Usually there is not enough information on a photograph to identify the subject, but sometimes, there is too much information. This cabinet card photograph is from the collection of the Mishawaka Library Local History Room. The reverse of the photo includes the photographers name and address, two names (Theresa Tromp, Mrs. H. J. Graham) and two dates (1875, 1970). Our challenge is to decide the identity of the stylish young woman and the relationship between Theresa Tromp and Mrs. H. J. Green.
Both the clothing (note the “mutton chop” sleeves) and the photographer (McDonald’s Studio, 301 Main Street, South Bend) match the 1895 date recorded on the photo. With no 1890 census, we try 1880 and find Theresa Tromp, age 5, with her parents John and Theresa in Mishawaka. Daughter Theresa Tromp would be about age 20 at the time of the photograph. In 1900, John and Theresa Tromp are living in Penn Township, St. Joseph County, but daughter Theresa is not with them. There is no H. J. Graham listed in St Joseph County census records in 1880 or 1900.
Looking at marriage records, we find the marriage of Mason S. Jernegan (parents Ed A. Jernegan, Nannie C. Sherman) to Theresa Tromp (parents John Tromp, Theresa Beiger) in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In the 1900 U. S. census, Mason and Theresa Jernegan were living in Detroit with their 2 year old daughter Wanda, Mason’s mother Nana and Theresa’s sister Bertha.
Thinking daughter Wanda might be the connection to H. J. Graham, we check her marriage records, but find she married Samuel Boggs. No connection there!
Additional searching on Mason Sherman Jernegan shows his death in Detroit on July 5, 1901 with burial in Mishawaka. Another death record, that of Theresa Tromp, widow of John Tromp, W. Third Street, Mishawaka, dated Feb 29, 1916 was signed by H. J. Graham, M.D. The informant, the person who provided the personal information of the deceased, was Mrs. Graham, Mishawaka. Finally, the first mention of the second name on our photograph! Did the doctor’s wife sign as informant? This is generally a close relative, if available.
After additional research on Henry James Graham, we find he is first seen in Mishawaka in the 1920 census, a physician, single, living with his brother Abner.
Our mystery is solved when we find the October 8, 1914 St Joseph County, Indiana marriage record of Henry James Graham to Theresa Jernegan! We have now explained all the information on the reverse of the photograph except the date of 2007. This date is not directly related to any of our principals. Could it be the date the photo was donated to the library? After asking the librarian (always a helpful suggestion), we learn that 2007 is an inventory number assigned by the library and not a date at all!
- 1875 Theresa Tromp born
- 1895 Photograph of Theresa Tromp
- 1897 Marriage of Theresa Tromp to Mason Sherman Jernegan
- 1901 Death of Mason S. Jernegan
- 1914 Marriage of Theresa Jernegan to Henry James Graham
- 1948 Death of Henry James Graham, M.D.
- 1964 Death of Theresa T. Graham