I have a few photos that likely belonged to my paternal great-grandmother Isabella Aitken (Smith) Hocker or her mother Eliza Craig (Bonnington) Smith. Most of them are not labeled, but even the ones that are don’t actually tell me enough to identify the people in them. And, of course, everyone who might know has long since passed away.
For instance. The following photo was labeled “Davie, Aunt Jessie & my Willie.” There was no date or location indicated.
I have no idea who the people in the photo are. When my great-aunt Betty Jean refers to “Aunt Jessie,” I believe she’s referring to Jessie, wife of Lou Orr of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I’ve never been clear on just who they were besides friends of my great-grandmother. I’ve never heard of “Davie.” And “my Willie” could refer to several men.
My great-grandfather was named William Hocker, but neither of the men in the photo is him. Isabella’s father was named William Smith, but he died in 1905 and I have reason to believe this photo was taken in 1914. Isabella also had a brother and a son named William. Her son was not born until 1918 and I don’t know for certain what happened to William Smith Jr. after 1900. He would have been 22 years-old in 1914. Family lore says he enlisted in the Army in World War I under the assumed name “John Norwood” and remained in France after the war.
The mystery deepened a little when I saw this photo.
This photo is labeled “age 17 years, 28th May 1914″ in ink, then as “Uncle Alex” in pencil in a different handwriting. It was taken by “Jas. C. Stevenson” of Bowhill Studio in Cardenden according to the label on the front. The photo was taken in Scotland. The young man does not look like other photos I’ve seen of Isabella’s Uncle Alex, who would have been 39 years old in 1914.
However, it looks a lot like the young man in the previous photo—who I presume to be Davie. So, if I can assume (dangerous, I know) that the photos were taken at the same time and location, then the previous photo was taken in Scotland in 1914. Isabella’s Aunt Margaret (Bonnington) married David Simpson in 1890. If they had a son named David, he might have been the correct age to be this young man. Even if this is true, however, it doesn’t tell me who “Aunt Jessie” or “my Willie” were.
Do either of these photos look familiar? If you can help solve the mystery, please drop me a note. The curiosity is killing me!
UPDATE: I couldn’t stand it. I went to Scotland’s People and searched for children of David and Margaret (Bonnington) Simpson. Their son William Bonnington Simpson was born 28 May 1897 and turned 17 in 1914. So, “Davie” is likely David Simpson, while “my Willie” is David and Margaret’s son William. The handwriting likely belongs to Margaret (Bonnington) Simpson—the “my” to distinguish the boy from her sister Eliza’s son William.
I still don’t know who “Aunt Jessie” is, so if you’re related to the Simpson family and know the answer, please contact me.
Cite This Page:Kris Hocker, "A Photographic Mystery," /genealogy the genealogy & family research site of Kris Hocker, modified 20 Mar 2011 (http://www.krishocker.com/a-photographic-mystery/ : accessed 7 Dec 2013).
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