Another week in our, “From Here to There,” theme for Sepia Saturday! This week, I thought I’d feature a car and my great grandmother, Olga (Powis) Kitko. The back of this is labelled, “Me & Joe’s Car,” which, from a previous post, helped lead me to identify a photo of my great grandfather as well. That car is featured in a number of photos with either Olga or Olga and a friend sitting in or on it, and it seems to have been quite the prize for Joe to have. I assume this is around 1930, possibly plus or minus about 2 years. Olga is wearing a rather pretty outfit between the shoes and dress and I have to wonder if possibly this was taken to commemorate their wedding. I haven’t yet been able to find a marriage certificate for Olga Powis and Joseph Kitko despite a lot of searching. My suspicion was that they stayed together under a common-law marriage, but now that I sit here and think about this image, it’s entirely possible they did get married out of state or somewhere I didn’t think to look yet. So, I’m left with more questions than when I started this post, but it gives me a few more things to think about!
For this week’s Sepia Saturday, our prompt image featured a man walking down a street. My photo here is instead of a man standing, but wearing about the same clothes and holding the same sort of hat as the man in our photo! This is clearly taken in the winter and likely near his childhood home – there are no leaves on the trees and it looks like there’s snow or ice on the ground. If I had to guess on a date for the photo, I’d say probably mid to late 1920s. The man in the photo is Waldo Orvis Powis, born 5 April 1906 in Beccaria, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and died on 3 Jul 1981 in Flushing, Queens, New York. My great grandmother was this man’s sister and wrote on the back of the photo with the handwriting indicative of her later years, “Waldo, Jack the Duke.” I’ve seen Waldo referred to as Jack a number of times, and while I’m not sure how he came across that nickname, I can only imagine he preferred it to Waldo!
Waldo married Irma Catherine McGarvey on 10 April 1926. He later divorced her on 1 October 1934 and married not even a year later on 3 August 1935 to Anna Josephine Capko. He spent two years in the Navy from 1942 to 1944. At some point before 1950, but after his Navy service, he moved to Queens and lived there with Anna till his death in 1981. He had two children with Irma, Shirley and Kenneth, though it looks like the kids went with their mother to Minnesota.
It’s not necessarily a super special photo this week, but a nice one nonetheless, probably taken by his sister, Olga. I’m glad Olga went back and pencilled on a label, though I’m fairly sure I could’ve identified this as Waldo without the label at this point. Looking forward to next week!
When I sat down to write this today, I had selected a photo weeks ago and popped it into #335’s folder. It’s no yawning koala bear like the prompt image for Sepia Saturday, but for whatever reason, the drowsy look on the faces of this couple was the first thing in my mind when I saw the prompt photo. Sometimes you just go with the feeling of a photo instead of going deep into the finer details. So, I opened up my WordPress new post editor and got to work, thinking I should probably do some research on who these folks were before putting up another, “Hey it’s a great photo, but I have no idea about the people!” sort of post.
Yet again, Sepia Saturday leads me to filling in some gaps on the family tree. Extended, adopted family tree, but I now have a clear connection to these folks that I didn’t know about before!
As you can see on the back of the photo postcard is written, “Mr & Mrs Bob Chilton.” It doesn’t look like Olga’s writing, so I’m guessing this is the handwriting of Jessie (Battin) Powis, my 2x great-grandmother. This photo has been on my radar for a while since the name isn’t familiar in the family or from the area in general. I had tried to do a little research a while back, but came up kind of empty since Bob Chilton is a common enough name and I had other photos with more of a lead to work on. I logged into Ancestry.com and tried to see if I could find a death certificate for a Bob or Robert Chilton since I have to assume he lived near my 2x great grandparents in Clearfield County, PA. BINGO! I found a death certificate (Ancestry.com link) for Thomas Robert Chilton who died in Ginter, Clearfield County, PA on 18 September 1938. His parents are listed as Benjamin Chilton and Sarah Ann Powis. Sarah Ann Powis. And he was born in England.. Hannng on a minute!
My 2x great-grandfather is Alfred Powis who was born Alfred Jackson on 26 April 1859 in Walsall, Staffordshire, England, and came to the USA in 1872. Alfred’s biological mother didn’t list his father’s name on his birth certificate and Alfred shows up on the 1861 census as a “Visitor” with Thomas Powis and Margaret Collings who apparently adopted him and brought him over to the USA. Thomas Powis’ parents were Thomas Powis and Sarah Ferriday.
Getting back to our dear Mr. Bob Chilton. Bob Chilton’s parents, as listed on his death certificate, were Benjamin Chilton and Sarah Ann Powis. I managed to find a marriage record for Sarah and Benjamin for 26 Mar 1849 at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England listing Sarah Ann’s father as Thomas Powis (Ancestry.com link). Well, that’s good enough for me. I already knew from a census rcord for Thomas Powis the younger (Alfred’s adoptive father) that he had a sister named Sarah Ann, so the pieces fell neatly into place. To seal the deal, there was even a passport application online (Ancestry.com link) with a photo of Thomas Robert Chilton which absolutely without a doubt matched my photo.
As for Mrs. Bob Chilton, her name is Hannah Elizabeth Fry. Once Bob’s story fell into place, I found her Find A Grave entry giving us her birth/death dates and parents’ names.
If that left you with your head spinning, here’s a screenshot from Ancestry.com to show the relationship. Remember that Alfred J Powis is my 2x great-grandfather and while his parents are not his biological parents, they adopted him and cared for him, so his adoptive family factored into his life likely more than his biological family ever did.
Whew! So how’s that for a long post?! In poking around on Ancestry.com, it looks like lots of other members have Bob as having died in 1913, but I don’t think that’s correct at all. All it takes is one person to post an erroneous fact, then it slowly cascades through other trees as people save it to theirs without fact-checking. I have a pretty high degree of certainty that I have everything correct here since all my pieces fit together well, plus, it would make sense for Alfred to have a photo of his (adoptive) cousin who lived nearby. Anyway, that’s that, and I’m feeling rather pleased with myself for having sorted out this mystery today!
EDIT 9:04 pm EDT: Turns out, I have even more evidence this is the right guy! I found this (ancestry.com link) 1871 England census showing Thomas R Chilton living with Thomas Powis, Margaret Collings and Alfred Powis. So, there you have it! The boys definitely spent some time living together and probably had a closer connection than I thought at first!
Only a day late which isn’t too bad for Sepia Saturday given how busy this week was! Our prompt image this week featured a man jumping over a towel held by two women. I went with the jumping part of the photo and found these ladies in my stash of family photos.
Going Left to Right, we have…
- Laura Esther Johnson, born 7 March 1905, died 25 June 2006. First wife of Harry Oscar “Fritz” Powis, married 12 March 1926.
- Olga Mary Louise Powis (my great grandmother), born 27 August 1900, died 29 July 1987. Sister-in-Law to the other girls in the photo.
- Goldie Patchin, born 19 March 1893, died 13 March 1975. Wife of Alfred Herbert Powis who died 6 July 1926.
- Irma Catherine McGarvey, born 2 December 1910, died 4 November 1976. First wife of Waldo Orvis “Jack” Powis, married 10 April 1926. I’m pretty sure that’s her – I only have one other photo of her to compare to, but the timing is just right for her to be included in this photo.
The back of the photo reads, “What you can see so much of us bloomers. Har Ha.” Then there’s an errant “One” or “On ‘E'” at the bottom – it’s hard to tell which it is. With two weddings and a funeral in one year, the family was together often, so I have to imagine this was taken sometime during 1926 or possibly a year before or after. The smile on Olga’s face is just delightful, and it’s pretty amazing given the cameras of the time that they were able to capture the girls in midair. The photographer was likely one of Olga’s brothers or possibly a parent. You can see Olga’s bloomers peeking out of the bottom of her dress, and Goldie’s dress appears to be an olive print which I’m rather smitten with. It’s just such a joyful photo, and I’m glad the girls stopped to take that photo and that it survived about 90 years at this point!
The prompt image for this week’s Sepia Saturday was a little difficult for me – I really have nothing quite like it, so I’m reducing it to the super basic idea of two women in a photograph. Well, I have lots of those! This photo has a label on the back and identifies someone I haven’t been able to sort out yet. The back has a date, August 5, 1936, and then underneath in the shaky handwriting indicative of my great grandma’s older years, it says, “Mother & Aunt Poll Creber from Canada.” Mother would be Jessie (Battin) Powis, but I’m not sure about Poll Creber! I know Jessie’s sister, Mary Jane Battin, married John Samuel Creber in England and then went to Canada, but none of her kids are named Poll or Polly, and none of John’s siblings are named Poll or Polly or married a woman by that name. There’s another photo of the same two people in a larger group apparently taken at the same time, and if I were a betting woman, I say that the “Poll” here is probably Mary Jane and Olga, as an older woman, couldn’t quite remember the details. I checked the border crossing database on ancestry.com and didn’t see the family there. If they visited and arrived by car, they wouldn’t have been recorded at the border crossing in the 1930s unfortunately – it was just arrivals by sea or train. But, based on the other photo, I think I can be pretty sure this is Mary Jane, and perhaps she went by the nickname Poll or Polly, but I hadn’t seen reference to that nickname until now. So, I think I might have sorted out this little mystery today!