Local Genealogy · Photos

Bleile Family Mystery!

Well, it happened again. Another orphan photo followed me home. This time a middle aged man, young man, and boy stared solemnly out of a picture postcard in a shop in Nappanee, Indiana. The reverse tells me this is George Bliley with his son and grandson.

MenBackside Postcard

I remembered from a workshop on dating pictures that the stamp block in the corner of the postcard will tell you the approximate date the card was printed.  I found entire web pages that do just that! The best, including illustrations, was Playle.com (http://www.playle.com/realphoto/) Note the triangles in the corners, with 2 pointing up and 2 pointing down? This card was printed on Kodak AZO paper between 1918 and 1930.


I am not skilled enough to narrow the time period using the men’s suits, but the boy’s clothing does match the 1920’s.

Next, it’s off to the census and other vital records for Nappanee, Elkhart County, Indiana. Comparing the families found in Nappanee to the probable date of the photograph, and confirming the information with on-line Indiana death records, Find a Grave postings and obituaries, we can make an educated identification of this family.

George Bliley is almost certainly George Bleile, with his son Clarence and grandson Claude.  George was born 17 Aug 1862 in Nappanee, the son of German immigrant George Michael Bleile. George and Sarah (Symensma) Bleile had 2 sons, Clarence born 10 Oct 1887, and Leander “Lee” born 2 Oct 1891.  Like his father, Lee spent his life farming in Locke Township, Elkhart County.  No record of children was found. Clarence left Nappanee by 1911, marrying Nellie May Morningstar in Ontario, Canada 21 June 1911.  Clarence and Nelly settled in Gasport, Niagara County, New York by 1912. Their son Claude was born 3 Oct 1914.  Another son, Carl, was born in 1927 and died in 1931.  Based on the date of the postcard, the apparent ages of those on the postcard, and the child’s clothing, the boy in the photo is Claude and not Carl.

Did Clarence bring his son to Nappanee for a visit around 1918-1919? Claude would have been aged 4 or 5. Or did George at the approximate age of 56 leave the farm to travel to New York to visit his son and grandson there?  We can’t tell from the photo, nor can we tell from the records found so far whether the family made regular visits or whether the visit captured with the 3 generation picture was a rare event.

I have not yet been able to find a family member to accept this picture. Claude died in 1993 and had no children, although he did have a stepson, W. Herbert Goodenough. It is also possible that the family is related to the Jacob Bleile family living in Locke Township, Elkhart County in 1860 and in Mishawaka, Indiana in 1870 and 1880.  If this is your family, let me know.  I have your photograph!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s