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It happens every time I open the Williams family photo album.

More dry rot, and more photos falling out. It's to be expected from a photograph album that's soon to be 125 years old.

So I dutifully scan.

And mutter under my breath cuss out loud as I do it.

Because Maxie hardly ever labeled a thing.

I get a work out researching photographers and when they were in operation.

This one is a tintype. Tintypes were produced between 1856-1945.


I'm just guessing this one is not from the 20th century. The owner of the album was my great grandmother, Maxie Leah (Meek) Williams. She put a lot of photos in the album that pre-dated her Christmas gift of 1885. There's a photo of her mother, Mary Emily (Conner) Meek in there that is dated 1873.

Mary Conner married James Alexander Meek on 13 Apr 1856. This tintype is pretty thick and that's probably the reason it tore loose from its paper mooring in the album. Given the relative wealth of the Meeks of Mississippi, and the aprons on the three unnamed women, I am guessing they were hired help for the Meeks - perhaps gifted to James and Mary.

Unless they were nurses...but the nursing uniforms until the 1890s or so had aprons that covered you from your neck to your toes, so you could help in surgery.

I think this one may be Maxie Leah, right before she got engaged to Jo Desha Williams. If that's the case, it was taken around 1883-1885, in Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

Here is a known photo of her for comparison - taken when she was in her 30s.

Baby number 1...

From the information on the back of the photo,

I am narrowing down the range of years the photo was taken from 1890 to 1901. I got all excited at first, thinking maybe this was one of the only known photos of Maxie and Jo's first child, Mildred Imogene Williams. But Mildred was born on 27 Jun 1890 and died 28 Jan 1891, and I think this child looks older than 7 months.

So I am tentatively identifying this as either Cedric Hazen or Paul Meek Williams (born 1892 and 1894, respectively.)

Baby number 2...

Back of the photo...

Same range of years. So this is either Cedric or Paul again.

Don't have a clue about either of these next two. The style is called a cabinet card, and as you might guess, the photo is pasted on heavy card stock.

Scalloped borders, as seen in this one, were popular in the 1890s.


Dawson's was in business at that address from 1883-1894.

They loved cabinet cards. Shinn's Photography Studio was in business at this address in Little Rock from 1895-1907.

C C Cook did business in two Arkansas towns - first at Fort Smith from 1878-1882, then moving to Little Rock from 1883-1886, before moving back to Fort Smith from 1888-1900.

So this photo can be very narrowly dated from 1883-1886.

But I still don't know who she is...unless, it's Maxie.

American boys in large numbers wore knee pants from the 1880s through the beginning of the 20th century. Because the next two photos are not professional photos, I tend to think they were taken somewhere between 1905-1915, when increasingly, families were purchasing Kodak Box Brownie cameras, which were introduced in 1900.

And the boy does not look thrilled to be going along for the ride...

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Dee Burris Blakley

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