Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)
The Springsteen Family Bible contains three pages that had photos in them, but many had been removed by the time these pages were copied. (Yes, copied- these images of the bible were done before scanners!) So, with apologies for the quality of the images and the paper-punched holes in the side, on this Friday let’s take a look at these ‘Faces from the Past.’
First of all, none of these images have any identification to them, and what was on the back of each image was not documented well. Some of the images were taken out and then replaced for the copies.
Please note: The comments below are just educated guesses- NONE of the identifications can be documented at this point. Of course, if you have an image like one of these, please contact us! We may be able to better determine who the person **might** be by knowing who ended up with the photo- or, a family historian’s dreams could come true and your images might be labeled!
The image above indicates a sleeping baby, or, more probably, a babe who has passed away. Taking portraits of dead persons was one way to remember a beloved one who may have died suddenly, or very young. The BBC has an excellent article on such portraits- see Notes for link. Our image has an angel-like, floating-in-the-clouds feel to it, strengthening the belief that it is a post-mortem image.
Because the bible belonged, we think, to Anna Missouri Springsteen, the dead baby may be Mary Emma Beerbower, the daughter born 22 April 1880 in Brightwood (a suburb of Indianapolis), Marion, Indiana, who lived just until 29 June 1880. Anna Missouri and Edgar Peter Beerbower also had another child, little Willie Beerbower, who was born on 14 February 1889 and died the next day in Cairo, Alexander, Illinois. Finding these pictures and learning what might be on the reverse, such as the name of a photographer’s studio, would help to determine which, if either of these children, is in the portrait.
The little boy in the bottom photo might be Edgar Springsteen Beerbower (1876-1940). He was the second son of Anna Missouri and E.P. Beerbower. Edgar married a bit later than usual in life and then divorced, and no children of his have been documented. So there may have been no one who was interested in the photo in later years, thus it remained in the album- just an idea.
Or, could it be Anna Missouri’s littlest brother Joseph Springsteen, born in 1860 but died in 1862, before his second birthday? Much information in the bible is about her siblings.
Or, could it be someone else??
This appears to be a more clear image of the above baby. The reverse image at bottom right is believed to be from the portrait of the young woman below. J. M. Strode was the most prominent photographer in Kokomo, Indiana, for over 25 years, and working in the 1870s. Kokomo is about 60 miles from Indy. Wonder if this image is actually Anna Missouri Springsteen as a young woman? She married Edgar in 1873, and they may have traveled there for their honeymoon or just a visit. (No known family in Kokomo.)
Here is a picture of Anna Missouri when she was young…
And a bit older- do you see any resemblance?
We probably need to do more research on her dress and hairstyle, as that can tell us much about the time period. It would be wonderful if it was an early portrait of Anna (Conner) Springsteen (1824-1887), seen here in later years:
Her eyes are more wide open than her daughter Anna Missouri’s, so there might be a possibility… More research is needed.
We definitely know that the young drummer boy in the upper right is Abram Furman Springsteen (1850-1930), supposedly the youngest drummer boy in the Civil War. That was the legend (not just with family, but in Indiana) though it is probably not true.
We don’t know the little baby in the bottom right photo, either. She or he could be any of the folks mentioned above, or even a cousin or family friend. It too looks like a post-mortem photo- notice the wide belt to hold up the baby? The eyes may have been added in, too. Sometimes someone would get behind the baby or child to hold them in place, and that may be the case here too.
So what are your thoughts on these images?
Please do let us know if you have these same photos, and especially if you can identify them!
Notes, Sources, and References:
- Family treasure chest.
- An interesting article shows some of Victorian death pictures: “Taken from life: The unsettling art of death photography” bhttp://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-36389581
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