Saturday, May 9, 2020

Sepia Saturday: Suits and Lawsuits

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a photo of two well-dressed young men. Several family photos passed down to me show that my great-grandparents and their sisters and brothers valued formal portraits. Oh, I understand why they wanted pictures of their children, but some groupings just seem odd.

For example, here is my grandfather Orvin Davis with his cousin Raymond Clift. Both had brothers and sisters, yet it’s just the two of them. Why were the others not included? I want to know.

Orvin Davis and Unknown
Orvin standing
Orvin Davis and Raymond Clift
Orvin Davis and Raymond Clift
Here is another of my grandfather with someone whose identity is unknown. Judging by the fullness of his lips, this young man could be Raymond’s brother Leonard but he does not look enough like earlier photos of Leonard for me to say conclusively. Possibly it is a cousin from “the other side of the family,” who left few photos behind. Again I ask why THESE 2 sat for a portrait.

One duo that I find particularly interesting is my grandfather’s brother Millard Davis with the HUSBAND of their cousin Pearl Sullivan: Clyde Strole. If they were together in a candid photo, I would think nothing of it, but a FORMAL portrait begs the question “Why?” Apparently they were very good friends.
Clyde Strole and Millard Davis
L to R: Clyde Strole and Millard Davis

For this blog, I realized I needed more information on Clyde beyond the birth-marriage-death dates, so I entered his name in the Search box at NewspaperArchive. I was shocked to read this:
from Harrisonburg Daily News Record 11 Jan 1933

Wow - here is a story I never heard! Could it be true? Or was he falsely accused?

There was no follow-up. Or at least I thought there was none. Surely the newspaper and readers wanted to know the outcome. After all, Clyde had married into a well-known, well-connected and much-loved family in Shenandoah.

I then tried searching just the word “assault” with the date range of January 1, 1933-February 28, 1933. I found an article. The quality is so poor that I can understand why the name was not recognizable in the Search.

from Harrisonburg Daily News Record 10 Feb 1933


Luray, Feb 9 (AP) - After two hours’ deliberation the jury trying Clyde Strole, Norfolk and Western railroad conductor, on a charge of criminally assaulting a young Shenandoah girl, reported to the court it could not agree on a verdict.
     Strole based his defense on an alibi.
     The prosecution contended that the alleged crime was committed at the girl’s home near the Norfolk and Western yards.
     Although the evidence was given behind closed doors, the public was admitted for the argument. 

So there it is – a hung jury. I still do not know whether there was another trial that exonerated him or sent him to jail.

If you want to see more old photos, please visit the well-dressed bloggers at Sepia Saturday.

© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved. 


  1. The photos are great, but wow! The story about Clyde Strole is a story worth pursuing. You really need to do a follow up on this one.

  2. What an interesting story. I hope you can find more information.

  3. Wow, what an interesting story! A cliffhanger almost! Interesting too with the pictures of who were grouped together. A bit odd but maybe a fad at the time?


  4. I just love newspapers. They provide so many interesting details, although I never seem to feel satisfied that I know enough. There's always more to the story.

  5. Assault! Wow. That's a Sepia Saturday surprise.

  6. That was a diversion I’m sure you weren’t expecting! I wonder what happened afterwards. Maybe the photos were taken in a club somewhere, or if they were perhaps members of a society together. We’re they of an age to be going off to war? I have photos where they’d signed up at the same time. Why??? The great question behind genealogy.

  7. Wow, you never know what you will find when you start searching those old newspapers. When you started with the formal suit-and-tie photos, I was not expecting it would lead to a trial. Hopefully, continued research will turn up more on the assault case. Would be interesting to see the court records.

  8. I'd say that was a surprise, Wendy. A grown man assaulting a 14 year old girl. Shocking! Who was this man? What did the case do to his family?

  9. What a surprise to find these two articles, Wendy! Good sleuthing. And those great formal portraits do cause one to wonder why they were taken.

  10. Interesting photos with a mysterious story. A good paring for an entertaining post.

  11. I am always amazed at what we see in photos, which are just a moment in time when people were captured in their lives...and formal portraits would be extremely rare that there wasn't a good connection between the participants! At least my opinion. And then that news story! Wow1

  12. Nice photos of those handsome gents. It makes you wonder why those groupings.

  13. Nicely done with suitable photos and a dark mystery as well. It was clever to use a different word for your search. I often get frustrated when I know there must be a newspaper report if I could only find it. Then I remember that the archive uses a computer algorithm that may be magical but it still sometimes misses smudged newspaper ink. So a new search term can help, but at times I just go through the paper's other editions using the old-fashioned eyeball method.

  14. We never know what we will find when we start digging in the family history. Interesting and great photos.