Of all my photos of unidentified people, this is probably my favorite. It came to me in a box of photos belonging to my grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker. Since many of the other photos were of her mother and her mother’s sisters and their families, I assume this one is as well. But who is it?
Here is what I know: Helen’s mother, my great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh, immigrated to New York from Ireland in the late 1880s. Her sisters did as well. I know for sure that a brother Denis remained in Ireland. One brother, John Sheehan, might have immigrated to New York but I am not sure.
There are many photos of women who resemble Mary Theresa, but the few photos that are labeled are of children who would be Helen’s cousins. Photos of adults are not labeled, so I cannot tell for sure who is who.
As a result, I can identify NO ONE in this photo.
One problem I am having is determining age in the photo. Is this a set of parents with a son and daughter? Parents with a son and granddaughter? Could it even be a 4-generation photo? The woman resembles Mary Theresa somewhat in body type, but if the photo is from the 19-teens, Mary Theresa and sisters would have been younger looking and probably thinner.
Another problem is determining the place the photo was taken. Since I have seen none of these people in other photos, I considered maybe this was the family left behind in Ireland. However, the architecture of the house does not fit with what homes looked like in Ireland, or at least in photos I have seen. Could this house have been in New York? Massachusetts? Maybe it was taken in Portsmouth, Virginia where Mary Theresa moved following the death in 1905 of her first husband, John Joseph Killeen.
The soldier’s uniform might answer that question, in part, at least. The coat resembles this one identified online as a US army enlisted man’s tunic from 1912. Later uniforms also had buttons on the collar. I looked at World War I uniforms for other countries and am satisfied that this is an American soldier. I can rule out Mary Theresa’s brother and family in Ireland as candidates.
But who should be ruled IN? That is the million dollar question!
Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”
© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.