Thursday, April 7, 2016

Gerner Family Portrait - Treasure Chest Thursday

Of Frederick and Elvira (Bartley) Gerner's 16 children, 13 lived to adulthood, married, and had children of their own.  When there are that many children one knows that the family photos, photo albums, and heirlooms are bound to go in many directions.  As far as I know, none came in the direction of my father, Lee Doyle, their grandson through their daughter, Beulah, because she died soon after giving birth to my father and his twin sister.  After that time my father's contact with his maternal grandparents was limited.  I'm grateful when other of Fred and Elvira's descendants find me and my blog posts about the Gerner family and share photographs and other information they have. 

The original image that came to me is at right.  It almost looks like a painting or drawing but I think it was a photograph that had been painted on.  For the photo at top of this post I removed the background, straightened the oval, and added a little contrast.  Since I don't have the original photograph there's no way of knowing how close to the original the photograph I received is.

Fred and Elvira are seated in the center of the photo.  If the suggested date of 1892-1893 is accurate Fred would have been 44 or 45, Elvira about 38 or 39.  She would yet have three more children after this photo was taken.  There is no doubt that the parents are Fred and Elvira based on other identified photographs.  The children were identified by one of Fred and Elvira's grandchildren and it's possible they are mislabeled, but the apparent ages and gender of the children fit with their known family.

In this photo of their living children only twins Alfonzo (Fon) and Alonzo (Lon), the second and third oldest children, are missing.  They would have been 18 or 19.  Here's a little information about the others in the photo, beginning with the back row and coming forward.  All ages are based on the assumed date of 1892 or 1893.

Back row:
  • John, born in November, 1882, and would have been about 10 or 11.
  • Lana, born November, 1875, would have been about 16 or 17.
  • Edward, born July 1877,  would have been about 15 or 16.  Though married, he died in November, 1917, before having children. 
  • Ida, born May, 1873, would have been about 19 or 20.  She died in October, 1904, a few years after marrying and having a daughter.  She was Fred and Elvira's firstborn. 
  • Della, born February, 1879, would have been about 13 or 14.

Center row:
  • Mary Alma, born January 1881, would have been about 11 or 12.
  • Fred, born September, 1848
  • Bessie Leota, born June 1884, would have been about 8 or 9.
  • Elvira, born May, 1854

Front row:
  • Warren, born July 1890, would have been about 2 or 3.
  • Ethel Claire, born May 1892, would have been about a year.  She died in April 1897.
  • Mabel, born May 1886, would have been about 6 or 7.
  • Beulah, born September 1888, would have been 4 or 5.  She died April, 1913.

I'm impressed by the fact that every individual is looking at the camera, almost as though they are look through time, directly at all who view the photograph.  This is the only photo I have of both Ida and Edward.  Looking at their beautiful faces and knowing they both died in young adulthood tugs at my heart.  And there are the others who died so young -- Beulah and Clair.  Photographs are such a blessing.

This photo came from Jeanine, a descendant of Beulah's brother Warren.  I'm so very grateful to her for her willingness to share this treasure and that she volunteered permission for me to post it.  Thank you, Jeanine.


Copyright © 2009-2016 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Replies
    1. Isn't it great, Carol! How I wish I could see and hold the original.

  2. Was the original on metal?
    I would love to receive a photo like this from a cousin. I would do just like you - study it to death to see what else I could learn. Great job, Nancy!

    1. I don't have details about the original, Wendy. It's possible and I should email and ask Jeanine. I don't know if she would know or not. We had very little contact with this side of the family so, of course, I am thrilled for any photos from my father's line.

  3. Replies
    1. It is, Brenna. I should see if I could get a print made to hang. I don't know how well it would turn out but it might be worth a try.

  4. How wonderful that you have this picture! When I look at documents, I know they lived, but add a photo and it seems they become even more real.

    I hate to reveal my age, but the photo makes me think of my senior picture. Our pictures were black and white, but they did a colorized version of our photo which essentially looked a little chalked to me. Things have certainly progressed in photography as well as everything else!

    1. I know what you mean, Michelle. A photo just breathes life into all the information we gain from documents.

      I remember "colorized" senior photos. Mine may be but I'm sure my sister's was. Our ages are close.


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