Category Archives: Photo Detective

150-Year-Old Photo Card Yields an Old-Yet-New Face in the Family

At some point in the long journey of family history research, it seems a given that you will likely never know what your earliest ancestors looked like. Through the donations of others, I’ve been blessed to discover photos of my Hanneman great-great grandparents. I never thought I’d see a photograph of Philipp Treutel, my great-great grandfather who died in 1891. Now, through the kindness of a stranger from Ohio, that has all changed.

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Through an incredible set of circumstances, earlier this week I received a 2.5-by-4-inch photo card labeled “Phillip Treutel.” In my research, I’ve never encountered another Philipp Treutel from the 1800s, so this very much got my attention. Philipp Treutel is my great-great grandfather, via my grandmother, Ruby V. (Treutel) Hanneman. As documented elsewhere on this site, Philipp came to America in 1854 from Königstädten, Germany, and settled in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The photo image was almost ghosted it was so light. The pigments on the card stock had flaked away and faded, but the face was still visible.

There were two things I immediately wanted to do. One was to scan the image and see if I could darken the pigments and bring out more facial detail. The other was to investigate the photography studio, based on the photographer’s stamp on the back side. To accomplish the first goal, I ran the digital photo through several software programs and experimented with different tonal adjustments, filters and special effects. Many were useless or did little more than amplify the photo’s defects. But a few did improve the image, bringing out just enough detail to see his face better.

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The stages of digital editing show how more detail was brought from the original scan.

I then turned to the photographer, listed on the back as Bankes Gallery of Photographic Art in Little Rock, Arkansas. The photo was printed on what was called a carte de visite, or visiting card. These affordable, pocket-size calling cards were popular in the Civil War era. Thomas W. Bankes, owner of the photo studio, was a Civil War photographer who initially was based in Helena, Arkansas, documenting many of the gunboats along the Mississippi River. He photographed the overloaded steamboat SS Sultana the day before it sank, killing as many as 1,800 people, including Union soldiers returning home from the war.

In late 1863, Bankes moved his studio to Little Rock. He continued to photograph many Union soldiers during the federal occupation of the city in the latter part of the Civil War. This begged the question: what was Philipp Treutel doing in Little Rock? Was it during the Civil War or years after? Bankes operated a studio in the city well into the 1880s. Based on the carte de visite style of photo, it is a reasonable bet that Philipp’s photo was taken between 1864 and the late 1870s.

There are a couple possible explanations for Philipp being in Arkansas. Perhaps he was there to meet up with his younger brother, Sebastian Treutel, a Union soldier from Wisconsin who was discharged from the war with a disability in August 1863. We don’t know if Sebastian was ever sent to Little Rock, or when he returned to Wisconsin after his discharge. We don’t believe Philipp Treutel served in the Civil War, since his name does not appear in any of the state or federal veterans databases. Two of his brothers, Sebastian and Henry, both served with the 26th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. Sebastian served in Company A, the “Flying Rangers,” and Henry was a member of  Company G, the “Washington County Rifles.”

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Thomas W. Bankes, who photographed Philipp Treutel, also took this famous picture of the SS Sultana in April 1865. The photo was taken just a day before the steamer sunk, killing as many as 1,800 people. (Library of Congress photo)

Perhaps Philipp was visiting another brother, Peter Treutel, whom we believe settled in Louisiana or Alabama after the family arrived in America. We know almost nothing about Peter. He was born on May 14, 1837 and baptized on May 17 at the Lutheran church in Königstädten, a village south of Russelsheim, Germany. A scrapbook kept by Emma (Treutel) Carlin, Philipp’s granddaughter, says Peter Treutel settled “in the South.” So far we have no documentary evidence of this, although we have records of a man we believe to be his son living near Mobile, Alabama.

Civil War records list a Confederate soldier named Pierre Treutel, who served with the Sappers and Miners. It’s unclear if this could be our Peter. Pierre Treutel enlisted in 1861 in Louisiana. Sappers built tunnels and miners laid explosives. According to Confederate military records found at Fold3.com, Pierre Treutel was a sapper in Captain J.V. Gallimard’s company of sappers and miners. Even if Pierre is the same person as Peter, it seems unlikely that Philipp Treutel would visit his younger brother during this time. As a Confederate soldier, Peter would have been subject to capture by Union forces in Arkansas. If Peter was a Confederate soldier, it could explain why the Treutel family in Wisconsin did not stay in touch with the Treutels of the South.

What do we know about Philipp Treutel? He was born Johann Philipp Treutel on August 7, 1833 and baptized on August 9 in the Lutheran church at Königstädten, Germany. He had a twin born the same day, although the twin was baptized a day earlier than Philipp. This most likely means the twin died on August 8, 1833. Church records don’t list a first name for the twin, only “Treutel.” Their parents were Johann Adam Treutel and the former Elizabeth Katharina Geier. In July 1854, Adam and Katharina left Germany for America with at least several of their children. It appears that some of the Treutel boys left Germany for America between 1849 and 1852. Shortly after arriving in Wisconsin, Philipp settled in the village of Mukwonago, where he worked as a blacksmith. By 1860, he had married Henrietta Krosch and they had their first child, Adeline Barbara.

At some points during and just after the Civil War years, Philipp lived and worked as a blacksmith in downtown Milwaukee. The 1863 Milwaukee city directory shows Philipp living and working at the southwest corner of Fifth and Prairie in Milwaukee. The 1867 Milwaukee directory shows him working as a blacksmith and living at 517 Cherry, right next door to his brother Henry. It is possible the Treutel family stayed in Mukwonago and Philipp shuttled back and forth, working in blacksmith shops in Milwaukee and Mukwonago.

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The Daily Milwaukee Sentinel in July 1863 published Philipp’s name among Civil War enrollees from Milwaukee.

While we don’t know of any official evidence Philipp was a soldier during the Civil War, the July 22, 1863 issue of the Daily Milwaukee Sentinel lists Philipp as a Civil War enrollee in “Class One” from Milwaukee’s Second Ward. His name appears along with his brothers Sebastian and Henry. It’s unclear what the listing means, since Sebastian and Henry were already fighting in the South with the 26th Wisconsin. It might have merely been a draft listing. More research will be needed, since this provides at least a hint that Philipp might have been involved in the war.

Philipp and Henrietta Treutel raised seven children: Adeline (1859), Lisetta (1861), Henry (1864), Charles (1869), Oscar (1874), Emma (1877) and Walter (1879). The family lived in the village of Mukwonago, where Philipp plied his trade as a blacksmith. His shop is found on the 1873 map of Mukwonago, located along the north side of what is now called Plank Road, just east of Highway 83. The family at some point moved from Mukwonago to the town of Genesee, near the hamlet of North Prairie in Waukesha County.

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Philipp Treutel’s blacksmith shop was located on what is now called Plank Road in the village of Mukwonago.

We have little documentary evidence of their time in Genesee. The 1890-91 Waukesha city directory lists him as “P.O. North Prairie.” Philipp died there on June 15, 1891 from “la grippe,” which is what they often called influenza at that time. His brief death notice in the June 25, 1891 issue of the Waukesha Freeman was listed under Genesee Depot, which is northeast of North Prairie. The newspaper misspelled his name as “Mr. Tradel,” while a nearby condolence  notice under the town of Genesee said, “In the death of Trendall we have lost a good neighbor.” Is it too late to request a correction?

Philipp’s youngest child, Walter (1879-1948), is the father of our own Ruby Viola (Treutel) Hanneman. I placed the enhanced photo of Philipp Treutel next to one of Walter and noticed a strong resemblance.

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Discovery of Philipp’s photo is a big development for Treutel family history. Our source for the photograph said she purchased the photo card at an estate sale in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Right now we’re examining other photos in her collection to determine if any show the Treutels or their relatives from Waukesha County. Stay tuned.

©2017 The Hanneman Archive

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Philipp Treutel’s monument at North Prairie Cemetery in Waukesha County.

 

Photo Detective: Baby Russell Robert Cole

Sometimes the smallest details can result in a breakthrough discovery. Such was the case in identifying the adorable little face of an unknown baby in our photo archive. Many times I passed over the photo of the tyke leaning on a small wooden chair. His face was distinctive. He looked, well, familiar. Who was he?

During a recent perusal of the photo library, I had an overwhelming sense that I’d seen this baby before. He had facial features similar to members of the Harry V. Cole family of Nekoosa, Wisconsin. Harry and Anna Cole were my father’s great uncle and aunt. Their daughter Gladys was an attendant in my grandparents wedding in 1925. Dad spoke often of the Hanneman family visits to the Coles in Nekoosa, especially of the rousing games of sheepshead played between my Grandpa Carl and Harry Cole. I recalled a Cole family portrait published in a book somewhere, and this baby looked like the one in the book.

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This photo from the collection of Bonnie (Treutel) Young shows a toddler of similar age to the one in the History of Wood County book.

After rummaging around, I found a PDF copy of History of Wood County, Wisconsin, a mammoth 1,000-page tome published in 1923 by H.C. Cooper Jr. & Company. There it was on Page 551, Harry and Anna Cole with four children. Wow, the baby looked so similar to the one in my scanned photograph. As I stared at the book page (which was pixelated and poor quality due to the extreme file compression of the PDF), it dawned on me that not only was it the same baby, it was the exact same photo! Except there was no wooden chair and no grass in the background.

Now why would the book publisher cut the baby from another photo and superimpose him onto the family portrait? Obviously, there was a story behind it. So I dove into my Family Tree Maker software to see what I could learn about the Coles and their children. Among the Cole progeny were a boy named Russell Robert and a slightly younger boy named Robert Russell. This was already confusing. Russell Robert was born in 1920 and died in January 1922. The book History of Wood County (Page 550) mentioned that Russell was the youngest Cole child and that he died.

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The hands, face and expression of the baby in the family portrait (top) are identical to the larger photograph with the baby near the chair. It is the same image. Baby Russell was superimposed on the family portrait for the history book because he had recently died.

I dug through the first few pages of the book and saw that it was published in April 1923. That was a little more than a year after Russell died, and six months before Robert was born. So the baby in the photos had to be Russell. Based on all of the evidence, it appeared the book publisher cut an outline of Russell from the photo with the chair and grass, and superimposed it on the family portrait. It is safe to assume the family sat for the portrait not long after baby Russell died.

I ran a search on Newspapers.com and found a short article on Russell’s death from the January 25, 1922 issue of the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:

YOUNG NEKOOSA LAD DIED ON SATURDAY
Russell, the two year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cole of Nekoosa passed away Saturday after a prolonged illness of pneumonia.

Funeral services were held at the home Monday morning, Rev. C.A. O’Neil officiating. Interment was made in Forest Hill cemetery at Wisconsin Rapids. Mr. and Mrs. Cole have the sympathy of the entire community.

The following relatives from out of town attended the funeral: Mrs. M.J. Cole, Fond du Lac; Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Cole, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Treutel, Mr. and Mrs. John Adams, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Goldammer and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ladick of Vesper.

Another photo mystery solved. The creative book production people at the H.C. Cooper Jr. company found a fitting, and convincing, way to memorialize a young life taken too soon.

©2017 The Hanneman Archive

 

Photo Detective: Cowboy Hiram Greene

My Dad’s family made several trips out West, to Arizona and the Dakotas. Sorting out and matching photos with cities has been a constant challenge. A couple of intriguing photos show Dad with a cowboy identified as Hiram Greene. I wondered, was Hiram Greene a famous rodeo rider, a film star or some other celebrity?

My first source of information was the caption on the back of one photo, written by my grandmother, Ruby V. Hanneman. It listed the name “Hiram Greene” and said he was from Billings, Montana. The photo, according to the caption, was taken at Canistota, Minnesota. As it turned out, that caption was problematic in several respects.

Hiram Greene with David D. Hanneman in July 1945.
Hiram Greene with David D. Hanneman on July 14, 1945.

I took a chance by doing a generic search engine query and came up empty. I quickly ruled out the idea that Mr. Greene was a major celebrity. Using databases at Ancestry.com, I was unable to find anyone by that name near Billings, Montana. But I did find what appeared to be a good match right in South Dakota, where the Hanneman family vacationed several times in the 1940s.

Hiram Hoyt Greene was a farmer who lived much of his life around Mitchell, S.D. I ran a quick search and discovered the major tourist attraction in Mitchell is the Mitchell Corn Palace, home to world-famous murals made from corn. That quickly rang a bell with me. I had numerous photos of the Hannemans outside the Corn Palace. This led me to conclude that it was possible that Dad met Hiram Greene on the streets of Mitchell. Especially since there is no Canistota, Minnesota. There is a Canistota, S.D., another city the Hanneman family visited on vacation. Canistota is home to the famous Ortman Chiropractic Clinic. I could find no link between Hiram and Canistota, although it is only 40 miles from Mitchell. I took yet another look through the photo library and found an image of the Ortman Clinic. The building next to it appears to match the brick building that Dad and Mr. Greene are standing near. So it was Canistota after all.

According to the 1940 U.S. Census, Hiram Hoyt Greene was a livestock and grain producer. This made sense. A cattle rancher would certainly dress like a cowboy. Perhaps Dad saw Mr. Greene on the street and wanted to have his photo taken with a real cowboy. I wonder if that had happened to Mr. Greene before? I started out looking for a celebrity, but found a regular, hard-working cattle rancher. It was an even better story, in my opinion.

Hiram Hoyt Greene was born in May 1898. At the time of the World War I draft, he was a farmer in Mitchell, S.D. In May 1920, he married May Luella Moe. The couple had nine children. At various times in his working life, Greene farmed and lived in Mitchell, the Town of Beulah and Mount Vernon, South Dakota. He was hospitalized in November 1958, just a day after celebrating the wedding of one of his sons. He died on November 28, 1958 at age 60.

I learned several key lessons from this photo detective assignment. First, it is always a good idea to write down information on the back of photographs. Or in the case of modern digital images, to embed a caption and keywords in the photo files. But you can’t always trust the information on old photo prints. Sometimes captions are written long after the events shown in the photo. Memories can be jumbled, so it is good to check the information and correct it if necessary.

— This post has been updated with more information.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive

 

Photo Detective: Finding Sammy Kaufman

It was a tiny photograph, not much larger than an oversized postage stamp. It showed two boys, identified on the back as Bob Firlus and Sam Kaufman. Of course I was very familiar with Bob, my Dad’s lifelong friend from Mauston, Wisconsin. But Sam did not ring a bell. However, his presence in my Dad’s photo collection meant that he was a friend and likely a frequent guest at the home of my grandparents on Morris Street in Mauston. I wondered, what became of Sam?

Bob Firlus (at left) and Sam Kaufman, circa 1940.
Bob Firlus (at left) and Sam Kaufman on Morris Street in Mauston, circa 1940.

The photo detective in me kicked into high gear. My first check was with Mr. Firlus, who had some distinct and humorous early memories of Sam:

They had a nice house on Tremont Street. One day Sammy and I walked out to Coon Rock Bluff a few miles west of Mauston. We were near the bluff and Sammy said that he had to take a pee but he asked me not to tell his dad because his dad told him he should not pee outdoors.

Ah, the troubles of youth! What a great story! Bob said he believed Sam had moved to Pennsylvania after leaving Mauston. I next dug out some of my Dad’s yearbooks and found Sam pictured with my Dad’s Mauston Grade School class in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was one of the tallest boys in class, so was usually found in the back row. In the 1939 class photo, he was standing directly to my Dad’s right.

Bob Firlus, Sammy Kaufman and David Hanneman are shown in this early grade school photo.
Bob Firlus, Sammy Kaufman and David Hanneman are shown in this early school photo.

I checked the U.S. Census and military records on Ancestry.com and  found Sam’s father, Albert Ross Kaufman, a doctor at Mauston’s Hess Memorial Clinic. The elder Kaufman’s 1942 draft card showed he was 46 and living with his family at 214 Tremont Street in Mauston. That was fairly close to the Hess clinic, but not so close to the Hanneman house. So what was his connection to that photo taken on Morris Street? I looked up Sam’s mother, Ardis, and discovered her maiden name was Hess. OK, now we’re making progress. Hess was a very prominent name in Mauston, largely due to Dr. James Samuel Hess Sr., a pioneer doctor and founder of the hospital and clinic. Interestingly, Bob Firlus said he had recently thought about Sam and the name Ardis came to mind, although Bob hadn’t recalled that was Sam’s mother’s name.

Turns out that Dr. Ardis (Hess) Kaufman (also a physician) was the daughter of Dr. J.S. Hess Sr. and Maude (Robinson) Hess. She was the sister of Dr. J.S. Hess Jr., who lived directly across the street from the Hannemans. Dr. Sam, as the junior Hess was known, took over for his father at the hospital and clinic. That explained why Sammy was a frequent neighborhood visitor. My grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, worked for Dr. Sam running the pharmacy attached to the Hess clinic. So it made sense that Bob Firlus and my Dad were buddies of Sam Kaufman. I dug into my photo archives and found another shot that appears to show Sam outside the Hess home around 1942.

A tall, thin young man believed to be Sam Kaufman outside the Hess home on Winsor Street.
A tall, thin young man believed to be Sam Kaufman outside the Hess home on Winsor Street.

Now that I had a good sense of Sam’s history in Mauston, I wanted to figure out where he went and what happened in his life. Again, Ancestry.com was a crucial source. I found listings for Dr. Albert R. Kaufman under city directories in New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Based on that, I ran search engine queries and located an obituary for Sam Kaufman. I reacted with sadness, since I always hope in doing this work to find a living person to track down. Sam died in October 2008 of lung cancer. Same cause as my Dad, and about 18 months later. From the obituary, it was clear Sam had lived an exemplary life.

The obituary described Sam’s college education, his longtime service in the U.S. Army, his 1957 marriage to Margaret “Meg” Floyd, and his career switch from salesman to high school teacher. He had a long teaching career at Baldwin High School in suburban Pittsburgh. The couple had two sons, James and Steve. From checking those names with search engines, it appears Steve has had a long career as an assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh.

Even after I finished most of my research, Sam’s name stuck in my head. There was some other clue I was missing. Dad, could you give me some help here? Then it hit me. I vaguely recalled that Sammy accompanied my Dad’s family on one of their vacation trips to the Dakotas. But how to find the photo amidst the thousands in the archive? On this day, I had some help from above. The first archive box I opened had the photo for which I searched. The caption read: “Sammy Kaufman on right, David Hanneman on left.” It was in my Grandma Ruby’s handwriting.

David Hanneman and Sam Kaufman outside the Ortman Clinic in Canistota, S.D., circa 1944.
David Hanneman (left) and Sam Kaufman outside the Ortman Chiropractic Clinic in Canistota, S.D., circa 1944.

It took a few days of work, but with a little effort I went from a tiny photo print with lots of questions to a decent understanding of Sam Kaufman and his life in and beyond Mauston. Well done, Sam, and thank you.

©2014 The Hanneman Archive