Tag: <span>powis</span>

A Saturday of Sepia

Since this isn’t the real Sepia Saturday (they’re on break until January), it’s not quite the same, but I wanted to keep up my momentum with the project and post a photo that I love but hasn’t come up for a theme yet.  There are SO many, and it’s hard to tell where to start!  I’ve been itching to post more of these old school photos, so we’ll start there.


I don’t have the names for all the kids, buy my great great grandma Olga (Powis) Kitko is in that photo, back row, 12th person in from the left.  On the far left, standing, is the teacher, Nellie M Askew who saw it fit to label the back of the photo, address it to Olga Powis, “Compliments of your teacher, Nellie M. Askew” – how convenient!  The back of the photo is a postcard style back, with a stamp square that indicates it was taken between 1907 and 1929 (NOKO, see here).  Olga was born in 1900 and the kids look to be about 7 or 8, so I’d put it around 1908, plus or  minus a year or two.  The teacher, Nellie, would’ve been 15 if I’m using the date of 1908 which makes me think my date guess might be off.  I’d assume she’d have to have been a high school graduate, but it’s possible she was able to teach the younger kids with only an 8th grade education.  She’s listed as being a teacher on the 1910 census though.  On the 1940 census, she lists her highest grade completed as 8th, so it’s still possible she was teaching at age 15.  It’s awfully strange to think about in our time to have a teacher be so young!

Other things that caught my eye about this photo is the muddy school yard that has no grass and those paper garlands hanging in the windows.  Then there’s the girls hair and those HUGE bows, the striped tie on the one boy in the front, and the one boy with his hat on at the left.  It’s really neat for this photo to survive that long (over 100 years) and give us a glimpse into what a bunch of kids looked like in the early 1900s.

Sepia Saturday 258: Scenes cropped from the background of other photographs



While I’m really late (almost a week) getting this post together, here it is, finally.  Better late than never, right?  The theme this week wasn’t an easy one for me to fill – I have a lot of posed photos of folks looking straight at the camera with few street scenes of everyday life.  The bulk of my family photos come from a large trunk that I’ve talked about before, and the area where they were taken just wasn’t that well developed, so the backgrounds of photos are trees for the most part.  Not too interesting.  Thankfully, Earl Powis, great grandma Olga’s brother, sent home a few photos from when he was in the Navy during World War I (May 1917-August 1919).  These were labelled as having been taken in Yorktown, Virginia, presumably at the Navy Base that’s still in existence.  The buildings, however, I doubt still exist, so it’s hard to place where on the base this may have been taken.  It’s really neat to see all the sailors standing around, smoking, and in the crop at the top, one of them seems to be  catching a cough or wiping his face with his hand.  I can’t identify Earl as having been in the photo, so I have to imagine he was the one taking it instead.  Keeping this short and sweet to catch up and get on with finding an image for this Saturday’s prompt!


Sepia Saturday 257: Lassoo, Dad and Son, Porch, Dog, Cowboy


When I saw the prompt image a few weeks ago in the “coming soon” section on Sepia Saturday, I immediately thought of this photo.  It’s been a bit of a thorn in my side as far as finding out who everyone is, but I’ve made some progress since the beginning.  Here’s the rundown of who’s who (or who I think is who) with uncertain identifcations marked with a question mark.

Back, Left to right: Jessie (Battin) Powis, June (Croyle) Johnson?, Euphaime (Lamb) Miller, Marion Miller?, Oscar “Fritz” Powis, Laura (Johnson) Powis
Center, Left to right: Charles Miller and William Miller (twins, not sure who is who)
Front, Left to right: Alfred Powis, Louise Johnson?, Margaret Johnson?, Frank Johnson

As far as a date goes, Laura and Fritz were married in March of 1926, so I’d assume the Johnson family was over to visit on or around the time of their wedding.  Dorothy Powis, their daughter, was born in December of 1926, and there’s no baby in the photo, nor does Laura look pregnant, so I’d have to pretty solidly put this in early to mid 1926.  As far as my guesses go, I assumed June Johnson would be in the photo and she’s identified solely by process of elimination.  I’d found another user’s photo of Euphaime Miller online, and the Miller twins appear over and over in other photos (my great grandma was clearly smitten with them and may have even taken this photo).  I also guessed on Marion Miller since she’s standing near her mother and brothers.  The two gals in the front are likely Laura’s two younger sisters, but it’s hard to tell who is who since they were born a year apart.  The Millers are, as far as I can tell, not related at all, just neighbors.

A lot of the guesswork with the identifications takes  into account the date and circumstances for the photo.  Sometimes it’s easy to get frustrated when there are no labels and put a photo aside, but with a little critical thinking (Laura and Fritz were recently married, I know that’s Frank Johnson and the Miller Twins, so…) and a few lucky google/ancestry hits, things can be sorted out eventually.  It definitely pays to revisit unidentified photos from time to time!


Sepia Saturday 256: Festivals, floats, feathers, and fair maidens

Another one from great grandma’s personal photo album.  I’d posted about this little album a while ago and the issue that the photos are all glued to black construction paper-like pages.  I had managed to free a few of the photos that were loose already and made a few new discoveries.  Fitting in with the Sepia Saturday this week, I present to you a group of  fair maidens.



On the back is written, “Left to right, Anna Shranko, Goldie Powis, Helen Somerville, Kathleen Troland, and Mary Shranko. The Shranko sisters are from Osceola Mills, PA. Four Budds and one bloom from Williamsport, PA. Taken May 15, 1932”  Junua “Goldie” Powis (nee Patchin) was my great grand uncle’s wife.  Alfred Herbert Powis had died 6 years prior to this photo being taken and they only had one son who died in infancy.  It’s sort of a sweet way to refer to Goldie as a, “bloom,” and the other girls who had never been married as, “budds.”  I haven’t been able to find out much about the other girls, and I think maybe some of the names are spelled wrong.  I did find an entry on the 1930 census that shows Helen, Kathleen, and Mary living in a house together in Williamsport, PA, with them all working a variety of different jobs from machine operator to saleslady and even laborer in a rubber factory.  All the gals are dressed nicely for a lovely late spring day (see the tulips blooming in the foreground?).  Again, I have to wonder who took the photo and took the time to label it as well with a date and all the names.  And that’s that!  Short and sweet this week, and a little late given that things have been  pretty busy at Casa Sheetar.  It’s still Saturday though, so I say it works!


Sepia Saturday 253: Miners, Angling, Fishy Tales, Three Men

Well, no anglers, but we have miners in every section of the family tree for this week’s Sepia Saturday.  The majority of my family lived in or around, at one point or another, central Pennsylvania, well known for its coal mining industry.  There are SO many photos I can add in here, so I’ve picked out a few of the best, including a link and update to an old post.  This is going to be a huge post, so bear with me.

This photo was originally posted here a few years ago.  The label on the back reads, “Herb and D. Alexander on the way home,” and was written partly in great grandma Olga’s younger handwriting, then clarified below with, “on the way home,” in the handwriting more characteristic of her older years.  Herb is definitely Alfred Herbert Powis, Olga’s brother, sitting on the left.  D. Alexander is likely to be Dempster William Alexander (1898-1978) since he’s the only one from the local censuses who fit the age and name.  Both boys grew up in Clearfield County in Pennsylvania and while I still can’t tell which mine this is, it’s just a fantastic picture of the equipment, the soot on their faces, the lunch pails, and everything.  They’re not clean and posed – it’s more a relaxed sort of photo and one of my favorites from the collection.  For a date, I’d estimate it around 1916 or so, prior to Herb going off to war.


Fairly recently, I was going back through the scans of great grandma’s photo album when a pretty faded photo caught my eye.  I’ve done a little bit of photo magic to increase the contrast, but it’s a really fantastic photo.  The boy on the mining cart is Earl Powis Jr, son of Earl William Powis.  You can see rails in the background and even what looks like a donkey about dead center above the cart.  It’s neat to see the other side of what appears to be a similar car to the one at the top of this post with all the controls and whatnot.  This one probably dates to 1927-1930.


My grandfather, Leon Kitko (Olga’s son), ever the joker, wrote a few notes in his mining log book for the Ebensburg Coal Company.  If you can’t read that, after the last printed line, it says, “and all the other ways in which you could kill yourself without even trying.”  It was undoubtedly not the safest of work environments even if you followed all the safety precautions in the booklet.  He grew up fascinated with coal mining and the machinery that went along with it, leaving behind a scrapbook full of photos of the machinery including photos of him as a child playing with replica toy coal shovels he built himself.

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Two images Grandpa Leon took of coal miners and their families.  Fred Frye on the left with a D-8 Bulldozer, and John Ruffin and family with a shovel in the background.  One has the date of 1948, and I’m assuming the other is about the same date.

A Bay City Shovel at work in the coal mines.  Most of these operations were strip mining, cutting away or stripping the side of a mountain to get at the veins of coal.  Hardly glamorous work, and you can see a man’s rear sticking out of the door of the machine there, checking something or another.


Finally, the Bituminous Miner’s Certificate for my other grandpa, John Rachocki dated 31 October 1939.  This is just a great document because it shows his birth date and place as well as the position he held (Mine Foreman).  Grandpa John died when I was four, so I don’t remember him that well, so having paperwork like this is really precious to show who he was and what he did throughout life.

And that’s it!  Just a few pieces of history for the mining industry in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.


Sepia Saturday 250: Street traders, artisans, shoes, tools of the trade, mending, hand-colouring

While I am a little bit of a late-comer to Sepia Saturday, it’s pretty impressive that they’ve had 250 Saturdays of prompts!  Joining in on the fun has been great for me – it keeps me actively blogging and actively working on the thousands of photos in the collection.  I’m not kidding, thousands.  I really need to get together a post on the entirety of the big trunk one of these days because it’s SUCH a gem, but that’s something for another post.  Today I’ve decided to explore hand-coloring to fit in with the theme.

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But wait!  That’s not a hand-colored photo?  What gives?!  I’ve never quite seen anything like this before, so I wanted to share it.  The boys in the photo  appear to be Alfred Herbert Powis and Earl William Powis, Sr  dated probably at about 1900 judging on the apparent ages of the two boys.  They don’t look terribly amused, and the older boy, Alfred, is shooting daggers at someone just to camera right.  They’re set up to roll those hoops with sticks which was a popular kids game  over the course of many centuries.  On the back of the photo are specific orders for reprints including instructions for hand coloring!  I’ve modified the color/contrast to make the back easier to read, but as far as I can tell, it goes like this,

Nov 6.
Mrs. Alfred Powis
Blaine City, PA
Bust of both 20×16.  Hair both golden light.  Eyes blush gray.  Very fair complexion.  Cheeks pink.  White waists.  Little boys coat blue, largest boy coat gray trimmed with brown.  Don’t have largest boys looking down much and make face angle & light.

It’s probably not a perfect transcription of the very faded pencil on the back, and the initials at the bottom “WH” don’t match the photographer.  Instead of a photographic reprint, perhaps their mother was having painted or artistic renderings done from the photo.  I never have found the reproductions made from this photo, but it’s neat to be able to see what the colors of their jackets were in the written record.

Here’s the hand-colred image!  This is of my grandmother, Norma Innocenti probably when she was about 15, so around 1936.  The colors used seem to be blue, pink, and green – pretty simple, but I’m sure it was an expense when times were difficult, to have an image reprinted and hand-colored.  There are so few photos of my grandmother when she was young since that side of the family wasn’t big into pictures.  Check out those shoes with the striped socks and printed dress!  I love it!  None of the other photos from this side of the family are colored in like this, so the photo is rather unique.  I’m told that there were never photos hanging on the wall or anywhere in the house while my grandmother was growing up.  It just wasn’t something they did.  Compare that to the family for the boys above that comes with thousands of photos, and my collection is REALLY lopsided.  However, that means that the few photos we do have from my grandmother’s family are extra special.

Sepia Saturday 245: Drinking, sharing, posing, lurking


When the prompt for this week came up, my mind almost immediately went to this photo.  Five young men standing outside a fair that apparently runs September 11-14th and may be a circus from the Barnum & Bailey sign in the background.  The young man in the light colored hat, second from the right (including the lurker in the background by the door), I believe is my great grand uncle Harry Oscar Frederick “Fritz” Powis (b. 1 May 1903, Blain City, Clearfield, PA; d. 22 Jun 1972, Philipsburg, Centre, PA).  The man standing to the left of Fritz, I think is either George Riley or Floyd Shank.  I have another photo with two men in uniform, one of whom looks an awful lot like the gentleman in uniform here, but I don’t know who is who in the other photo!  I hit two of the themes this week between posing and lurking, and how about the tie on the man on the far left!  As far as a year for the photo, I’d guess somewhere around 1919 or so.  I’m not sure at all who the other two young boys are or the man in the tie.  Still, it’s a neat photo, even if it’s a bit faded and worn!


Sepia Saturday 242: Fans, Faces, National Costumes, Hidden Meanings

I really love it when a Sepia Saturday prompt really makes me think or leads me to a new discovery.  In this case, it’s definitely a new discovery and the prompt helped me link up a few pieces of an old puzzle.  In the trunk of photos from Grandpa’s house, there was a large-ish photo (about 8×10) of a native tribe’s band.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my great-great grandmother would’ve had such a large photo of a band like this, and left the mystery behind since there were SO many more to work on.  Here enters this week’s prompt where I nail two categories, National Costumes and Hidden Meanings.  Below is a photo of the Ogonomowok (or Oconomowok, spelling is different from the drum to the banner) tribe band.  It’s the only photo in my collection that really fit, so I figured I’d go with it, even if it was  a mystery.  I started zooming in on the faces, and poked around the newspaper archive to see what came up for the band.  There’s an article from June 14, 1917 in the Altoona Tribune in Pennsylvania stating that the tribe band participated in a parade ending the Great Council of the “Improved Order of Red Men.”  Great grand uncle Alfred Herbert Powis (b. 28 Oct 1892 in Blain City, Clearfield, PA; d. 6 Jul 1926, Clearfield, PA), affectionately referred to as “Herb,” was in a number of bands throughout his life, and the trunk had a bunch  of photos of him posing with his trumpet.  Looking closer at the photos, it looks like the man standing up, 5th in from the left, is Herb!  I’ve added another photo in for comparison’s sake to see if you agree or not.  In the other photo, he’s very clearly identified with an “X” over his head.  The second image is dated as, “Herbert, 1918, overseas,” so it seems that  these two were taken within a year or so of eachother.

As far as Hidden Meanings, Herb was 100% British, the first son born in America of two parents from England, so I was stumped as to why he was in a Native American costume.  The band members do have different colored costumes, so I wondered if perhaps people with Native American heritage were in the darker uniforms, and ordinary band members were in the lighter uniforms, or if the band was just for fun and had little to do with the tribe other than the namesake.  The Wikipedia article linked above though, clued me in that the organization was a fraternal society established to promote Liberty and defy the tyrrany of the English Crown, using rituals and regalia modeled after Native American tribes.  In fact, Wikipedia goes on to point out, the organization was Whites Only until 1974!  So, the “National Costume” is a “Hidden Meaning” in and of itself.  Turns out the photo was absolutely nothing that I assumed it to be at first glance.  I won’t get into how I feel about an organization of white men using Native American dress and terms to form a fraternal order – that’s something for another post.

In closing, I want to thank Sepia Saturday for challenging me to explore these old family photos and bringing about new discoveries!



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