This time, we have a more modern set of pictures. The most recent picture is labeled “Taken in Norwalk March ’45” and “Left to right March 1945 Lydia Seibel Pfaff, Olla Seibel Pfaff, Louise Seibel Stafford”. In faint writing on top of the card is what seems to be the name “Otto”, but there is no person or pet in the picture that could be Otto.
In the same drawer in the antique market stall was an older picture taped to a paper labeled “Lydia Seibel (age 26)” and “Olla Elizabeth Seibel (age 20)”. When comparing pictures of the same people at different ages, it’s best to look at each feature separately. Looking at the shape of the faces, mouths, eyes (both wearing glasses), shape of the chins and what we can see of the ears seems to confirm that Lydia and Olla are the same sisters seen with Louise in the modern photograph.
The earlier picture was not in the card de visite or cabinet card format familiar to us from earlier case studies. The paper of the photograph was thicker and did not appear to be mounted on cardstock. There was no photographer’s imprint, and there was no identification on the photograph front or back (the person who mounted the photo was kind enough to apply glue only to the four corners, allowing us to look for any markings). Looking at the hair and clothing styles, the upswept hair pulled into a bun, large oversized hats, high lace collars along with tailored suits, we can place the fashions approximately 1900 to 1910. The S shape (bosom exaggerated to the front, buttocks to the back) seen with the corsets of early 1900’s is missing, placing the picture closer to 1910 or slightly later. The later picture, taken in 1945, was not taken at a photography studio, but was a casual picture taken at home. Since the photographer kindly recorded the date, we do not need to look at clothing styles and the format/edges of the photo, although both match the recorded date.
Searching the three names, assumed to be sisters, in Ancestry.com, we find John Seibel, widower, in the 1900 census in York Township, Fulton County, Ohio with sons Adolph and Otto and daughters Louise (age 31), Lydia (16) and Olla (age 10). This matches the 1945 photograph where Louise appears much older than her sisters. Was this picture sent to brother Otto? Otto Seibel was living in Fulton County Ohio with wife Ethel Fraker at the time the picture was taken. It’s good to remember that sometimes the name on the reverse of the picture is who the picture is to be sent to, and not the person pictured.
By 1910, only Lydia (age 26) and Olla (age 20) are still living with John Seibel. Notice the ages are the same as on the older photograph, giving us a confirmed date of 1910.
By 1945, Louise would be approximately 76 years old, Lydia 61 and Olla 55. Let’s follow each sister between 1910 and 1940 and see how two of the three ended up with the same last name.
Olla Elizabeth Seibel was born in September 1890, the daughter of John Seibel and Henrietta Eckard, the youngest of nine children. She married Clifford W. Pfaff, son of John Pfaff and Christina Watkinson, on March 5, 1911 in Fulton County, Ohio. Olla and Clifford lived in Swan Creek, Fulton County, Ohio and had the following children: Donald born 1914, Clifford born 1917 and Bernard born 1920.
Lydia Seibel was born in Aug 1884, the seventh of John and Henrietta’s nine children. She married Henry A. Pfaff, son of Charles Pfaff and Catherine Schramm between the 1910 and 1920 census. In 1920, a daughter Myrta was 12 years old, and son Henry, Jr. was 6. (Further research tells us Myrta’s mother was not Lydia but was Henry’s first wife, Bessie Stearns.) Lydia and Henry Pfaff, Senior lived in Lorain County, Ohio. I had originally assumed that Olla and Lydia married brothers named Pfaff, but the facts prove this was not true and reminds us of the dangers of assumptions!
Louise Seibel was the second child and oldest daughter of John and Henrietta. Louise married James W. H. Stafford March 28, 1905 and lived at 10 Madison Street, Norwalk, Fulton County, Ohio. Son George was born in 1909. The 1946 city directory of Norwalk, Connecticut confirms that Louise, now a widow, continued to live at the same address.
Based on the notation on the reverse of the 1945 photograph that the photo was taken at Norwalk, we can guess the background was Louise’s home at 10 Madison Street. To test that guess, we searched for the address on Google Earth. Below is the current house at 10 Madison Street, Norwalk. Notice that the distinctive shingles visible behind the sisters in the photograph are also visible on the upper level of the current home. The lattice on the side of the porch has changed, but enough similarities remain to confirm the location of the photograph.
Finding pictures of sisters taken 35 years apart was a fun study. Having a picture of Louise and James H. W. Stafford’s home was just an extra treat!
Submitted by Alice Clark, SBAGS President, firstname.lastname@example.org