Friday, February 17, 2012

Mystery Photo: What Does It Mean?

I have a problem. Was browsing through Aunt Betty's Archive of Williams family photos when I came across this one. It's a puzzle to me and I can't figure it out. I can and will ask Aunt Betty and Mom both but meanwhile I can't resist playing history detective, looking hard and trying to figure out what's going on in it. That's my GGF Daniel Williams, second from the left and marked clearly in Aunt Betty's notation at the bottom of the image. I just love how she labeled everyone recognizable in each picture... none of these "hidden" notations in the file ID.

OK, so at first, in thumbnail version, I could see that it's a picture of a bunch of men in, perhaps, a kind of uniform with some round things and a piece of equipment on a tripod. The thought crossed my mind for a moment that this was a Civil War group, but that couldn't be correct. because the puzzle pieces don't fit.
I guessed that they are surveyors and that the equipment is for surveying. So off I went to check the 1910 US census for Frostburg Maryland. It shows Daniel Williams, at 53 years of age, living with his wife Jane with four sons, Thomas 20 YO, Joseph 14, Cambria 12 (my GF) and Charles 10 years old. The census also says that his occupation coal miner.

But why is he this get up with other men likewise attired? Why is a miner dressed up like what appears to be a surveyor? I'm stumped, utterly.

So now I'll go ask Mom and Aunt Betty and see what they know.

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