A YOUNG TOM SAWYER GOES FISHING IN HENDERSON, KENTUCKY

When I first viewed this photograph, I immediately thought about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The barefoot little boy is wearing overalls sans shirt and a straw hat while holding a fishing rod and a pail for his catch. A fishing net lies on the floor in front of him. The young boy’s name is written on the reverse of the photograph. His name is “Ralph Griffith”. His story is tragic. He was born in 1899 in Henderson, Kentucky. He appears with his family in the 1900 US census. He lived in Henderson with his father H. E. Griffith (age 30), his mother Hattie (age 29), his sister Eugenia (age 4), and his maternal grandmother Josephine Dunning. His father is listed as a physician. The 1910 US census shows a newly constituted family constellation. Grandma Dunning was the new head of household and Ralph was also living with his mother, sister, and two lodgers. I was unable to determine what happened to Ralph’s father. In 19r14 Ralph died at the age of fourteen. His cause of death, listed on his death certificate, was diabetes mellitus. He was buried in Fernwood Cemetery.  The 1920 census found Ralph’s mother living with his sister in Henderson. Hattie was working in the life insurance field while sister Eugenia was a public school teacher. The censuses tell the sad story of the dissolution of a family. This photograph was produced by the Muller studio in Henderson, Kentucky. George R. Muller was born in Ohio in 1853 and was of German extractiton. He and his family appear in the 1910 US census. He was married to Pauline Muller (age 52) and he and his wife lived with their daughter, Jessie Lee (age 19). The census listed his occupation as photographer. The Bulletin of Photography (1923) announced the sale of his studio in Henderson.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Poor little Ralph! Perhaps his diabetes was inherited, and may have been the cause of his father’s disappearence from the census records. Darling photo, however. I have seen this genre before in my husband’s family album.

  2. Reblogged this on chaotiqual.


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