Saturday, January 4, 2020

Sepia Saturday: BFF

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

The minute I saw this week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt, I thought of this photo:
Kathleen Sigler Rinney
Kathleen Sigler Rinney
This is Kathleen Sigler Rinney, my maternal grandmother’s best friend when they were girls growing up in the Shenandoah Valley. It is a bit of a puzzle as to how Grandma and Kathleen were childhood friends. Kathleen was the daughter of Chester and Mary Alice Sigler of Luray, quite a few miles from Shenandoah. It would have been inconvenient for her to attend school with my grandmother.

Perhaps Kathleen spent time with her grandparents or other relatives who lived closer to Shenandoah. If so, that might be where Grandma saw Kathleen’s grandmother. The story my grandmother always used to tell was that Kathleen’s grandmother was Black; she always wore a large bonnet, probably hiding her hair. The family apparently passed for White. That would explain why I cannot find any evidence of a Black, “Colored,” or Mulatto grandparent anywhere in Kathleen’s family tree. If any of the Siglers were actually NOT White, they did not claim it in a census.

Kathleen’s father was a grocery salesman, so it’s possible he sold to my grandparents who ran a store on Sixth Street in Shenandoah. But would Kathleen have been her father’s sidekick on those sales runs? I rather doubt it.

At any rate, they were friends. When Kathleen married Edward Aulis Rinney in 1928, she moved to Washington D.C. Edward was a native of Finland but had been in the United States since 1914. Like their father, Edward and his brothers were all carpenters. I wonder if they were “finish carpenters” or just “Finnish carpenters.” Yes, folks, I’m here through the weekend. 

About 1934, Edward and Kathleen moved to Takoma Park, Maryland. For a time Kathleen was a clerk for a department store. According to city directories, she was an authorizer for Woodward & Lothrop, a chain headquartered in Washington D.C. Later she became a supervisor at the store. What she authorized and whom she supervised, I have no idea. But she formed a tight circle of friends among her coworkers.
Kathleen is 4th one in
At some point Kathleen and Edward returned to Luray, maybe in their retirement years. They are buried in the Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Luray, Virginia.
on Findagrave
photo courtesy JAC
Keep smiling and visit my friends at Sepia Saturday.

© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Got to sometimes joke with all the research you do and the dead ends you encounter, so we'll forgive your "finish carpenters/Finnish carpenters" joke, LOL. 12 miles now would have been nothing compared to traveling that distance way back then. Beautiful woman she was!


  2. Fantastic job matching these week's theme and the hairstyle. Kathleen lived to a great age.

  3. That hairstyle must have been really popular at one time.

  4. I like your theory on your grandmother's best friend, Kathleen. I had out-of-town friends as a child who I regularly connected with on visits to my grandmother -- and corresponded with in between. Great match to the prompt and nice research on Kathleen's later years.

  5. Sometimes I find teens attending high school in a distant town while living with relatives or boarding with people. Particularly those in a rural area with no school transportation and bad roads in winter time did this.

  6. Very good! A perfect match. And nice to have you back. Don't be a stranger.

  7. What a great find...a beautiful young woman, and knowing that she was your grandmother's friend, though no idea how they met. At least you were able to follow her life a bit after she married. I dare say your grandmother probably didn't have any contact with her after she moved, but letters to best friends might have been shared. There are a lot of suppositions I could make. But for now, thanks for giving this interesting story. Oh, is your grandmother in that group photo by any chance?

  8. A perfect match to the prompt! Love the finish carpenters/Finnish carpenters funny. Sometimes you just gotta let loose! :)