Monday, December 29, 2014

Did You Visit Relatives Down on the Farm?

This photo from the late 1940s shows some members of the Pierce family visiting the Faunsdale, Alabama, cattle farm of Don and Hazel Vickers.

From left are Julia Moody Pierce (1886-1965), her son George Carl Pierce (1916-1989) always called Carl, Carl's daughter Carol Ann (b. 1943), her mother and Carl's wife Jeannette Elizabeth Hagen, Carl's father Napoleon Bonaparte "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964), and Don Alva Vickers (1893-1965), husband of Julia and Bonie's daughter Hazel Lee Pierce (1905-1985).

The Pierce kin visited the Vickers about once a year to get a side of beef to put in the freezer back home in Mobile, Alabama.

Did you and your family visit kin down on the farm? What memories do you have of the visits?

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Family Business Tells Changing Story of American Commerce

A steady stream of delivery men to the Reservoir Inn at 4900 Moffett Road in Mobile, Alabama, told the changing story of American commerce.

As companies grew and merged over the years, you could watch local or regional product names change to national brands.

In the above photo, Wilmer Graham, a delivery man for Graham's Dairy, stands beside his truck with Beatrice Valara Pierce (1921-1993). Wilmer and Bea were lifelong friends. This photo was taken in front of the Reservoir Inn, which belonged to Bea's father, N.B. "Bonie" Pierce.

At the time, the Reservoir Inn was an early form of the convenience store that sold gasoline along with convenience food items. It also included a bar, whose patrons often included milk delivery drivers just getting off their shifts early in the mornings.

Note the 8-digit phone number for the dairy painted on the truck. The truck lettering also gives the location of the dairy as Moffat (now spelled Moffett) Road.

Bea is wearing bobby socks and saddle shoes, which became popular in the 1940s. British and American governments rationed silk and nylon during World War II. So women couldn't wear traditional stockings. The British came up with a substitute, a short ankle sock. Young girls and women picked up the British style, calling it the bobby sock after the British slang word for police officers. This style remained popular into the 1950s.

Wilmer is wearing either spats over his shoes or wing-tip shoes.

Note that the ground in front of the Reservoir Inn is unpaved. Later it was paved.

Did your family operate a business? What story does it tell?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Salute: Ralph Poore

Ralph E. Poore during training maneuvers in 1941.
He is holding a Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR,
and is wearing a World War I style helmet. The Army had not
yet issued the "steel pot" helmets used in World War II.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

A young Ralph E. Poore worked at a number of jobs in Depression Era Laurel, Mississippi, in order to survive. He worked at Bush Dairy and a local furniture company. But nothing offered much of a future.

In December 1940, a 22-year-old Ralph enlisted in the U.S. Army. Recruiting officers assigned him to the Headquarters Battery, 29th Field Artillery Battalion, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. He eventually served in a forward observer liaison unit.

Over the next four years, the men of the 4th Division became among the best-trained troops of the U.S. Army. The Army welded the 4th Infantry Division into a powerful, highly mobile offensive force that could protect armored divisions.

As a unit of the 4th Division, the 29th field artillery helped put together the nuts and bolts of a motorized division. Training with General George S. Patton’s 2nd Armored Division, they helped write the manual on U.S. armored warfare.

As sergeant in the liaison unit, Ralph moved with the forward infantry units. When an enemy position blocked the infantrymen’s progress, the forward observers called the target location to the fire direction center. After wiping out one target, the artillery then moved on to the next.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Ralph landed with the early waves the 8th Infantry Regiment combat teams, which the 29th Field Artillery supported, on Utah Beach. Over the next seven months, Ralph stayed on the front lines with the infantry to help bring artillery fire down on the Germans when it was needed.

He fought through the hedgerow country, the breakout of Operation Cobra and passed through Paris on the way to the Siegfried Line. For his heroic actions in saving the lives of three other men in a minefield in the Huertgen Forest, Ralph was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
A restored M7 Priest at the Fort Sill Field Artillery Museum
depicts self-propelled artillery support during the Battle of the Bulge.
The 29th Field Artillery used this type of gun.

When the Germans broke through U.S. lines in December, Ralph and the 29th Field Artillery helped the 4th Division hold the southern shoulder of the Bulge.

Because Ralph had been continuously on the front lines since D-Day, the Army gave him leave back to the States in February 1945. He returned to the front at about the time Germany surrendered.

After the war, Ralph lived for a short time back in Laurel, then re-enlisted in the Army, serving until 1949. He settled in Mobile, Alabama, for the rest of his life, until his untimely death in 1976.

Veterans Day Salute: Alonzo Geiger

Alonzo W. Geiger, photo courtesy of Caroline Geiger Mulican and Kerry Cayten

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

Alonzo Winfield Geiger was a 22-year-old laborer at the Marathon Lumber Co. in Laurel, Mississippi, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1918 for service in World War I.

Alonzo became a private first class with Company C of the 102nd Engineers with the 27th Infantry Division. The 27th Division spent all of the war with the British Fourth Army and the contributions of the Americans in breaking through the Hindenburg Line sometimes have often been overlooked.

The 102nd Engineers arrived at the front in advance of infantry and machine-gun units. Their dangerous job included repairing roads nearly destroyed after three years of shellfire.

In an attack on the Hindenburg Line on Sept. 29, 1918, Maj. Gen. John F. O’Ryan sent three companies of the 102nd Engineers to occupy a reserve position north of Ronssoy. He had run out infantry units to put on the line in the bloody and ferocious battle.

Photo courtesy of Caroline Geiger Mulican and Kerry Cayten
The engineers weren't needed and the war ended for Alonzo and the other men of the 27th Division when they were pulled back for a rest on Oct. 1.

After the war, Alonzo returned to Laurel and opened a gasoline service station on Central Avenue. A hard worker all his life, Alonzo could be found in the station six days a week. Sundays he reserved for church and visiting family.

Veterans Day Salute: John H. Poore

Gondrecourt, France training area

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

After John H. Poore was inducted at Bay Springs, Mississippi, on June 15, 1918, he entered Company A of the 152nd Infantry Regiment. This regiment arrived in Europe on Oct. 5, 1918, and never saw combat. 

It served as a source of replacements for other units. On Nov. 1, John was transferred to Company
B, 325th Infantry Regiment for combat duty.

On Nov. 1, 1918, John moved up to the front lines as part of the 325th Infantry Regiment for the last 11 days of the war. The 325th Infantry waited in reserve as part of the 82nd Infantry Division while three other divisions of First Army’s I Corps attacked along the Meuse River on Nov. 1. Three days later the Germans retreated east of the Meuse.

When American forces captured the heights overlooking the German railroad at Sedan, they assured the
John H. Poore's grave in Union Seminary Baptist Church
Cemetery in Jasper County, Mississippi.
Photo by Larry Bell
of the war. The Germans agreed to an Armistice to begin on Nov. 11, 1918. The war ended without John having fired a shot in anger.

During the five months afterward, John and his 325th comrades waited in France for transport home. There was a shortage of troopships to take them back to the United States.

Six months after the Armistice, John returned to the United States. The Army discharged him in May 1919 and he came home to Jasper County, Mississippi.

Veterans Day Salute: Dick A. Poore

Dick Austin Poore

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

In the late 1930s, Dick A. Poore drove a milk delivery route for Bush Dairy in Laurel, Mississippi. He wore a number of hats at the dairy as would be expected in a family business. Dick operated the electric milking machine, loaded and unloaded the delivery truck and kept an account of his sales.

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Dick must have realized that life eventually would change for him. In late June 1942, about three months after his 22nd birthday, Dick registered for the draft. Soon enough, Uncle Sam called on him.

At 7:30 a.m., Oct. 17, 1942, Dick and 75 other young men lined up at the Laurel bus station for the short trip to Camp Shelby outside of Hattiesburg. At the camp, the draftees went through their first physical exams and were inducted into the Army.

Then recruiters sent Dick and the other men back to Laurel to settle their affairs. On Nov. 2, Dick and the other men again boarded buses for the 45-mile or so trip back to Hattiesburg and into the Army.

At Camp Shelby, the Army gave Dick and the other men only a basic introduction into military life. After less than 12 weeks of training, Dick shipped out for North Africa in March 1943. Around Oran, Algeria, Dick began training to be a part of anti-aircraft artillery radar unit of the Fifth Army.

On Sept. 9, Dick, his comrades and their antiaircraft artillery and support vehicles followed the infantry onto the beaches of Salerno in the first Allied invasion of mainland Europe.

The main job for Dick and the rest of the radar crew was to set up and operate the power plant and
Salerno invasion, Sept. 9, 1943

radar unit vitally needed to fight off repeated enemy air attacks on the men and supplies in the U.S. beachhead.

Leaving the Salerno plain, Dick and his comrades had to fight their way along steep and narrow roads in jagged mountains slashed by ravines and streams. Besides this Naples-Foggia campaign, Dick would take part in the North Apennines and Po Valley campaigns over the next year and a half.

The Army discharged Dick in October 1945. He returned to live in Laurel for awhile before eventually settling in Mobile for the rest of his life.

Veterans Day Salute: James Benford Poore

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

James Benford Poore, a native of Mississippi, served as a landsman (that's what the "LDS" on his grave marker means) in the U.S. Navy during World War I. A landsman was a new recruit with less than three years of experience

James was the son of John Franklin Poore, who served in the 13th Mississippi Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

James is buried in Prescott National Cemetery, Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona.

Veterans Day Salute: Unknown Sailor and Soldier

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

We don't know the names of this sailor and soldier, but the two men were members of either the Hosey, Geiger or Poore families of Jasper and Jones counties, Mississippi.

The uniforms are from the World War I period and so the photo was probably taken between 1917-1919.

The men's uniforms offer a few clues. Sailors called the style of hat worn here the “flat hat.” Civilians called it a “Donald Duck hat” or “pancake hat.” The top of the hat was 12 inches across.

Before 1941, the hat band, called a “talley” displayed the name of the sailor’s ship. In
Example of a flat hat
with the ship name
visible on the talley.
1941, with war under way in Europe, the Navy became concerned with the security of ship movements. So the services replaced the ship name with “U.S. Navy” or “U.S. Coast Guard.”

In this case, unfortunately, a shadow from the bright sunlight hides the name of the sailor’s ship on the talley.

Before the United States entered World War I, the Navy had switched to a smaller, floppier, more practical hat design. When the country entered the war in 1917, the Navy issued the many older flat hats it had in storage until the supply was exhausted.

The white piping on the right shoulder of the sailor indicates that he is in the seaman branch of the Navy. The three white stripes on the sleeve cuff indicate that he is a seaman first class.

The soldier’s uniform has no rank or unit markings. But his leggings tell us a little about him.

French civilians greet advancing American infantrymen
in this 1918 photo. The British-style puttee legging can
clearly be seen.
He appears to be wearing a light-colored canvas legging. This is a sign that he has not yet served in the war in Europe.

Canvas leggings proved impractical in the muddy trenches of Europe. So American troops quickly adopted British-style wool wrap leggings, known as puttees.

Puttees were about 8-12 feet long with 3-5 feet long tie ribbons. A soldier wrapped these around his leg starting from the ankle going all the way up to the knee. The puttees also were closer in color to the olive drab uniform.

So it seems likely that this photo was taken in 1917.

Veterans Day Salute: Donnie Alva Vickers

Part of the 306th Ammunition Train, 81st Infantry Division
Photo from
 the North Carolina State Archives

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

During World War I, Donnie Alva Vickers, a 24-year-old from the farming community of Vashti, Alabama, enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 26, 1918. He eventually became a private first class in Company F of the 306 Ammunition Train of the 81st Infantry Division.

As a member of the ammunition train, Donnie's job was to transport ammo for the artillery and
Donnie Vickers

infantry to the front line area. He and the other men carried the ammo in horse-drawn wagons, trucks or sometimes by a literal train on tracks.

The 81st Infantry Division arrived in the Vosges Mountain region of France in mid-September. Here they had to deal mostly with German trench raids and artillery fire.

In mid-October, the Army moved the division to the American 1st Army area and on Nov. 6 the division entered the front lines near Verdun, east of the Meuse River.

The division attacked German positions on Nov. 8 and ran into heavy enemy machine gun and artillery fire. By midday, the doughboys had pushed the Germans back, but intense enemy fire halted the advance.

Two days later the division troops attacked again, only to be forced back at nightfall by intense enemy artillery fire.

The 81st Division commanders didn't receive word of the armistice that was to being at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 and pushed ahead with an early morning attack. At daybreak, the doughboys went “over the top” and fought their way toward the German trenches.

Then at 11 a.m. the firing stopped. The war was over.

The men of the 81st Division remained in France for five months before being shipped back to the United States. The Army discharged Donnie on May 5, 1919, at Camp Gordon, Georgia.

After the war, Donnie married Hazel Lee Pierce (1905-1985) and the couple moved to Akron, Ohio, where
Donnie worked for the General Tire and Rubber Company. The Vickers eventually left Akron for the Alabama farming community of Faunsdale, not far from where Don grew up. There they owned and managed a 600-acre farm specializing in cattle.

Veterans Day Salute: Ralph B. Pierce

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm again posting my Veterans Day Salutes to my family.

During World War II, Ralph Bailey Pierce (1917-1984) served in the U.S. Army Air Corp, which later became the U.S. Air Force. Today he has grandchildren proudly serving in the armed forces. The following information about his service comes from his daughter Judith Pierce Croxton, who formerly was the director of Business Operations for the 20th Fighter Wing of the U.S. Air Force.

Ralph joined the U.S. Army Air Corp on a Wednesday and he received a draft notice on the following Friday. In August 1941 he left his home in Mobile, Alabama, to travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for two weeks of training. Ralph was stationed at Craig Field, Selma, Alabama, as a supply sergeant. Ralph’s first military paycheck was for $15 after a deduction of $6 for Post Exchange checks.

In the 380th school squadron of 35, Ralph made steady advancements, even to the point of being promoted once a month. He became a staff sergeant in seven months.

There was an added incentive. Ralph could not marry Gay McKeough until he was at least a staff sergeant. On July 1, 1942, Ralph obtained that rank and on October 3, 1942, Ralph and Gay were married in a beautiful wedding in Prichard, Alabama. Gay then joined Ralph and they lived on the air base in Selma.

During the 2 1/2 years that Ralph and Gay lived in Selma, Gay worked on the base keeping cadet and officer flying times. She also served as private secretary to the base operations officer.

In 1944 Ralph received an overseas assignment to the Azores Islands. He was an ordinance supply
officer. While in the Azores, he made the rank of technical sergeant. Gay returned to Saraland and worked for her uncle, Samuel Powe’s Allied Detective Agency and with Family Reserve Insurance Company (later changed to Liberty National).

Ralph returned in 1945 and was discharged from the service after “4 years, 7 months, 26 days and 14
Lagens Field in the Azores in early 1944. U.S. operations
on the Azores during World War II were secret for years.
hours” to quote Ralph. Gay met Ralph in Manchester, New Hampshire, and they both recalled going to a horse race and winning enough money to buy Ralph a new suit, shoes and a hat. All these items were apparently needed.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

All Dressed Up for a Family Photo Around 1930

Julia Lavinia Moody Pierce (1886-1965) (back left) poses with four of her nine children (l. to r.): Raymond Lamont Pierce (1923-1981), Beatrice Valara Pierce (1921-1993), Velma Moree Pierce (1913-1993) and Wilson Taft "W.T" Pierce (1910-1983).

Judging from everyone's apparent ages, this photo was taken around 1930.

Either everyone dressed up to have this picture taken or perhaps the family had just come home from church or from another event. The photo appears to have been taken in front of the Pierce farm house in Wilmer, Alabama.

Did your ancestors have a ritual about dressing up for photos at certain times of the year, such as Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Who is Loretta Pierce?

Loretta Pierce appears in this photo strip. It is not known how she is related to the family of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and Julia L. Moody of Wilmer, Alabama. But she is most likely a niece.

Do you have any information that would help identify Loretta?
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Include Only Some Children in Family Photos?

Wilson Taft "W.T." Pierce (1910-1983), on the left, and his brother Cecil Alvy Pierce (1907-1975) pose together in this studio photo from around 1920, judging by the ages they appear to be.

This tugboat backdrop appears in other Pierce photographs as well.

W.T. and Cecil were sons of  N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia L. Moody (1886-1965)  of Wilmer, Ala.

Bonie and Julia had nine children, seven of them born before 1920.

Why would the couple choose to have a studio photo made of only two of their children? Perhaps it was a special occasion, such as a baptism.

Do you come from a large family? Did your parents have studio photos made of only some of their children at a time? Why?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do You Have a Brother or Sister You Were Close To?

Did you have a brother or sister who you were particularly close to? What made you close?

N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964), on the left above, appears to have been very close to his older brother Cornelius "Neal" Pierce (1874-?), on the right. The two were frequently photographed together.

The brothers may have been close because their mother died giving birth to Bonie. Their father eventually remarried, but family tradition holds that the step mother was harsh and unkind to the young Bonie.

Bonie grew up in Wilmer, Alabama, where he had many relatives, including his grandparents who he eventually moved in with in order to get better treatment.

The date of the photo above isn't known, but the men's attire can help date it. Bonie is wearing a sac suit, waistcoat, thin dark necktie, and high stiff collar. No wedding ring is visible, so this photo was taken before his marriage to Julia L. Moody in 1902.

Neal is also wearing a sac suit, waistcoat, white or light-colored bow tie, and a high stiff collar. There is a watch chain on his vest. Note his large mustache.

The best guess is that this photo was taken around 1900.
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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Time for Back-to-School Essay: 'What Did You Do Over the Summer?'

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer and time for schoolchildren to head back to the classroom. I remember returning to school and being assigned many essays to write "What I did over my summer vacation."

When I was a small child we often drove around the country to visit distant aunts and uncles and see the sights where they lived in Illinois, Ohio, New York and North Carolina. Long before Disney World was built, we drove to Florida tourist spots such as Silver Springs and to visit friends in other places in the Sunshine State. As I got older, we spent summers at Gulf Shores, Alabama, and invited the relatives and friends to visit us.

The two young girls above paused from their summer swimming at Miller's Park long enough to pose for this photo. The girl on the right is Jacqueline Gibson (1928-2003). Jackie, as she was always called, was the daughter of Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977) and Joseph Gibson (1890-1966).

The girl on the left is identified only by her last name of Hagen. The two girls must have been good friends because they are both wearing the same design of swimsuit.

Miller's Park in western Mobile, Alabama, was a popular swimming spot built by the Bienville Water Works. Behind the girls' legs can be seen the letters "ATE" in the word "WATER" of the company's name. Miller's Park was a wooded area with open spaces and picnic tables.

Today, this swim spot is on the property of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. It stopped being used for swimming about 40 years ago.

The girls above would no doubt have some good stories for their summer vacation stories. Their back-to-school essays and mine would make good family history records, had they been preserved.

Have you written about what you did over your summer vacations? Did you keep the essays?
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Taking a Research Break...

I’m taking a break during the summer from regular blogging in order to focus on researching and writing a history of my Dad’s experiences during World War II.

I still will post as I have time or as the mood strikes me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Do You Come From a Large Family?

These two views of the home of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia L. Moody (1886-1965) give you some idea of the size of their house in the Pierce Level area of the farming community of Wilmer, Alabama.

The house no longer stands. Many years after the Pierce family moved out of it, the house itself was moved to another location. A fire later destroyed it.

This house is clearly far smaller than the 2,000-square-foot starter homes that many couples today consider as standard. Yet Bonie and Julia reared nine children in this much smaller house outside Wilmer.

Twenty years separated the birth of the oldest and youngest of the children, so they didn't all live in the house at the same. Still you have to wonder how those who were in the house at the same managed to get along without getting on each other's nerves.

Do you come from a large family? Did you all get along? Did you have to share a bathroom?

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day Salute to My Dad

At about 6:35 a.m. on this morning 70 years ago, my father Ralph E. Poore was hitting Utah Beach with the assault troops of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. He was a 25-year-old sergeant from Laurel, Mississippi.

Although my father landed with the infantry, he was a member of one of three liaison units of the Headquarters Battery of the 29th Field Artillery. Members of the liaison unit acted as forward observers and traveled with the infantry rather than with the firing batteries.

My father survived D-Day and was in nearly continuous combat until February 1945, when he was awarded leave to go home. He returned to Europe the same week Germany surrendered. For his service in the war, my father was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart and other medals.

My dad remained in the Army until 1949 when he returned to civilian life and settled in Mobile, Alabama.

Having survived the horrors of front-line combat in World War II, he died of a heart attack in 1976. He was just 57 years old.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Are Your Family Photos From a Studio or a Home Camera?

N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia Moody Pierce (1886-1965) of Wilmer, Alabama, seem to have frequently taken their children to Mobile for formal portrait photos. Clearly they valued having photos of their family and had the money to pay for studio photographs.

Julia and her son Cecil Alvy Pierce (1907-1975) appear in this series of portraits.

Note the photographer's imprint on the front of the card: Boyle, The Kodak Man, 155 Dauphin St., Mobile, Ala.

Photography was only for professionals or the very rich until George Eastman started a company called Kodak in the 1880s. In 1889, he introduced the first Kodak camera with the slogan, “You push the button and we do the rest,” and began the era of amateur home photography.

Yet not until the 1940s did home photography really become affordable for most families.

What type of photos are in your family collection?

Monday, April 28, 2014

How Important Was the Car to the Lives of Your Ancestors?

One way to tell how important the car was to your ancestors is to see how often they included it in family photos.

In the above photo, Charles Pierce (1934-2008), son of W.T. Pierce (1910-1983) smiles proudly while perched on the hood of his father's car. They appear to be visiting at the Wilmer, Alabama, farm of W.T.'s parents, Napoleon Bonaparte "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964) and Julia Lavinia Moody (1886-1965).

We tend to forget how much the coming of the automobile changed life in rural America. Before cars, any travel to major markets took a lot of time and effort.

Cars were symbols of freedom of all kinds.

No longer did you have to take the time to hitch a horse up to a wagon. You could jump behind the wheel of a car, turn on the ignition and be off. Trips to the local stores could be made faster, providing more free time for having fun.

Cars were easy to operate and reliable. And fast. With speed came excitement.

Is it any wonder that even the old family jalopy often was included in the family photos?

Photographer's imprint on the back of the photo is McGill, Mobile, Alabama, Dec. 20, 1935.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How Much Can You Learn From a Photo?

How much information can you get from a photo? You have to combine what you know with what you see. Look at the above photo as an example.

This photograph may have been snapped after a church service. How can I tell? The sailor is holding a cardboard fan typical of those used while people were seated in the pews on warm Sundays. Certainly the church would not have been air conditioned at this time period. Another sign that they may have just left church is that all of the women are well dressed.

The fan, the white sailor's uniform and the women but one in light-colored, short-sleeve dresses point to it being either spring or summer.

Beatrice Pierce (1921-1993) is fourth from the left and her oldest sister Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977) is next to her, fifth from the left. The names of the others in the photo are not known. Ina Mae married in February 1928, so this photo was taken sometime before then.

The photo may have been taken on one of the unpaved streets of Wilmer, Ala., where the Pierce sisters lived. Or it is possible that the group had driven to the Port City of Mobile and it was taken on one of the city's unpaved streets. A large building can be seen at the end of the street in the background.

Have I missed any clues?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ever Wonder About Those Photos of Children in Sailor Suits?

Dressing little boys as miniature sailors has been popular ever since a 4-year-old Prince Albert appeared in a child’s version of the uniforms worn by the crew of the Royal Yacht in 1846. By the 1870s, parents were dressing both boys and girls in sailor outfits.

Cartoon characters such as Popeye and Donald Duck, who wore sailor suits, gave the fashion another boost
in the 1930s.

In the above photo, a young Raymond Lamont Pierce (1923-1981), son of Mobile County farming parents, poses for his portrait in his fashionable sailor suit and shoes. The photo is probably from the early 1930s.

The photo and clothing are a sign that although Raymond's parents N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and his wife Julia L. Moody may have had to struggle to raise their family, it was a successful struggle in many ways.

Do you have photos of boys and girls from your family's history wearing sailor suits? Does the fashion reveal anything about your ancestors?

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Children's Toys and Play Clothes Can Tell You A Lot About a Family

Brothers Ralph Bailey Pierce (1917-1984) and George Carl Pierce (1916-1989) play in their wagon in the yard of their farm home in Wilmer, Ala. The photo was probably taken sometime in the 1920s.

Does anyone recognize the name on the wagon? Also, note the toy passenger train car. Does anyone familiar with antique toy trains recognize this one?

The boys' clothing, shoes and toys point to a family that had a comfortable, and maybe even a fashionable, lifestyle. Rural life and work may have been hard at times, but there were also times for fun and play.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Always Record the Names of Everyone in a Photo

Here is a good reason to always record the names of everyone in photo, even if you think you'll never forget them. It is also a good idea to note the date of the photo.

Around 1920, students at Wilmer (Alabama) School posed for this photo.

Velma Pierce (1913-1993) is in the second row from the front, third from the left. The boy behind her may be one of her brothers, perhaps Wilson Taft "W.T" Pierce (1910-1983).

The other children are not identified and may never be.
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Weddings a Good Time for Taking Family Photos

Twenty years separated the birth of the oldest and youngest of the nine children of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and Julia L. Moody of Mobile, Alabama. They didn't often get together for a photo. One occasion when they did was the marriage in 1948 of Beatrice V. Pierce to Ralph E. Poore.

From left to right and from youngest to the oldest above are, Raymond Lamont Pierce (1923-1981), Beatrice Valara Pierce (1921-1993), Ralph Bailey Pierce (1917-1984), Velma Moree Pierce (1913-1993), George Carl Pierce (1916-1989) always called Carl, Wilson Taft "W.T" Pierce (1910-1983), Hazel Lee Pierce (1905-1985), Cecil Alvy Pierce (1907-1975), and Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977).

Monday, February 24, 2014

Did Your Family Have a Tradition of Visiting on Sundays?

Did your family have a tradition going visiting on Sundays? That was the case with many of my family members.

Frequent visitors to the Wilmer, Alabama, farm home of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce and Julia L. Moody included Arvis Brown. Arvis appears in the above photo with a woman identified only by her last name of Tanner.

Notice that they were photographed with a field crop behind them, but it is difficult to identify the kind of plants growing there. Also Arvis and the young woman appear to be dressed in their Sunday finery. Perhaps they dropped by the Pierce home for a visit after church. This was a common custom among young people of the time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Who Is That Guy In All the Family Photos?

Ina Mae Pierce (1903-1977), daughter of N. B. "Bonie" Pierce and Julia L. Moody of Wilmer, Alabama, appears in a number of family photos with Clifford York.

She and Clifford appear in the top two of these three photos. The woman in the bottom photo is unidentified. She may be a relative of Ina Mae's or Clifford's, or just one of their friends. These photos were probably taken in the 1920s.

The top photo appears to be the earliest (and the poorest quality) of the photos. The couple may have been teenagers when they posed for this photo, perhaps along the dirt road in front of the family farmhouse.

In the middle photo, Ina Mae and Clifford may be on an outing, perhaps going for a sail on a Mobile Bay boat, as they seem to be posing on a dock in front of a boat. Ina Mae seems rather formally dressed. Clifford either played the ukulele or else hammed it up for the camera with the four-string guitar that belonged to someone else.

Does anyone have more info on Clifford and his family?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Here Is Why You Carefully Record Photo Information

Here is a good reason to carefully record all the information you can about a photo.

This woman who posed with her small patch of flowers for this photo was identified only as Aunt Howell, an aunt of N.B. "Bonie" Pierce (1880-1964).

Here are some things you can record that may prove helpful in your family history research:

Date you record the following information
Photograph owner’s name
Telephone number
About the photo print
  • Condition
  • Type of image
  • Size (Height x Width)
  • Type of mount or paper and thickness
  • Original or copy print
  • Date of copy print
  • Whereabouts of negative

About the photographer
  • Photographer’s name
  • Photographer’s imprint
  • Dates of operation

About the content of the photo
  • Names and birthdates of the people in the photo
  • Location the photograph was taken
  • Props or background
  • Costume description
  • Costume time frame

Other information you may have

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