Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mystery Photo Subjects Identified

One of the most interesting photos found among John and Betty Blackwell’s effects was this surprisingly well-preserved studio shot which, judging by the clothes, was taken sometime around the turn of the last century. But who are they?

Smiths, surely. I thought the older of the two boys looked like he could be a teenage version of my maternal grandfather, Tom Herbert Smith. That would make the middle-aged man George Herbert Smith, Tom H’s father, the royal reporter. And the younger boy would be one of his brothers. I also thought the older boy looked quite a bit as I remember Chris Yull in his teens. Karen thought he looked a bit like me.

In any case, I sent the picture to Mort Smith, a second (third?) cousin I made contact with in England a while back after stumbling on one of his son Alan’s several-years-old posts at an Internet genealogical site. Here’s Mort’s reply:

“Fantastic photo that I've never seen before. It is definitely George Herbert Smith in the centre and my father, George Morton Smith, on the right of the picture. My dad was born in 1887 so he would have been 13 in 1900. I suspect it may have been a year or two earlier than that.”

Tom H was born in 1886. The 1901 census says Tom H (mistakenly identified as “Lone H,” but corrected elsewhere), was the eldest child, listed as 15 at the time of the survey, with George M next at 13. So it must be Tom on the left. I’m guessing the picture was taken in 1898 or 1899, when they were 13 and 11.

Mort, by the way, is almost exactly my age, though of the generation before mine. He, like his father and uncles – and grandfather – before him, is a journalist: the “family business,” as he refers to it. 

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