Multi-Generation Portraits, Redux

By Maureen A. Taylor

Last week, I featured a multi-generation picture submitted by Mary Lutz. We’ve been communicating about this photo via email, and I have a few more details to share.

The original post mentioned that the baby is Mary Ruth Talbott Godwin. There is one problem with that identification. She was born in 1892. The clues in this picture (hairstyles and bodice styles) don’t add up to that timeline. Instead, it’s an early 20th century picture.

Thank goodness Mary also recognized the discrepancy. She provided an alternative identification for these women, one that makes sense based on the photo clues.

The baby is Ruth Waterstradt (born 1909). The mother is Pearl Godwin Waterstradt (born 1885). The grandmother in the center is Jennie Witten Godwin (born 1864) and on the left is great-grandmother Mary Brown Witten (born 1834). The baby is likely less than a year old which dates this image to circa 1910.

In addition to the four-generation picture, Mary sent in another group portrait. The two individuals in the center are Mary Brown Witten and her husband Samuel. The picture was taken in Grundy County, Mo.


The woman in the center is the same woman who appears on the left in the four-generation image.

This photo also dates from the early 20th century. Since Mary knows the identity of the two people in the center, the rest of the pieces should fall into place.

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