Something for the Oakes folks. This is my grand-aunt, Vera Oakes, and her first husband, Earl Harkness. The photograph appears to be their wedding photo. I remember Vera from my childhood, a diminutive woman whose laugh was a cute little giggle that with a sound at the end like the squeak of a mouse. Vera, born 1893, was the daughter of George H. Oakes and his wife Nettie (Wintersteen) of Adams Co., WI. Earl Harkness apparently died when his and Vera’s only child was still an infant; Vera subsequently married Albert Brubaker and resided in Stillwater, MN. This photo, taken at the Bennett studio in Kilbourn, now Wisconsin Dells, was inscribed on the back to her grandmother Oakes (nee Annie O’Hara).
Most of the old photographs in the family collection are of relatives. It’s just a matter of tracking down the connection. Of course, there have to be exceptions, just to keep it interesting. The young woman in the first photo is identified as Etta Gavon, photo taken 1905. Second, a photo having only the notation “Gavon and wife” but a photographer’s imprint shows Chippewa, Wisconsin as the location. Census to the rescue – in 1900, we find William J. Gavin, his wife Sarah and, voila, daughter Etta age 12. Five years later, she would be 17, which looks about right for her photograph. So, best guess is that the couple are her parents, William J. and Sarah Gavin. So far, so good.
So what’s the problem, you ask? There is absolutely no connection that I can find between the Gavins and any of the family lines. They weren’t related, they weren’t neighbors (didn’t even live in the same part of the state), they have no reason to be in the family photo collection. And yet, there they are. William was born in Wisconsin, his parents born in Ireland. According to other sources, Sarah’s maiden name was Cutsforth; she was born in Wisconsin and her parents were born in England. How did they become acquainted with a family in Adams County and become friendly enough to exchange photographs with them?
Just another unsolved genealogical mystery, but if anyone is looking for photos of these folks, feel free to grab ’em.