Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

The cover detail of these albums is intricate. When I first pulled them from a trunk in the attic of my parents ten years ago, I didn’t recognize anyone. I wondered why no one wrote any names in these family albums. Who did they belong to?

I expect the owner/collector of these photos did not envision a time when no one would know the family members in the photos. It was a reminder not to make the same mistake in my lifetime. Have I written on the back of my memorable photos? Rarely. Are photos collected in my lifetime organized? Not yet. I’m working on it.

This year, I open the ancestors’ albums again while sitting in the old rocker my grandmother rocked me in. I gingerly remove the photos to look at the back. There are no names written there; some have the photographer’s stamp. I decide to investigate one album at a time, beginning with the smallest leather-bound one with the clasp, pictured in the front above.

In this album, I find photos of ancestors I now recognize for I have been immersed in them for a time now. The first two photos are of my great-great grandparents, Otis and Elsie Fuller Berry Means by photographer E. Vose in Machias, Maine. The same photos were in the Grace Means’ photo collection sent to the family in 1924. The next two photos are of a young woman that I cannot identify. I turn the page and find my great grandfather William, nearly the same photo is in his autograph book. The photographer was J.M. Goins, South State Street, Chicago. Was William doing business there I wonder?

Most of the album pages are empty, either never filled or distributed among the family. I do not recognize ten of the photos in the album. Are most of these men, women and babies William and his four brothers and sisters at different ages? Perhaps one of the women is William’s eldest sister Harriet, for she was not included in the Grace Means’ photo collection. Whoever she is, she does not resemble William’s other sister, Francis. The photos of this woman were taken in Boston where Harriet lived, as did William’s eldest brother, Andrew Means. I don’t see his two brothers’ likeness in these faces either, Andrew or Eliphalet. But then, I didn’t recognize William’s younger self in the autograph book at first. The elders in the album may be members of the Berry family.

I ask myself questions, think about the research required to find answers. I suppose it will help to just hold each album in my hands and ask whether I have spent enough time with my ancestors to answer these questions.

From the age of my great-great grandparents in the photos, I estimate the date as 1870s. The photographer, Ezekiel Vose, was listed in the 1876 Briggs’ Maine Business Directory. The photo of my great grandfather William is from 1875 or 1876 as the photographer, JM Goins, was located on State Street in Chicago for those two years. William’s age was 20 or 21 years old at the time, as he was born in 1855. The tintype photo of the baby in the carriage could range from 1855 to 1870s. My grandparents, William and Nellie Means were married in 1880. It seems likely that this one album originally belonged to William’s parents, Otis and Elsie Means of Machiasport, Maine and was handed down and stored in the attic where I discovered four old albums over 120 years later.

I’ve explored and documented one album. What might I discover in the other three?

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My great-great grandparents Otis and Elsie Means; My great grandfather William Means.

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Photos that I cannot identify. Yet.

Related posts:

1913. The Means Family.

The Means and Getchell Families.

My Great Great Grandmother’s Things

are in my little home. They possess the warmth and love of her life, her daughter Nellie, my grandmother Harriet, my mother Louise. They stayed safe under the care of these women and the house at 24 Broadway. I found it tucked away in the attic. A cotton chair back cover (I think), embroidered with a G for Getchell, became a cafe curtain in my bathroom.

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This old blanket embroidered with M J G 12 (Martha Jane Getchell) was on a bed in the house I grew up in and used for more years than I count, likely since 1912. It’s a bit thin and tattered along one short edge but it’s still a warm, usable, wool blanket I treasure. I will tuck it around my grandchildren when they visit. Since Martha Jane Getchell died in 1913, I expect this was a gift to keep her warm during the last year of her life or it was her gift to future generations.dscn1913

The bathroom contains another story or two. The hooked rug on the wall was a kit purchased by my mother but never used. I found it when I began to sort out the things in the attic. When I went to live with and care for my mother in 2003, I brought the kit downstairs. Mom liked to watch one TV show in the evening so I sat with her and started the rug. It wasn’t long before Mom lost interest in TV. I set the rug aside, about 2/3 remained unfinished. Last winter, I picked it up again and enjoyed finishing it, remembering sitting with my mother.

I don’t know who possessed the early 1900s standard bathtub or the fixture set into a marble shelf. But, I am sure it came from an old downeast Maine home. I found the tub and faucet at a local used furniture store with my life-long friend David, in answer to my vision of an old tub in my home. “It will be hard to find a old tub in good shape Sherry,” he said. We walked into the store and there it sat, as if waiting for us.

In a future post, I will write about the furniture of my great grandparents, William and Nellie Means, found in the sprawling barn at their home, now sitting in my home.

Cash Sales at the ES Means Store 1875

Eliphalet Scribner Means had a store in downtown Machias, Maine. He was my great grandfather William‘s elder brother. The Means store sold a wide variety of foods and household items: butter, milk, eggs, cider, smoked beef, partridge, fish, cranberries, faucets, dressers, clothing. And candy. The freight book shows that Means ordered and received produce from Boston to sell, including oranges and green gages.

The list goes on. Here are some sample pages from the Cash Book of the Means store.

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My Great Grandfather’s Books

Yesterday, I took his library books out of storage, looking for a place to put them. I live in a small space. I am dedicated to minimizing my possessions. But these books need a home, at least most of them. In 2007, I retrieved them from the attic, sorted out books in good condition, all published in the late 1800s. Some I kept because of their interesting titles. Somehow the attic with its wide boards, beams and rafters protected many old things. When I gaze at the books, I imagine his library that became the sitting room for my family. It had a beautiful fireplace with a burnished wood mantle. The books he collected tell me something about William Gordon Means, my great grandfather.

I shall organize these books and let them tell me where they will go. But, that will be another day. My back is killing me from moving the boxes of books. Thus, my activities are limited today and I share them with you.

Black Beauty. Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. Greek Grammar.

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Secrets in the Attic

Tucked between wall studs at our home on Broadway in Machias, my father found a book hidden by my great grandfather William Means. Creative and Sexual Science Including Love, Its Laws, Power & C. Author: O.S. Fowler. Published in 1870. The book contains a complete guide for men! There will be more on this book later. It’s quite a hoot.

I’ve included a photo of one section entitled:

Manhood Defined By What Women Love in Men. Women Love Male Strength, Size and a Fine Physique.

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My Great Great Great Grandparents. Bible Record of Births and Deaths.

The parents and siblings of my great great grandfather Otis Witham Means.

Robert Means. Born in Saco, Me

July 25th 1783

Charlotte K Witham. Born in Bradford MA??

September 7th 1790

Robert Means and Charlotte K Witham were married in Bluehill, Me, December 1st, 1809. By the Rev. Jonathan Fishev

Mehitable Kimball Means. Born Sept 11th 1810

John Witham Means. Born Oct 6th, 1812

Alexander Hamilton Means. Born Oct 23d 1814

Otis Witham Means. Born June 6th 1817

Robert Parker Means. Born Sept 24th 1819

Charlotte Kimball Means. Born Sept 16th 1820

Mary Susan Ray Means. Born March 30th 1823

Elvina Stevens Means. Born Nov 8th 1825

Robert Henry Byron Greensough Means. Born Jan 30 1831

 

Deaths

Robert Means died Nov 2nd 1842. Aged 59

Robert Parker Means died Oct 26th 1819. 2 days 1 month

Mehitable Kimball Means died May 4th 1857.  Aged 46

John Gordon, C.K. Means Husband died Sept 16th, 1855. Aged 38 years 4 months 2 days

This Bible record is part of the 1924 Grace Means collection of ancestor records and portraits. Grace wrote on the back:

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