It’s a tiny photograph. Probably 2.75 inches by 1.75 inches. But I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it. This was about two years ago. The photo was part of the archives of my grandparents, Fred & Jean Thomas. It then went to my father, and then to me. There was a note clipped to the photo that had the names of several people. Almost immediately I could tell the note was not correct because there were people in the note who were definitely not in the photo. The photo seemed to be from the late 20’s or early 30’s, judging by the cars in it and the clothing people were wearing. It was clearly a Summer picnic of some kind. There were picnic baskets, and everyone seemed dressed for an outing. There are 23 people in the photo, 14 adults and nine kids. [Click on the photos to enlarge or download]
I sent the photo to everyone in my family I could think of at the time. And the answer I got in each case was, “I don’t recognize anyone in this picture at all.” Dead end. Then, gradually, as the months passed, I started getting other pictures from all corners of the family of various people from that generation. I started to learn the faces of the previous generations of my family. A few months ago, I said to myself, “I think that’s my grandfather in the lower left corner”. He’s seated with his legs apart and with a sort of defiant look on his face. That let me know about when the photo was taken. Sometime between 1928 and 1930, based on my grandfather’s age. I think it’s closer to 1930. Here’s a photo comparing him in the group shot to a photo of my grandfather as an older man.
The next person I felt like I recognized was my grandfather’s “Aunt Anna”, Anna Thomas:
A couple of days ago, I took a look at the photo again, and I noticed that the man in the back next to Anna looked like her husband Bill McBride. The style of hat he is wearing in the photo I have of him is even similar.
One of the boys in the front row looks like my Great Uncle Charles Fogg Thomas. Since Charles is still around (at 89 years old!), I sent him an email and he confirmed that it was indeed him in the photo: “Charles, that does look like me at that time.”
He also identified his brother Horace David Thomas as the boy sitting next to him:
Having tentatively identified these folks, I sent the photo back again to a couple of cousins. My Great-Uncle Charles joined in too: “The woman in the front row with glasses looks like Aunt Claire [Muncy] Thomas.”
He continued: “Maybe Uncle Erwin is in the center and my dad [Frederick Thomas Sr.] to the left of Bill.”
It was reassuring that he said that, because I had definitely come to the conclusion that the two men in question must be brothers. They looked like the same person a few years apart! Once Charles said one was my great-grandfather, I immediately was struck by how much he looked like my father as a younger man. In the side-by-side comparison you can see that the distinctive nose and ears are the same. Another easy identification (once I had another photo of her) was my great-grand aunt Olive “Eva” Bacon, who was the sister of my great-grandmother Delia Bacon, and who took in my grandfather after his mother died.
She’s wearing the same expression and hair-net look in both photos I have of her. I believe the man standing just behind Olive Bacon is her husband Jim Halloran. Although not much of his face is visible, the chin seems to be distinctive. There is some kind of dimple or scar on his right side near the chin that is the same in both photos.
I also believe that the young woman standing by Fred Thomas Sr. is his oldest child Grace Thomas. She would have been about 14 years old in the photo.
Because Robert Erwin Thomas and his wife Claire Muncy are both in the photo, I have to believe their daughter Lois Claire Thomas (1926-1953) would have been there also. She would have been about four years old, and there is only one little girl that age in the photo. I’m guessing it must be her. Unfortunately you can only see the top of her head.