Friday, 10 August 2012

Who’s Who?

Click on the tree to check out the original web page in larger size

I got caught up in the family tree again this week (my own, not Donald Duck’s!), trying to sort out who is who… Visit recent posts in my blog Greetings from the Past if you’re interested in details. Or just keep on reading here.

I have quite a large collection now of old family photos from dad’s side of the family from the first half of the 1900s (not to mention my own lifetime). Some are multiple copies of the same photos though. The problem is that whether they were put into albums or frames or just kept in various boxes or envelopes, there are very few notes to tell who is who, or when and where. Add to this that family members often share some similar face features, and that my p.grandmother (born 1900) had eight siblings and half-siblings born between 1866 and 1902… A lot of guesswork involved!

A few years ago, before dad’s memory began to seriously fail him, I sat down with him a couple of times and went through one collection of old photos (which had belonged to one of grandma’s sisters, and which was already in my possession). Those I then put in an album together with the information I had. Which has been helpful. But… (you know there was a But coming, didn’t you?)…

… There is only one photo in which I am positive that both my grandmother’s two older brothers, Carl and Gustaf, who lived on the farm in the late 1920s, appear together. The question is: Who is who? I think even dad was not sure (after all, one of them died before dad was even born) or else I got it wrong when I wrote it down.

Recently at the House I found a portrait of one of them from back in his youth, though. And there was no doubt which brother and approximately when it was taken, because it was a studio portrait stamped Port Allegany, Pa; and it was Gustaf who emigrated and lived nine years in America in his youth.

Gustaf-2    Gustaf Ekman USA-001-240px   Carl E ca 1928

Then when I compared that to photos from the late 1920s… it dawned on me that the man I had taken to be Carl (left) must be Gustaf, and the other way round.

So I have to reboot my brain… and rename some digital photos.

What finally convinced me was the photo below, which I can positively date to after Carl’s death (1928) because in the background is the house that my grandparents built in 1930:


My grandmother Sally is the one in the hat. Her mother Selma in the middle. To the right Sally’s younger brother Nils and his wife /fiancée. Sitting on the ground is their sister Hildur, and her husband /fiancé is the man standing to the left of Sally. Carl Gustaf sitting to the left, and now the only thing bothering me is who is that man bottom right, I don’t think he is family at all! My grandfather was behind the camera, I think.

(Sally, Nils and Hildur all got married in 1930. I may have the dates somewhere but never mind. They were either newly wed or soon to be married when this photo was taken.)


  1. I have had a go at identifying People in old group pics with my mum's help. I don't think I'd be much help to anyone myself - I sometimes look at my OWN old photos and can't recall who is who! I admit that is usually where friends and their kids are pictured though

  2. It's rather fun to look at old photos. I started trying to organize my family's photos earlier this year. Until, like you, I got totally confused and a bit overwhelmed. Maybe I'll get back to it this winter. There are some very strong resemblances between the brothers in my grandfather's family, but fortunately, I knew most of them when they were older, and can pick them out. But it's fun, and I hope that one day my granddaughter will enjoy knowing who some of her ancestors were.

  3. we have many old photos that no one knows who is who, i don't have them, we let my niece that loves all things history have all of them. she keeps everything and never gets rid of anything at all, so they are safe with her. and now all the people who knew the photos are deceased so we will never know.

  4. How interesting :) I have some old photos from my grandparents where I don't have a clue who's who. Would've been nice to know though. Enjoy your weekend.

  5. My family tree drives me crazy, I so wish I'd asked my parents more questions.

  6. I leave all that to CJ. The family tree interest seems to have been taken up by my son Gaz and CJ's daughter Helen so it's in safe hands for the next generation.

  7. I just love the Donald Duck tree.

    Helen is busy asking me every question she can think of about the family because her husband's relatives are nearly all dead and he has loads of unidentifiable photos which are really frustrating them.

    1. That's good that Helen is taking an interest while you are still around to answer questions.


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