Friday, June 24, 2016

My Latest Half-Baked Theory

As I was writing about Hazel Thompson's marriage to Walter Veal in my last post, I happened to remember a photo left to us by Eva Thompson in which two adults were unidentified. The two thoughts suddenly connected in a flashing arc across my brain — oh! so that's who they were!

Upon further examination, I began to think it was just a case of faulty wiring, but I'll tell you my bright idea anyway.

Here's the photo in question:

2016-6-24. EvaT008
(Click on images to enlarge)
Images courtesy of Eldon Harms.

In the front row, we have (left to right): Nancy Thompson; Alta Thompson Dye with an unidentified child on her lap; Minnie Rossow Harms with an unidentified child on her lap; Herman Harms, Sr.; and Eldon Harms. Eldon, born in 1924, looks about six years old here, so we can date the photo to approximately 1930.*

The two in back are unidentified — no, wait! They must be Walter and Hazel (Thompson) Veal!

In another photo taken probably within minutes of the first, Herman Harms, Sr. has taken the place of the unidentified guy in back, and Eva Thompson has taken Herman's place in the front row, with an unidentified baby on her lap.

2016-6-24. EvaT005

In the 1930 Census, taken in April of that year, we find Walter and Hazel Veal in Jefferson County, Indiana, with three children: Lorraine (five years old), Kenneth (three years and five months), and Mary (ten months). So maybe Kenneth and Mary are the children in this second photo. (The unidentified child on Minnie's lap in the first photo might be Norma Harms, who was then about two years old.)

Mystery solved! … or not. Now that I look at that unidentified man, I have to admit he has some resemblance to Walter Dye, Alta's husband. And in the 1930 Census, Walter and Alta Dye had two boys, Robert (two years old) and James (six months), who could account for the two children in the second photo (although the baby on Eva's lap seems to be dressed more in the style of a girl). Furthermore, in 1930 Walter Veal would have been almost 50 years old; could that unidentified man pass for 50? But he could pass for 29, Walter Dye's age.

I should mention also that in looking at these photos, Eldon Harms did not recognize either of the unidentified people.** On the one hand, if Walter and Hazel Thompson Veal were friends of the Harms family, you'd expect him to recognize them; on the other hand, if they only ever visited during his early childhood, then 80-some years later and with weakened eyesight, he might not pick them out of a photo.

The Dye hypothesis still leaves the woman in back unidentified. Let's just say she's the Mystery Woman of Ainsworth.

*A copy of this photo found in another collection had "31" written on the back; it's not clear whether that means 1931.
**That's why they're unidentified, duh.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I bet you're right.