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.


  1. Was W.T. Pierce Walter. also known as Bunten"
    Was he marreied to Maggie Parker?

  2. Seldon,

    "W.T." stood for Wilson Taft. W.T.'s wife's name was Pearl. I will have to look up her maiden name, but she was not from Wilmer.


  3. It really is fun to see the cars our ancestors had in family photos!

  4. Jana, what is really fun (for those of who think research is fun) is that there used to be a lot more car makers than there are today. Some of them haven't been around for about a hundred years. I often have to find a car club that can help me ID the make and model of a car. Sometimes it gets down to counting the number of bolts holding a wheel onto the axle. I have some photos with cars yet to be identified.

    1. Wow! That's amazing! And I'll bet identifying the make and model of the car really is helpful in determining the date of a photograph.

      I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

      Have a fantastic weekend!

  5. Great photo! I have a similar one in my collection of my grandmother inside the car and her dad standing proudly next to her. They had a 1925 Model T Ford. What Ford did when he made the model T affordable truly changed peoples lives.