Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

That is a huge braid crown! This young lady was identified as Olga Strune or Struve. A site reader suggested Struve as an alternate last name for Martha Strune. Struve is also a known name and so I concur that it is a possible match.

The stain on the face of this card is unfortunate, as it makes sweet Olga look a bit haggard, but if you look closely, she has a lovely, clear face. Her dress is impeccable, beautifully embellished.

By the backmark, you see she was photographed in Koenigsberg, Prussia. Koenigsberg has a sad story. It was part of the Prussian kingdom, then part of Germany, and during World War II it was mostly destroyed by Allied bombs. The Russian government annexed it when they took over parts of Germany after the war and the city was rebuilt as Kaliningrad. Most of the original residents of Koenigsberg that had survived the war were expelled. Germany didn’t want the city during negotiations and the Allies allowed it to be taken over by Russia, which renamed it after a Russian war hero.

The photographer of this image was the Photographie Gottheil & Sohn, L. E. Gottheil, at Münzstrasse 6, Koenigsberg, PR.

An handsome younger man named John Welch. I’m taking a guess that he’s around 20-25 years of age or so in this photo. The photographer is going to give us some more clues to dating the photo.

Schofield Bros, at 30 Main Street, Westerly RI were known to be in business in 1879. The studio appears to have evolved out of the Edwin Schofield and Schofield & Holmes studios, which were in business in the same area beginning in 1866 and disappearing around 1872 – probably merged into the Schofield Bros. There was also a John Schofield photographer in Philadelphia, PA, which as the crow files isn’t all that far from Rhode Island.

So if John Welch was around 20-25 years old in 1879, that would put his birth year around 1855. Well, as it turns out, there are a LOT of John Welches in Rhode Island during the second half of the 19th century. Some were born in Ireland, some born in the US. Almost all of them did not use a middle initial. I did find a John Welch and a John Welch Jr living in Westerly, which is possibly our subject. There were three John Welches born between 1850-1855, two of them in Providence. There were John Welches working in the local mills, one a cotton spinner, another a wool mixer.

Unfortunately, without a middle initial or any other clues to the family, I am unable to further identify *which* John Welch this is.

Today’s photo was identified as Martha Strune. Probably. The last name could be something else. I did find people on old census records named Martha Strune, so it’s probably correct. Martha has a beautiful dress with much embellishment. The bodice appears to be velvet with a satin inset. There’s embroidered trim added along the neck opening and buttons down the front. It is possible this was a national or ethnic costume of some kind. In my reading of vintage fashion magazines, I find there are often patterns to make these types of dresses, so there must have been something of a resurgence of regional costumes. Martha also has a comb on the back of her head and I imagine it was lovely. Her hair is brushed softly to the back and then gathered into a twist of some kind.

The photographer was Atelier Mischewski in Danzig (Poland). The word atelier translates as an artist’s workshop and many photographers used this term to describe their studio. There are several awards noted on the back of the card, dated 1875, 1876 and some others. Note that the card mount is black. I’m leaning toward this being a funeral card.


No reason for the title in French, I just thought this baby looked sweet and small. I think (but am not certain) that there may be a parent hidden under a blanket holding the baby in their lap. That was often done (called Hidden Mothers by many collectors) as a means to have the child sit still and also to calm the fears of anxious parents, I’m sure. They just couldn’t be certain their precious child wouldn’t fall out of the photographer’s chair.

The photo was made by Rank Bro’s out of Van Wert, Ohio.

This photo made by Charles A Saylor casts the subject as looking contemplative. What do you think she was considering? I love her jewelry – earrings, a necklace of multiple chains and a bar pin. She has some kind of frill, like a large bow, on her dress under the necklace & bar pin. She was young, perhaps early twenties when this photo was taken, based on the softness in her face.

Charles A Saylor must have rather prolific as I have other photographs by him. You can click on the category under Photographers over on the side. His City Gallery was located in Reading, PA.

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