J. Granger’s studio, located in Sparta, Illinois,  produced this cabinet card portrait of the Brown family. The wide-eyed Brown’s give the appearance of a family that are  overdosing on “Red Bull” or some other mega dosed caffeine drink. The Brown’s first names are written on the reverse of the photograph but only half of the names are legible. The United States Census provided assistance in learning more about the Brown clan. The 1900 census reveals that Sylvester W.  Brown (1857-?) was a 42 year-old man living in the town of Central, Illinois. He was a farmer and married to Lydia Brown, three years before the census (1897). The census reports that Sylvester Brown lived with his wife Lydia (age 37), his daughter Hazel (age 12) and son Olin (age 4). It is not likely that Lydia is the mother of  Hazel and Olin. That would only be possible if she was not married to Sylvester at the time of the children’s births and only married him later. A more likely scenario is that the mother of these children had died and Sylvester was a single father when he married Lydia. This theory is supported by the fact that   Sylvester and the children’s names written on the reverse of the image are very legible  but the older woman’s name is illegible and the name is clearly not “Lydia”. My best guess is that the woman standing next to Sylvester is either his first wife or an elder daughter. More research is required to clarify the family structure and history. The 1920 census indicates that little Olin became a soldier and pilot. The census states that he was sergeant/radio operator stationed in Pasadena, California. The 1930 census reveals that Olin became an “Air Pilot” in the US Army. Olin was then living in Belleville, Illinois with his wife, Fern. Olin was mentioned in an article appearing in Aerial Age Weekly (1922). The story is about the Army testing the Airship T-C-1 and Olin’s role as a “Motor Specialist”. The T-C-1 was a hydrogen inflated blimp. In 1923 the T-C-1 caught fire and was destroyed. No biographical information could be located about photographer J. Granger. This cabinet card is in good condition (see scans). Note the 3 small numbers, printed in ink, on the border of the mount.

Buy this Vintage Cabinet Card (includes shipping within the US) #3413

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Buy this Cabinet Card Photograph (includes International shipping outside the US) 3413

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Published in: on February 14, 2021 at 12:01 pm  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is it possible that the older daughter’s name is Nancy?

    • Its possible but I’m wondering what your basing this question on. Did you find something in the US census or elsewhere. I’m interested in hearing more about your theory.

  2. Sorry, I meant to say Fleeta, not Nancy. Sylvester was my husband’s 2nd great grandfather. His oldest child was Fleeta, lived with another family after her mother, Nancy, passed away in 1896.

  3. hahahaha – good call on the Red Bull

  4. Red Bull, coffee, or a ‘piece-of-work’ photographer! Nobody looks amused!
    –Erik in NW Ohio

  5. I don’t think the older female is an adult – she looks like a teenager not much older than the girl on the left.

  6. I agree. After reexamining this photograph, I believe the image features a father and three of his children. A comment by Erin (seen above), reveals that Sylvester lost his wife (Nancy) in 1896, making him a single parent. By the time of the 1900 census, he had remarried (Lydia).

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