Help, Please! Trying to Date an Old Photo

Help, Please!

Annie Grover

I’ve found that reviewing some of my old photos has been productive in identifying some of the subjects and returning these original photos to descendants.

This is one of my more annoying pictures because on the back is written “Annie Grover.” The problem is the only Annie Grover I can find wasn’t born until 1872 and, to me, this seems to clearly be a Civil War era photo.

Please confirm this for me. First, the square corners of the photo fit the 1860-1865 time period. Second, the two think gilt lines forming the border also fit the mid 1860s. Third, the full length portrait showcasing the full dress style is very Civil War time frame, as is posing with a chair as a prop. Fourth, Annie’s hair style, parted in the center and pulled tight with the braid or cap or whatever that is on her head is also quite in vogue for the time. In fact, I found a photo of a lady in one of my dating old photos books who had the exact same hair style with the cap(?) and the picture is dated 1865. Lastly, the off-the-shoulder dress seems to be a bit daring for the time and Annie’s apparent age, but there were ladies wearing that style in the 1860s. So, everything about the picture screams Civil War era.

However – I can’t find any Annie Grover born in the 1840s or 1850s who could be this young lady.

I know the Grover family. My cousin, Charles Chadwick, actually first cousin once removed and who passed away in 2006, was the grandson of Elbridge Gerry Chadwick and Margaret Jane Grover from St. George, Knox, Maine.

Margaret Jane Grover was born in November 1845 in St. George. My first thought was that Annie might have been Margaret’s sister and the timing would be a perfect fit. Lo and behold, Margaret only had two brothers, George H., born c1839 and Charles, born in 1843.

I don’t know what happened to George after 1860, when the family had moved north to Calais, but Charles returned to St. George, married, had a family and spent the rest of his life in his birthplace. Charles is the one who had a daughter named Annie Maude born in 1872.

Therefore, if I was two decades off in estimating the date of Annie’s photo, I would have my answer as to who she was. I don’t think I am wrong, though so I need to move back one generation with the thought that Annie Grover was Margaret’s cousin.

George, Charles and Margaret were the children of John Grover, born c1812, probably in Boothbay, Lincoln, Maine and Eunice Barter. There were quite a few Barters living in St. George in 1840 and Eunice was likely related to at least some of them. She died in Calais in 1863.

John Grover, in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses, reported an age consistent with a birth year of 1812, in Maine. John is attributed as a child of John Grover and Elizabeth Lortz in Lincoln County, Maine, which may be correct or not, but there are several John Grovers born in the 1810-1820 time frame living in Maine.

Therefore, I am stymied. However, readers – do you agree that Annie’s picture was taken in the 1860s?

Here’s one more final frustration. Along with Annie’s photo, I have a second picture apparently taken at the same time and place:

Meet young master Walter Grover. I can’t find him anywhere either! Double help!


Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by David Dobson: Review

Disclaimer: I have received a complimentary copy of this and other publications from Genealogical Publishing Company. However, my opinions are my own.

Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by David Dobson is a brand new 2021 publication.

Dr. David Dobson has more than a half century of experience in Scottish genealogy and this 158 page guide offers a lot of information packed into its pages.


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Major Record Sources
Chapter 3: Church and Other Religious Records
Chapter 4: Secondary Sources
Chapter 5: Emigration
Appendix: Family History Societies
Surname Index

Chapter 1: Getting Started provides a brief overview of the history of Scottish surnames, Scottish websites and archives.

Chapter 2: Major Record Sources discusses vital records, divorce records and church registers.

Both chapters are quite short – fewer than ten pages in each.

Chapter 3: Church and Other Religious Records reminds us that not all Scots were members of the Church of Scotland. Various other denominations are profiled with many helpful notes regarding both publications and the span of years that a specific record set contains.

Dobson also discusses approximate years when other denominations were formed in Scotland.

Chapter 4: Secondary Sources is the heart of this book, covering 81 pages of this 158 page book.

I have only one quibble with the title Secondary Sources. Don’t take the chapter name too literally, as not all of the sources described in this chapter are what a researcher would classify as “secondary.”

For example, tax lists are included in this chapter, but, in my opinion, for example, an 1810 Washington County, Kentucky tax list created in that year by the tax collector and that is extant today with a digital image available, is a primary source of proof that a man named Lawrence Thompson owned 200 acres of land there in that year and paid XXX amount of money in tax.

Instead, in this book, I think perhaps that primary records refer to those records which a researcher would first seek out and secondary sources would be those record sets that are sought out later on in a project.

The types of records range form gravestone inscriptions to probate records to many record sets called by unfamiliar names to non-Scots, such as Heritor’s Records and Burgh Records.

There are hundreds of website urls and publications mentioned in this chapter.

I am only a beginner when it comes to Scottish research, but I doubt that Dr. Dobson overlooked many possibilities for research avenues in this chapter.

In fact, I wish I had some idea of the ancestral homes of my handufl of Scottish ancestors, all of whom were in the American colonies in the 1600s. I’d LOVE to be able to jump into these records to try to find them.

Chapter 5: Emigration is another chapter I really liked, as it is divided into sections based on the place where Scots settled – everywhere from Asia to the Caribbean to Ulster to other European countries. Each location section includes suggested publications covering the topic, which is extremely helpful to researchers.

I have to say I honestly LOVE this book and HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone doing Scottish research.

To put it succinctly, David Dobson’s book will tell you everything you need to know about locating and accessing hundreds of different kinds of Scottish records that will help you with your genealogical research, regardless of your expertise level.

My only lament is that I don’t know anything about my own Scots ancestors to take advantage of all these resources!

Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond (ISBN 9780808321134) by Dr. David Dobson can be ordered online for $25.95 from the Genealogical Publishing Company.




49 Summer Street: Families of Frank Nitto and George Bornkessel of Passaic, NJ

There are two more families that lived at 49 Summer Street just a few years before my grandparents bought the house.

49 Summer Street, c1926

George Bornkessel would have slipped through the cracks had it not been for a short blurb in the Passaic Daily News on 1 September 1917 that George Bornkessel had bought the house and would live there “after alterations.” His listings in the 1918 and 1919 Passaic city directories show that he did, indeed, live there.

However, I haven’t found any Bornkessel (or any surname anywhere close to that) buying or selling any Passaic County property so I have no idea when he actually sold the house.

George J. Bornkessel was born on 5 June 1883 in Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey, the son of George Borncastle or Bornkessel and Frances Teickman, both of whom were born in Germany. George had a brother, William. He married Ada Martha Phillips in 1911, also in New Jersey. Ada was born c1886 in Germany.

George applied for a passport for himself on 29 August 1905, but gave no reason why. His occupation was listed as woolen finisher and his father attested to his birth in New Jersey.

After they left Passaic, the family lived in Sandyston Township, Sussex, New Jersey before moving to 20 Peru Road, Clifton, not far from their former home in Passaic.

George Bornkessel died suddenly on 14 December 1932 in Passaic, according to a newspaper notice.  Ada survived him at least until 6 August 1935 when she sailed from Bremen, Germany to Clifton, New Jersey.

They were the parents of one son, also named George, and a daughter, Victoria.


1. George Julius, born 22 June 1913, New Jersey; died 28 February 1991; married (1) Bessie Gibson, 1935, New Jersey (2) Ruth Werner Renneberg (27 December 1917-12 April 2006) (3) Elizabeth Jean (MNU) (1929-2016). Julius, as he was known, was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, serving from World War II until the 1960s.
2. Victoria, born May 1915, New Jersey; died December 1922, Passaic County, New Jersey

George and Ada have descendants today as son George and Ruth, his wife, were the parents of three children – Louise A., George W., and Ruth A.

The last family to live in my childhood home was that of Frank and Jennie (Manla) Nitto. They lived in the house from the time of the 1920 census until the 1923 Passaic city directory. In 1924, my grandparents were listed at 49 Summer Street.

It’s kind of fun knowing that the last residents of my house before my family were an extended family of husband and wife with three children and a fourth born while they lived there, along with grandparents – the same extended family in my case with Nana upstairs and my parents, brother and I living downstairs.

Frank Joseph Nitto was born on 19 March 1890 in Buccino, Italy. The 1920 census gives an arrival date of 1903. Frank married Jennie Manla on 17 October 1909 at Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church in Passaic, New Jersey.

Jennie was also born c1890, but in New York. Her parents, brother and sister lived with Frank and Jennie’s family in 1915 in Passaic, New Jersey.

In 1910, Frank and Jennie were newlyweds living at 262 Hope Avenue in Passaic. Frank was a machinist by trade at that time. Later records describe his trade as coppersmith.

By 1920, when they lived on Summer Street, Carl, aged 9, Michael, aged 3, and Louise, under the age of 1, were in the family. Jennie’s parents, Michael and Lucy Manla, still lived with them. Their son Richard was born while the family lived in the house.

An interesting note is that Jennie, born c1890, gave New York as her birthplace, but her parents reported that they came to the United States in 1895. It’s certainly possible that they came, went back and returned once again, but no birth record comes up in a search of Jennie Manla. She may also have been born in Italy.

Frank Nitto died on 10 May 1978; Jennie passed away on 6 September 1981. Both are buried at Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Upper Montclair, Essex, New Jersey.

This family didn’t appear much in the newspapers, except to note the 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries of Frank and Jennie.

Also, their son Harold became a well-respected Passaic judge.

Frank and Jennie were the parents of six children:


1. Carl F., born September 1911, New Jersey; died 14 March 1985; married Dorothy Levendusky. She was born 17 November 1918; died 4 September 2002. Carl was a lawyer, as were two of his brothers.
2. Edward J., born November 1914, New Jersey; died February 1916, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey
3. Harold Michael, born 27 February 1916, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey; died 10 May 1989; married Jean Spano (1921-18 August 2013) , 25 August 1945, Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey. He was also an attorney.
4. Louise M., born November 1919; died after 1993; unmarried.
5. Richard Daniel, born 1923; died June 2003; married Dorothy Jean Ellenoff, 12 September 1953. He was the third brother to follow a career in law.
6. Robert Thomas; born 1927, New Jersey; died 26 October 2016; married Anne Catherine Hanlon, 223 April 1955, Roselle, Union, New Jersey.

The Nitto family does have descendants living today.

That concludes the history of the families who lived at 49 Summer Street, Passaic, New Jersey before my family owned the house. After the house was sold on 7 December 1963, it appears that the revolving door of renters started up once again. I wish the house was still a well-loved home with owners who loved living in it.