Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Dress

This is the dress made for Ethel Ryan for her marriage to Ellis Downing on January 19, 1910, at the Lincoln Christian Church. Check out that waist - 18 inches.

In 1910, as told in an earlier post, Ethel, her two older sisters and her mother were pregnant. Ethel's sister Cora had made the dress. When Cora's daughter was born she cut up the dress to make baby dresses for her daughter. Ethel was not thrilled. Cora said Ethel would not be needing a wedding dress again so what was the big deal. It always rankled but the two remained close until Cora's death less than 14 months before Ethel's.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How Did You Meet Grandpa?

Sunday, April 14, 1907, was Ethel Ryan's 15th birthday. Although not a member, she went to the dedication of the new Mt. Pulaski Christian Church building with her friend. There was a social. Also at the event was Ellis Downing whose minister ancestors and their family founded several of the Methodist Churches in Logan County and across central Illinois. Ellis enjoyed music and dancing, which the Methodist Church in 1907 did not, so he and his brother were attending the Christian Church. The couple met that day.

Ellis was the second of the four sons of William Nelson and Eliza Sciota Harding Downing, our Lida of prior posts. Ellis' father, who farmed land his family originally settled, had died of typhoid in 1903.

Ethel was the third daughter of Edward Daniel and Lillie Margaret Wood Ryan [see "A Family Affair"]. Teddie was a bricklayer whose ancestors came from Ireland in the 1830s. Both of Lillie's parents were descendants of Abraham Lucas. To be kind, Teddie liked his drink. The families did not know each other, certainly were not in the same social or economic circles. Most would have said the couple had nothing in common.

Ellis' older brother Clarence was dating Lena Drake. Her stepfather was Charles Brooker. The Brookers lived half a mile west of the Downing household. The families were friends and the couple seemed well suited.

Eventually the talk to turned to marriage and it seemed natural to have a double wedding. Lena could afford a wedding. Ethel could not. In order to have the double wedding Ellis paid for Ethel's dress. The couples, joined by their mothers, went by horse and buggy to Lincoln on January 19, 1910, where they were married at the Lincoln Christian Church. Both couples settled down to farming.

Ellis and Ethel had five children. She died on January 8, 1975, 11 days short of the couple's 65th wedding anniversary. Ellis wrote his family story to be placed in the cornerstone of the new sanctuary of the Mt Pulaski Christian Church, starting with the story of their meeting in 1907. He witnessed the dedication of that new sanctuary in 1977 and died on June 28, 1978.

Clarence and Lena had one son, Darwin. They eventually divorced. One September day in 1942 Clarence showed up at Ellis and Ethel's' home and said he felt ill. They put him to bed and called the doctor but Clarence died on September 28, 1942. Lena died in October of 1985.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Identifying Photos Revisited

I got involved in revising my file system, going to Network Attached Storage and installing Windows 7. The last required a clean install and a reinstall of all programs. Thus I downloaded the last version of Picasa which is 3.6. I turned it loose on my pictures in their new location. This time I was able to do with an unattended laptop that I didn't need for the day so it was allowed to do its work uninterrupted.

The latest version seems faster and also seems more adept at facial recognition. It has identified nearly 7,000 faces and identified about 100 people who are in multiple pictures. It has found the younger version of people I only knew as old and, upon inspection, has been right most of the time. It thinks at times my sister might be me and makes other interesting family connections, my niece in a close up and my grandfather for example. I don't see the resemblance but it must be there.

Some of those 7,000 faces are people who happened to be in the picture, maybe in the background. You can tell Picasa to ignore those. Some are part of historical group pictures I own but cannot identify. Why my grandmother had them if there are no relatives in them escapes me so I continue to look.

I have been able to identify about 700 of the 7,000. Some are relatives I never met, knew or even heard of. Some are children of friends of my mother or grandparents that I never knew. When I have a rough time frame and perhaps a last name and location I have posted the information to boards and lists, so far without success.

I have enlisted extended family in identifying the pictures. I don't understand why people get possessive about pictures. Scan them, share with all, get help with the identification. I'm not one who has to own the original but even if you feel you must you can still scan them and share.

We say we should have ask these questions, identified these pictures, etc. when the older generations were still here and yet we aren't doing it for future generations.

I'll get off the soapbox now but considering making scanning and identifying your photos, old and newer, a New Year's resolution.