Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Today’s photograph is from my family’s collection. It is a cabinet card with three subjects, and on the back is written “Lizzie Papa Herb.” Unfortunately, I don’t know which man is which. Papa would have been my grandfather’s father, making this Albert E Nunn along with his brother Herbert and sister Elizabeth. Based on a later photograph of Papa in which he has a mustache, I’m taking a total guess the gentleman on the right is he. Albert was born in 1871, Herbert in 1869 and Elizabeth in 1868. There were seven brothers and sisters in all with these three being the youngest.

I just love how the crossed legs are at exactly the same angle with the supporting legs also at the same angle. Lizzie and Papa are looking one direction while Herb is looking the other. I suppose it would have looked odd for all three of them to be gazing off in the same direction. Lizzie has a lovely bodice to her dress, with wide lapels and a slightly pursed front that suggests the pigeon breast look. This tells me the photo was made some time in the later 1890s when they were all in their twenties.

The photographer was R. D. Ryerson in Detroit, Minnesota. What? I think I know my geography pretty well, but yes, there once was a Detroit, MN! It was founded in 1871 and up until 1926 was called Detroit; it’s name was changed to Detroit Lakes to distinguish the little burgh from the larger one in Michigan. You can click through here for a brief history of the little town. This actually clears up a tiny bit of confusion in our genealogy, in which I had thought my grandfather had been born in Detroit, MI. At some point pieces of the large family moved again, some to Delaware and others to Virginia, where many Nunn descendants remain today.

UPDATE: As my mother reminded me, depending on which part of the family you talk to, Albert could either be called Papa or Apa. 

10 thoughts on “Lizzie Papa Herb

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    It’s a shame you can’t determine which gent is which! They both look a lot a like even if they are looking somewhere different!


  2. I live just 29 miles from Detroit Lakes..we call it DL and yes it was often confused with Detroit Michigan..so they changed the name. If you ever need any photos of cemeteries etc..just give me a holler! :)


  3. Sometimes Detroit was called Detroit City before the renaming. Ryerson was in business from 1886 to 1896. He died in 1897 and his wife took over for two years 1898 to 1900. :)


    1. Lonnie Bowers says:

      I’m looking for information on John Johnson a photographer in Detroit MN. The following is the info I have on him
      Place of Birth: Vermland, Sweden Date of Birth: September 12, 1874 Gender: Male
      Ethnicity: Swedish-American Studio: Johnson’s Studio Locations:
      Address: Detroit Lakes, Minnesota Dates of operation: 1902
      Decades Worked in Minnesota: 1890s; 1900s; 1910s; 1920s; 1930s; 1940s Notes: Apprenticed at the Ryerson Studio in Detroit Lakes before taking over the
      studio upon Ryerson’s death and changing the name of the studio. info about John Johnson from the Minnesota historical society
      He married my great grandfathers daughter (Annie margauret Stone). My husband is a professional photographer, so it was interesting to find another photographer in the family. I have an old photo that I believe was taken by him at his studio.



  4. The Nunn name is familiar to me. I know some of that family. Perhaps you should email me:)


  5. I just printed out the photos you emailed me. I did some looking at the hair..if you look at The fellow on the right his hair looks like Herberts in the group photo..and the fellow on the left looks like his hair looks like Alberts..in any event it is a great photo:)


  6. Mrs Marvel says:

    I agree with you – Left is Albert, Right is Herb.


  7. Sonja Padgett says:

    I have a photo taken by R. D. Ryerson of Detroit, Minn. taken in the 1890’s of my Grandfather and it has the same chair as your photo.


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