Friday, January 18, 2013

What do your family photographs tell you about your ancestors' finances?

Four of the nine children of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and Julia L. Moody posed for this photo about 1923. From left are: Wilson Taft Pierce (1910-1983), Velma Moree Pierce (1913-1993), the next boy is not identified but is probably George Carl Pierce (1916-1989), and Beatrice Valara Pierce (1921-1993). The car is most likely that of their father.

The car appears to be a nearly new model, possibly a Ford Model T, but it is hard to tell. Its ownership by Bonie shows that the family was doing well financial. In this time period, many farmers still got along with a horse and wagon for all of their transportation.

Like most farm equipment, the family car had to help pay its way. Bonie often loaded the car up with crates of chickens, rabbits and other critters to sell to the many ethnic and regular grocery stores on Dauphin Street in Downtown Mobile. He also sold goods at the Southern Market, then an open produce market in the courtyard of City Hall.

What do your family photographs tell you about your ancestors' finances? Have you ever found anything surprising?
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  1. I notice also that the older boy is "dressed up" in a tie. I'm trying to recall any of our family photographs from that period with a car. I recall a car in my father's family, but not in my mother's--she lived on a farm. There was an old story about my uncles, as children, riding the cows to school. : ))

  2. Yes, I noticed the tie as well and thought maybe they were all just coming from church. But the other children are not in their Sunday best. One thing about this Pierce family is that they had good clothes for formal occasions.

    The Pierce line is my mother's side of the family. My father's parents never owned a car and never learned to drive. It was a mule and a wagon for them.