Most family photos depict clean and tidy ancestors in studios. But photographers also traveled to their customers, taking photos in homes and workplaces. This photo of a lumber camp has been passed through four generation of Christy Parent’s family, but its story has been lost.
Parent knew her great-grandmother had two images copied, retouched and merged to create this photo. Parent believes the original photos belonged to her great-great-grandmother Catherine Mahany, who was raised in a convent and had two siblings. In 1904, she married Alfred Eckhart. They lived in Michigan and Illinois.
Parent wanted to learn more about Catharine Mahany. A breakthrough came when Parent’s mother found the faded original image (not shown), which has a mat captioned “October 1874 Camp on Medix Run, Clearfield Co. Pa.” An online search with this new information located a biographical sketch of a John Mahany of Benezette Township, Elk County, Pa.. It helps explain why Catherine Mahany was raised in a convent: Her mother died and her father remarried. And she actually had four siblings. Perhaps her father couldn’t care for the children, or his new wife wanted them raised elsewhere.
The sketch retells John’s work history as a lumbering foreman from 1864 to 1877, and again in 1883. He’s probably in this picture. In 1874, he would’ve been 30. Eliminating men who look older or younger can narrow the possibilities. But Parent will need to compare facial features of the men with other images of John Mahany to make a positive ID.