrait is identified. It’s her great grandfather Ralph Reinhardt Marsteller (born 1887 in Center Valley, Pa.). The rest of the people are unknown.

But even having one name is a start. Patti hopes to find other Marsteller or Reinhard relatives who recognize people in this picture.

StaffordFamily photo Ralph Reinhardt Marsteller_edited-1.jpg

Ralph’s father William Hillegass Marsteller died suddenly at age 40 in 1896, Allentown, Pa, without a will. T he courts appointed a Mr. Snyder as Ralph’s guardian. Patti believes the 9-year-old and his sister, Estella, continued to live with their mother. It’s possible that court records hold additional details.

I’m working with Patti to piece together the story of this image.

  • Could the little boy on the left be her grandfather Ralph George Marsteller?
  • Could the older woman in the front be her great-great aunt?
  • Why is her great-grandfather in this picture, but not her great- grandmother and their other son?

Patti’s taking another look at her family history to see if she can find a family with several girls. There are three girls in the picture as well as the little boy in the sailor suit on the left. The gender of the child being held by the man in the back row isn’t clear.

So how do the clues add up? I’ll be back next week with the rest of the story. I love a good mystery—don’t you?

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