Friday, June 1, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Leave It to Beavers


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



This week’s Sepia Saturday photo of children standing in a flooded street reminded me of a photo from my grandaunt Violetta Davis Ryan’s album. In both photos the light caught the small waves creating the look of broken glass.

Mrs. Beavers Page County, VA about 1920s https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

However, I am not convinced that this woman was standing in water. Maybe it is only illusion created by the play of light and shadow. On the same page of the album is a companion photo. The man is clearly standing on rock. River rock. OK, so maybe the woman was indeed standing in the water nearby. But why? Why would someone do that?
Mr. Beavers Page County, VA about 1920s https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

But the more pressing issues for me are why Violetta took photos of these people in the first place and who they were to her.

They are identified simply as Mrs. Beavers and Mr. Beavers. That is not a name in our family tree. In setting about to solve this mini-mystery, I made several assumptions.
  • They were likely neighbors or friends of the family.
  • They were likely Violetta’s parents’ generation, not her friends since she called them “Mr.” and “Mrs.”
  • They likely lived in Page County or Rockingham County.
  • The photo was taken likely between 1919 and 1925.

The census records from 1910 through 1940 show that the Beaver-no S families of Page County lived in Luray or just outside Luray in the community of Marksville. In Rockingham, there were Beaver-no S families in the town of Broadway. I was disappointed not to find them in any area closer to Shenandoah, the town where Violetta and parents lived. More than disappointed, I am just confused about how the families would have known each other.

I checked my three copies of The School Ma’am, yearbooks from the Harrisonburg Teachers College where Violetta and her sister Velma attended, hoping maybe a Beaver daughter was a student there also. No such luck.

Since Luray is closer to Shenandoah than is Broadway, I decided to concentrate on just the Page County Beavers. I ruled out those who would have looked older than Mr. and Mrs. Beavers did in the 1920s. I also ruled out those who would have been close to Violetta’s age as surely she would not have called her contemporaries “Mr.” or “Mrs.” I was left with a handful of names but no answers.

My next stop was Find A Grave. There I found a photo of a man who just might be our “Mr. Beavers.”
 
John William Beaver
Findagrave photo courtesy Justin S. )
What do you think? Could they be the same man? His birth year puts him in the correct generation (that is, IF my assumptions are correct).






















There is also a photo of a young Mrs. Beaver, but it is impossible to determine how she would have aged.
 
Emma Row Beaver
Findagrave photo courtesy Justin S. )














IF by some strange luck I identified the correct family, then this is John William Beaver and his wife Emma Row. John was son of John Pendleton Beaver, a Civil War Veteran, and Virginia Graves. Again, IF this is the correct family, then John William Beaver was grandson of Paschal Graves, an unusual and unforgettable name - to me, anyway. Why? Because the administrators of the estate of Paschal Graves were involved in a lawsuit against Fielding Jollett, my 3X great-grandfather. However, I doubt this is the kind of story that a young Violetta would even have known about. Even if she were aware, the case was over long before this picture was taken.

I have contacted the woman who posted some photos of John and Emma Beaver on Ancestry to see if she will compare my photos to others she might have of her grandparents. Then I will know whether to pat myself on the back or return to wondering who this Mrs. Beavers was and why she was standing in water.

I encourage you to visit the others at Sepia Saturday and flood them with comments.

Wendy
© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

16 comments:

  1. They look like the same people to me. You are so good at doing research!

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    1. It looks like you're outnumbered. HA!

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  2. Loved reading of your research. But I tend to think that isn't the same man. I've found the most identifiable characteristic is ears, and the folds of them just don't seem to match in my opinion. But I am often wrong. Hope that your guess is proven out by the contact correspondence!

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    1. You're probably right. I was struck by the general size of the man in each photo. Those rather small features seemed revealing to me. So far no response from the lady on Ancestry so I am losing hope.

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  3. The women look similar enough to be the same. Not sure about the man, and agree that the ears are probably a key characteristic. An interesting challenge, identify who as well as where.

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    1. Really? I felt rather sure about the man and less sure about the woman. I guess ultimately I will be proven wrong either way.

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  4. Ooooo I do love a good mystery! I had a mystery wedding photo and found who it was when someone on ancestry posted the same photo! haha too easy. Now I have a mystery couple holding rifles! Not so easy.
    You have a good train of thought. Without making assumptions we wouldn't get anywhere. I agree about the light, to me it looks like there is maybe a river BEHIND both of them. Unless my eyes deceive me hahaha~

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    1. Finding a stranger with the same photo you have conjures up the Twilight Zone theme song.

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    2. Hahaha!! True fact. Whodathunk??

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  5. Darn the hats and mustache! It would be so much easier without those. I think the men have similar features and size. I think the mouth and chin of the women look similar, but it's difficult to tell the rest. Good luck! I love a good photo mystery!

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    1. I thought the same thing about those hats!

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  6. The ears on the two pix of the man seem to look much the same, and the dimpled chin makes even more sense that the two pix are of the same man. As for the two pix of the woman - I do see some similarity in her mouth and chin. As you say, however, it's hard to be sure & yet the two pix of the man would convince me that's the Mr.& Mrs. Beaver you're looking for. Good sleuthing! :)

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    1. Those were the features I noticed as well.

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  7. Detective mysteries always start with good questions, and I think you are on the right track with some good ones. Instead of census records though, the old city directories are a great way to check neighbors.
    The man with the mustache and the woman with the feathered hat are studio photos from 1890s or early 1900, while the people on the river shore were taken in a photo format from 1920s. Likewise his jodpurs are a 1920s 30s fashion. Could the name be misspelled? They don't look like husband and wife to me.

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    1. I don't see any directories online, but you're right. These people could have lived nearby between the census years.

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  8. What a mystery you have on your hands - hope you're able to solve it!

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