Friday, September 19, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Little Friends

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday photo featuring three children in a field of poppies prompted me to revisit this picture of my uncle Orvin Davis Jr. sharing a seat in a wheelbarrow with a little boy, both being ignored by a little girl. 

Orvin Davis Jr., Lanier Wade, Louise Wade Shenandoah, VA 1927  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Orvin Jr. is in the middle
Shenandoah, VA about 1927

My long-standing question about the identity of these children  – cousins? neighbors? – was rather quickly answered when I noticed the same children appear in another photo that was actually labeled with the children’s names:  Lanier and Louise. 

Lanier Wade, Orvin Davis Jr., Louise Wade 1927 Shenandoah, VA   http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Lanier, Orvin Jr., and Louise

The possibility that they were cousins was instantly eliminated.  Another clue to their identity was the Davis Store in the background.

Closeup of Davis Store


















The store was at the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Shenandoah, Virginia.   The house where Orvin Jr., Lanier, and Louise were playing faced Pennsylvania Avenue.  Based on Orvin Jr’s birth in 1925, the photo was probably taken in 1927, so I looked at both the 1920 and 1930 census records at Ancestry.com for my grandparents who lived on Sixth Street.  Clicking back and forth from the image, I located the families living on Pennsylvania Avenue, but no Lanier and Louise.

Snip of 1930 Shenandoah, Page, Virginia census
Not to be defeated, I searched Ancestry.com entering Lanier, no last name, living in Shenandoah, Virginia in 1930.  And ta da – there he was along with a sister Louise, and his parents Harry and Nelle WADE living on Sixth Street, just a few doors away from the Davis family.  However, I still don’t know whose yard they were playing in because the house was rented in both 1920 and 1930 by different people, so who lived there in 1927 is anyone’s guess.

Lanier and Louise did not remain in Shenandoah very long.  Their father Harry was apparently climbing the corporate ladder in the flour mill business. In 1920, shortly after he married Nelle Snider, he worked in a mill in Rockbridge County.  By 1930, he was superintendent of a flour mill in Shenandoah.  Possibly he worked for Shenandoah Milling Company, a large grain elevator and flour mill.  However, he might as easily have been employed at any number of smaller mills since there seemed to have been a mill on every corner. 

Between 1935 and 1940, the Wades relocated to Huntington, West Virginia, where Harry was “Head Miller” of Gwinn Brothers & Co, the leading merchant millers of grain and hay in the state.  The Wades were finally able to change their status from renters to home owners with their purchase at 839 9th Street valued at $6000 in 1940.

Home of the Wades at least in 1940
839 9th Street, Huntington, West Virginia
from Google Maps

What became of Louise is not known.  However, Lanier married Katherine Gillespie in 1944, joined the Marines, and died in 1999.  Harry and Nelle, and Lanier and Katherine are all buried at the White Chapel Memorial Gardens in Barboursville, Cabell County, West Virginia. 

While poppies might induce sleep, even in a tent, the children will keep you entertained at Sepia Saturday.




© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.  

42 comments:

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    1. Thanks -- now if I could only figure out if the Wades were renting that house then or if the kids were simply playing in a neighbor's yard.

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  2. What a lot of research you have to do. Love the photo of the children in the wheelbarrow.

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    1. Yeah, that photo is so cute in so many ways.

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  3. Great sleuthing. Good thing that Lanier was not a common name!

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    1. Really! I figured searching by "Lanier" was the easiest way to find them and I was right.

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  4. I love the kids in a barrow photo and I’m full of admiration that you are able to pinpoint the spot in the second photo so accurately.

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    1. I like that photo too. I called my cousin (Orvin Jr's daughter) to ask about it, and she has never seen that photo. I hope she'll open her email soon since I have sent her a copy.

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  5. Good sleuthing to find out what happened to Lanier. Too bad it wasn't possible to follow Louise, but being a fairly common name & the fact that she probably married and moved away (that fact deduced by her not being buried with the rest of the family), it would be a very difficult task if not impossible.

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  6. Great pictures, Happy Sepia Saturday!

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    1. Thanx! And a Happy Sepia Saturday to you too.

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  7. Wonderful detective work and a very interesting photo. I love the way she's turned away from the boys. Orvin looks a little like Winston Churchill :)

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  8. Great photos -- I love those old wool bathing suit thingies; my father told me they itched like fury. He hated 'em!

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    1. I guess kids didn't know any better because there are plenty of photos of people in itchy bathing suits.

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  9. Wow! Very impressive Wendy! That's some great sleuthing.

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    1. As sleuthing goes, this one was pretty easy -- until Louise came to a screeching halt.

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  10. Good research. I'm sure it helped to have an uncommon name like Lanier to trace.

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    1. Absolutely -- an unusual name is a godsend.

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  11. Fabulous photos, cute kids, and a great bit of research to identify them. Well done!

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  12. The wheelbarrow photo is wonderful. I've never heard of Lanier as a name - I wonder if it was an ancestor's surname.

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    1. I have heard of Lanier only as a surname too. I often wonder how parents selected names, especially when there was no obvious family connection.

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  13. What better use is there for a wheelbarrow. Well done for identifying the children.

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    1. I wonder if anyone rode the kids around or if that wheelbarrow was just sitting there.

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  14. That photo is remarkably close to our theme photo! The old family wheelbarrow! You are such a determined detective! Great work.

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  15. Isn't Ancestry.com grand? You give a couple hints and you get a family tree. Fine detective work from so few clues on this one. And a photograph that begs investigation. Good post.

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  16. Bravo! I doubt that the people who developed Ancestry.com ever imaged that it would be used as a research tool to identify children playing with a wheelbarrow. I've learned that the adjacent lines and pages of census records offer great clues to family connections.

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    1. So true. The early census records especially - those years when there are so few records for my ancestors - provide a lot of help in tracing a family since people tended to marry their neighbors.

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  17. I love little boys in the 1920s with their hats squashed down over their ears. They always make me smile.

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    1. Isn't Lanier the cutest in that picture? He looks ready for an audition to play Huckleberry Finn in a movie.

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  18. Great detective work and wonderful photos showing a different time (love those bathers and the serious look of Orvin jnr). A very enjoyable post.

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    1. Oh yes, that expression -- I remember seeing that same expression when Orvin Jr. was an adult!

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  19. I've had similar journeys using on Ancestry.com census records like that. That "voila" moment is very satisfying! Oh and I loved wheelbarrow rides at that age too. :) Very nice post.

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    1. A ride in a wheelbarrow could certainly produce some giggles and some screams. Invariably the ride ended with everyone falling off the side.

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  20. Great sleuthing to resolve most of the mystery ...now as to whose yard they were in... Love the disdainful expressing on the little girl with the wheelbarrow. I wonder if they were having a dip under a hose or sprinkler?

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    1. Yes, Louise does look a bit annoyed or confused or something in that one picture. I also wondered if there was a hose set up somewhere for the kids to run through. Or maybe they were on their way to the Blue Hole to play in the river.

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  21. Hopefully someday family members will come upon this and be thrilled to see these old photos.

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    1. I wouldn't be surprised. I've been contacted by family of others I've featured here, including the nephew of my grandmother's ex-boyfriend.

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