Among the various things I have “inherited” from my Aunt Susan, was a frame with two pictures side-by-side. The frame was the kind that stands on a piece of furniture and I imagined my Aunt Susan keeping this on her dresser top or a table near a favorite chair. I don’t know that this was where she kept it, but it seemed like the sort of picture you would place that way. Sadly, I have no good idea who these people were.
When I pulled this picture out of the box of things, I noticed that it wasn’t well-framed, that the pictures were not matted and were touching the glass. So one day I took the frame apart, hoping that the backs of the pictures might tell me something about these two. A photographer’s stamp, a date, or better yet a name written on the back. Anything could be helpful. The two pictures were mounted at the top on cardboard backings, but unfortunately there was nothing to provide any hints about who they were or when or where the pictures were taken. Except there was some mold on the back of the woman’s picture, probably from being pressed into the cardboard and having been in a house in Florida for a long time. I scanned the two individual pictures and then took them down to my local framer who is good about handling old photographs.
He was not able to do anything about the mold and could not promise he could safely remove the picture from the cardboard backing. The man’s picture was not moldy and came off its backing easily. So I ended up having his picture framed separately, although I had planned to re-frame the two together as they had originally been.
The more I looked at the man’s picture the more I was sure that he must be from Aunt Susan’s Salt family. In looking through an album of old pictures I re-found 2 pictures of young men that looked somewhat like this older man. Based on eye color, and the fact that one of them died as a young man, I entertained the possibility that the other is the same as the older man. Luckily at some point my mother had gotten help identifying some of the pictures in the old album and this young man was named: Edward Wilshire Salt, Jr.
So from this, I have developed my own story about the likely identity of these two older people, based on what I know about the Salt family relationships and who my Aunt might have had pictures of. I believe that the man was Edward Wilshire Salt, Jr. and the woman was his second wife, Clemma Day Swope. Edward (who seems to have gone by E.W. at least on official records) was the younger brother of Aunt Susan’s father, so he was her uncle. He had been part of the legal proceeding when Susan’s father was probated insane and committed to the state mental health hospital, acting as protector of the children’s interests, and I expect he continued to take some part in helping his brother’s family after that. Since Susan was only an infant when her father was hospitalized, Edward may well have served as a father figure for her.
If the woman is Clemma, she would have been the only wife of Edward’s that Susan would have really remembered. Edward’s first wife, Clemma’s sister Margaret, had died in 1895 when Susan was barely two years old. Margaret and Edward had two children, who were older than Susan and her brother by 2-9 years. Edward married Clemma 2 years after Margaret died, so Susan was not quite 4 years old. Edward and Clemma moved West sometime between the census in 1900 (where they were found in Tate Township, Clermont county, Ohio) and the one in 1910 (where they were found in Reno, Nevada). Since Edward’s daughter had married and was living in Reno in 1910 as well, it may be that Edward and Clemma moved to Nevada to be closer to his daughter. So, Aunt Susan wouldn’t have seen much of them after their move West, but might well have wanted their pictures where she could see them.
In the end I am left with the question: is the older man Edward W. Salt? (If he is then it seems highly likely that the woman is Clemma Day Swope Salt.) A brief trial of Picasa’s facial recognition suggested that the older man is the same as the younger (named) man. Any thoughts out there?