Monday, September 3, 2012

Turn It Over - There's Something On The Back!

Bertha Patton and Katie Martin
Bertha Patton and Katie Martin

On reverse:
Bertha Patton
Katie Martin

Berthe Stearns

Here is what we know:

The photograph was found in Burkburnett, Texas.

Bertha Stearns is possibly the married name of Bertha Patton.

If the names are reading left to right, shorter Bertha is probably younger than Katie. But that is only an assumption. They could be the same age as teens and have that much difference in height.

The photo seems to be 1920ish making their birth dates 1900 or later.

Judging from the clothing, it is probably winter.

Not much to go on. It did take several tries. Seems there is more than one Bertha Patton that married some guy named Stearns. And, worse, many are in the same time frame. But there was only one from Texas. Assuming the photo wasn’t shipped from say, Toronto or Las Vegas, maybe that’s the one. Maybe the Bertha in Matador, Texas, is the one.

The only way I can imagine confirming that she is right one is to find a Katie Martin in the same area, at the right time. Do you have any idea who many Catherine, Katrina, Kate, Cathy or Katie Martins there are? Lots.

But it turns out there is only one Katie that was 18 years old when Bertha was fifteen in 1920 and get this, both were in Matador, Texas.

So here they are.

Bertha Matilda Patton was born 25 July, 1905. She lived in Matador, Texas apparently all of her life. She married Alvin M, Stearns in 1927. I could find no children. She died 22 Feb 1998 and is buried Matador, Texas. She was 92.

Katie Hazel Martin, daughter of Isaiah Evander Martin and Catherine (Kate) Scott, was born in Hillsboro, Texas, 14 October 1902. By the 1920 census, she was living in Matador, Texas. She married George Thomas James in 1925 and they apparently had one child listed as either Wraldo Beal or Raldo B. James. Katy Hazel died 8 June 1997 and is buried in Crosbyton, Texas. She was 94.

But, which is which in the photograph? Bertha is probably the one on the left. She is three years younger and is probably the shorter of the two girls.

It was an interesting challenge: constructing two unrelated family trees to find a common location and time. And yes, were it not for a few words on the reverse, they would be just an interesting old photograph.

I have not been able to find the building in the picture either. It is likely gone now. There is a new building for the Motley county school at 1600 Bundy in Matador. The current building appears to have been built in the ‘50’s or ‘60’s. Many of the old county school buildings have been replaced with one-story rambling structures in these small cities across the south west USA.

The Hollister, Oklahoma, district school is examined here.
I was lucky enough to find a photograph of the original building in that case. This is a good one for Google Streetview. It's still there. Sort of...

The occasion is a little harder to pin down. It’s probably not a graduation. There is no evidence of cap and gown on anyone, and high school graduation ceremonies are seldom held in cold weather. They are usually in May at the end of a school year. That would be warm weather in most of Texas.

In the background one can see a number of children and adults. I suppose the adults could be all teachers but probably not. It does not have the appearance of just a recess period.

It may have been some school event like a Christmas music concert or perhaps a play.
Or perhaps it was not a school function at all. The school auditorium was often the only gathering place in the town large enough for meetings and social events.

The school student body was probably larger than one might expect for a small town. These rural schools included all the children from farm families in the entire county and sometimes neighboring counties. Sometimes the population of the school could be greater than the town.

Actually, it may not be a school at all. It might be the county court house. Many of the small towns that are the county seat have buildings much like this. But I still think it is a school building that is just gone now.

Perhaps someone will recognize it and fill us in.

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  1. Katie Hazel Martin James was my Great-Grandmother. Her son Raldo was my grandfather.

    Cherity James Walker

  2. Katie Hazel Martin James was my Great Grand Mother. My grandfather Raldo was her son.

    Cherity Walker

  3. Katie Hazel Martin James was my great grandomther. Her son Raldo was my grandfather.

    Cherity Walker

  4. Katie Hazel Martin James was my great grandmother. Her son Raldo was my grandfather.

    Cherity James Walker

  5. I am so happy that you discovered this page. I left you a note on the Flickr page telling how to contact me.



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