Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past



While digging through the photos at Truly Tattered I found this wonderful example of how CdVs (cartes de visite) were used. The young man pictured wrote a brief note on the back, which says “your friend and classmate, John O. Andrews, State Line (something) June 1867.” The photo was made in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I’m struggling with the possible location of State Line. The abbreviation looks like “Ne,” meaning Nebraska but those types of abbreviations weren’t in use in the 1860s. There is a State Line City, Indiana which is on the opposite side of Indiana from Michigan. There also used to be a town called Stateline in Wisconsin, which was on the border of WI and the Michigan UP. Stateline is now the town of Land O’ Lakes after the town of Donaldson moved over after a fire. There are also at least two towns called State Line in Pennsylvania on the border with Maryland.

Regardless, Mr. Andrews addressed this card to a friend he hoped would remember him. This is the precursor to the school portrait and the trading of wallet sized photos during the final assembly at school that takes place even today.

4 thoughts on “John O. Andrews

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    There’s a State Line outside of Las Vegas! J/K I don’t think much was there 150 years ago. ;)


  2. IntenseGuy says:

    Hmm.. There is a John O Andrews listed as a University of Michigan student in 1886-87 that was born in 1867. He is listed as the class president. Do you suppose the date is his birthdate? I think the “Ne” is “Ill” (Illinois).


  3. usermattw says:

    Handsome photo. And such an intriguing puzzle on the back! I was wondering if “classmate” was a clue to the location, “State” referring to a college or something, though it really does look like it says “Line”, and I can’t make more sense of it than that. It does look like “Ne” to me, which I would have assumed meant Nebraska. I looked it up. Apparently the original official postal abbreviation for Nebraska was “NB” until it was changed in the 1960s to “NE” so it wouldn’t be confused with New Brunswick. I had no idea! But he wouldn’t necessarily have used an official abbreviation, and I’ve usually seen it abbreviated as “Neb.” And maybe our guy here made a mistake. I have a photo where the note on the back says it was from “New Braska”. :-) Thanks for presenting this fun one.


  4. penmanship is so important! It looks like Ill to me..quite handsome wasn’t he! :)


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