The King Family: Sorting Through The Clues in Three Old Photos

By Maureen A. Taylor

Photographs can provide proof of close family relationships among cousins now long forgotten. Sorting through the clues in one family’s collection and digging deeper into genealogical research sources solves one picture mystery for genealogist Mary Roddy. She knows a lot about her family history but one mystery picture had hoping it was her great grandfather.

Mary’s great grandmother Mary Jane Fields (born 1854) along with her parents sailed around Cape Horn at the tip of South America in the late nineteenth century to eventually settle in Amador, California. In 1875 she was maid of honor at her first cousin, Alice Devlin’s marriage to Nicholas King there. Unfortunately, there are no known images of the wedding.

The discovery of gold in Juneau, Alaska in 1880, attracted people to the fast growing community of Douglas, Alaska including the King family who moved there in 1888. Despite the distance between Amador and Douglas, this picture is proof that Mary Jane and Alice stayed in touch.

This photo of Nick and Alice King taken for their 50th anniversary was in Mary Roddy’s collection and in the collection of a direct descendant of the couple.

With family in both Alaska and California, two other pictures in Mary’s collection posed a mystery.

Alice taken circa 1900.
The dress bodice and sleeves suggest that date. But this photo generates a lot of questions:

  • What is Alice doing in California?
  • Could she be visiting relatives?
  • Is there proof of that trip?
  • If this photo is Alice could the unknown photo (below) in Mary’s collection be her great grandmother Mary Jane Fields?

This photo was also taken circa 1900.

The big problem with this picture depicting Mary Jane Fields is that by 1900, she’d be 46 years of age. The woman in this picture is likely only in her late teens or early twenties.

So who could it be? Next week’s clue solves the mystery.