November 14, 2013

Sepia Saturday #203: The Woman in Black is back.


Ghostly treatment of a mysterious photo. 


Who is this lady? I am not sure I will ever know.  In my family-search on my father's side, I have come up with a few theories.  She might be my father's grandmother, Margaret (Maggie) Maglenon (born 1856, death unknown), in her later years.
Maggie had quite the life.  Before my grandfather was born, she had a son by a man called James Bailie, but they never married.  My grandfather, Joseph was born a few years later, by another man, called Davison. They never married.  Much later, she did marry—a man called John Stratton, who, according to the Irish Census, was 12 years her junior! They married when she was 41, and he was 29.
I'll tell you one thing, she must have been a handsome woman.
I have not one single picture of her, unless this is the woman herself, but the woman in this photo could just as easily be my great-grandfather's mother, Ellen Flanagan, born in 1841, whose death is unknown (at least to me).

Then again, she might be someone else entirely, but why, oh why, did my father have this picture in his little tin box that he kept on his closet-shelf along with all the other of his sparse collection? I wish I could ask him, but since this Sunday, he will have been gone five years already, that's just not possible.

Here's what the photo really looks like:


Just a sweet little old lady striking a pose.  I'll bet it's Maggie.




Click on the tab above and see what other folks are lurking in doorways.

32 comments:

  1. I think it's Maggie too. Every little old woman used to be a young woman. You have no other photos of either of the women? Too bad.

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    1. None. I so wish I did! Good reminder, and this photo would certainly suggest that.

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  2. A lovely photo, of whoever it is. No chance of identifying the lady by the location I suppose? It was most probably taken in front of her home, and perhaps the cottage still exists.

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    1. Jo, I do know this is not the cottage of my great-grandparents, but have no idea whose it is. It doesn't help that most of the cottages in the Mourne area are the same: small, stone and simple.

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  3. Maggie must have been quite something in her day. It's hard to tell from the photograph if she was a knockout beauty or not, but sometimes it's not so much outward beauty but a charismatic personality that attracts a fellow. Whichever, one can only hope she had a happy life and loved, and was loved by, her sons.

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    1. She might have been very charismatic, that's true, but life in Northern Ireland could not have been easy--lots of poverty and very hard work to have a decent life. I don't know that she had much if a relationship with her sons. I do know that my grandfather was working as a farm-labourer at the age of 13, and there is no indication she was living in the same house.

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  4. Whoever she is, she is one confident lady.

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    1. Yes, I think so, judging by that straight back and the arm, akimbo.

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  5. Oh my, I have a strong feeling she lived a life many of us have only dreamed of, and a few of us, who just may have lived but aren't willing to commit to having lived! Seriously! I mean why not live our life to the full, most possible all right?!!!

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    1. It was a really tough life, Karen, I suppose she made the best of it.

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  6. The people in these early photos are tantalizing images because they are a record of someone, but identity can never be certain. I like to think of them as a painting, a representation of who it might be, but not necessarily a perfect likeness.

    Thank you, Kat, for your kind comments on my other blog that I keep on my grandmother. My mother saw your note, and discovered I had updated the blog, and was very touched that you had enjoyed reading about her mother - my grandmother. She was a beautiful woman who loved family photos old and new, and she would have loved the Sepia Saturday blogs like yours.

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    1. Mike, I like your philosophy about the images being a representation of who they might have been.
      Please tell your mom that I found her family photos made me smile. It was so nice to see a record of a family that so obviously cared deeply about each other. It inspired me. Thanks.

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  7. Old family photographs so often underline loss : loss of someone close, loss of opportunities to dig deeper into family history. But that splendid lady with her sober flu pose lives on - in black or in sepia

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  8. A mysterious lady indeed, Perhaps that was part of her charm.

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  9. Thanks, Alan. Yes, she does live on--in many incarnations. I've never heard that term "sober flu". *now googling

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  10. She's almost in a "I'm a Little Teapot" pose, isn't she? Is she a little cocky, here, a little pleased with herself? My money's on Maggie!

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    1. You're right, Deb, but I think she may just have been trying to keep her balance. I would be anyway.

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  11. Well as you wonder, I say she really resembles a Catherine Buehl (sp??) who married one of my late great uncles, the hair style and face look like Catherine to me, same era, 1840-50's, but Catherine was from the Salamanca New York area?? Maggie's life also reminds me on one of my husband's ancestors whom we only learned of thru Ancestry.com....A great photo and I love the way you first blurred her for us, then made it clear!

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    1. That's as good a theory as any, Pat. I'm glad you liked the ghostly version.

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  12. We need Brett - photosleuth - back to help identify the era and location - he always had good comments on that.
    What a life Maggie had!

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    1. I'll keep that in mind for when he returns, Jackie.

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  13. She looks quite beautiful to me. A bit pensive perhaps - or was she like me and closed her eyes at the wrong time?

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    1. I think she might be looking down to be sure of her footing, but yes, pensive too.

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  14. Whoever she was, she was imposing -- delightful.

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    1. I think so as well, Joan. Thanks,

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  15. Oh, she sounds like a spirited soul who lived life to her liking.

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  16. It looks like Maggie had good hair!

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  17. Let’s hope it really is Maggie - she deserves to be brought into sharper focus after all!

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    1. My mom read the post, and now she says she remembers my father saying that it was his father's mother, when she was known as "Granny Stratton".

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    2. Well that's great. Put a sticky label on the photo immediately!
      It's a lovely photo.

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