Monday, September 7, 2015
A history lesson from a family photo
I recently came into possession of a collection of family photographs upon the death of my first cousin Ruth Pauleen Harris. It was the responsibility of her niece Edna to settle her Estate. Edna engaged the help of another cousin Nancy to decide what to do with an extensive collection of photographs and family memorabilia. I told Nancy I would be happy to offer my time and energies to scan the photos and archive them, and distribute any that should go to other family members. Upon that offer I received a collection of 1,405 photographs, numerous funeral cards and school souvenirs.
I chose the photo at the top of this post to feature today as it was the first to catch my attention as I started my scanning adventure. At the bottom left of the group photo it says "Hop Pickers Silverton, OR". The handwritten caption says "From Harry Bradley. This is where I was a hop-picking this year. That is me by that girl that is a smiling near that hop house." The front of the post card shows that it was sent to Mrs. Nannie Flanders in Great Bend, Kansas. It's dated 9 Jan 1907. Pretty cool, huh? I've identified Harry Bradley in the photo below.
My hometown is Great Bend, Kansas and until I started researching my family's history 16 years ago, I had no idea that my maternal grandparents, Milo and Nannie (Becker) Flanders ever lived in Great Bend. Oh the things we don't know as we're growing up.
My first task upon discovering this photo was to look at my genealogy database to determine who Harry Bradley was. This chart below shows his relationship to me, and to Nannie Flanders, to whom he sent the postcard.
Harry Bradley sent this postcard from Oregon to his cousin Nannie in Great Bend, KS.
My next research was on the subject of "Hop Pickers", as I'd never heard of them before. From this web site on Hops History in Oregon I learned that there were hundreds of hop farms in the Willamette Valley. The first hops grown on the Pacific Coast were grown in Oregon. Of the pickers themselves, this site tell us "Urbanites and rural laborers, married and unmarried, young and old, men and women alike enjoyed decent wages, additional income, and a retreat from the city."
It was interesting to learn that I had a cousin who worked in Silverton, Oregon as a Hops Picker in 1907. And what I found just as interesting was that he cared enough about his cousin in Great Bend, Kansas to send her a picture postcard of himself and his co-workers at that time. That is significant to me, as most of us don't follow that practice today. It's unfortunate that as cousins we don't often stay in touch and share our lives with our family. I'm grateful that Harry Bradley stayed in touch with his cousin Nannie. I'm equally as grateful to be in touch with my cousins Nancy, Edna and Edna's father, Duane, who have so generously shared this family photo collection with me.