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Madness Monday – Mystery Men photo 2nd UPDATE!

September 7, 2009


UPDATE 2 !(9/8/09)

Robin and I have been comparing the 2nd gent to his brother, pictured here.  The hair is definitely the same, but it’s hard to tell since his face would have filled out quite a bit since the first picture.  The first photo was taken at the same time as Edwin’s grainy one (have I mentioned lately that I really want a scan of the original to these photocopied photos?).  It’s not as obvious as Edwin’s picture, but still a possibility?


UPDATE!!! (9/7/09)

My cousin Robin figured out who the top guy is!  It’s my great grandfather’s youngest brother Edwin William Waits.  The only other photo I have is that really grainy one that’s a scan of a photocopy.  Good eyes, Robin!!  Now figure out who his friend is! lol!


The 1900 census shows Edwin in Seward NE.  In 1917/1918, he registered for the draft for WWI, but I haven’t seen anything that shows that he enlisted.  His draft card shows that he was working for the Union Pacific Railroad as a machinists helper and was married.

I’m still dying to know what’s written on the back of that photo, though.  I think I’ll take everyone’s advice and take it to a professional!  Thanks for all of the feedback!!  =)

This photo has driven me mad since I first saw it.  I really stands out against the photos of farms and farmers that it was mixed in with.


Who are these guys?  I can only assume that they’re either from the WAIT or FLEMING sides of my family since that’s the photo album I found them in. I can see a bit of family resemblence between the two of them, especially their noses and ears… but their eyes and mouths and hair are completely different.  When was the photo taken?  My guess is some time in the 1800s.  How old are they?  Late teens?  Early 20s?  What’s with the fur coat?  I haven’t come across anyone in my tree yet who lived anywhere that a fur coat was warranted or practical.  Not to mention affordable!  The guy on the bottom is wearing a turtleneck and what looks like a wool pea coat?  They certainly took great care in their appearance… it’s almost like they knew I’d be staring at this picture for hours and they wanted to look their best.  What sort of event would warrant a photo like this to be taken?


Look at the back of the same photo.  There’s black scrapbook paper glued to it from where it was taken out of a photo album, but you can tell there’s something written underneath it.  Argh!  Not to mention that part of the word on the left was cropped off when they trimmed the photo.  It looks like “Ed” and what looks like the beginning of a capital “W”  to me.  At the end of the last word is definitely “tt”… what’s the letter they’re connected to… “a”… “i”…. something like that?  Or am I just imagining things because I subconsciously want their last name to be Wait or some version of that.  Was this photo originally in a frame?  When were these postcards available?  Could this have been a reprint on post card stock or is this the original photo?  I think I saw some sort of solution in a scrapbooking store once that was used specifially for dissolving the glue on pictures like this, but I would be more afraid of ruining it than anything.

If anyone has any guesses or advice on this photo, please comment away!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2009 12:21 pm

    Kathy, interesting picture! Is there anyway you could take it to someone who specializes in restoring old pictures to at least help you determine the best way to remove the paper yet preserve the writing that is underneath.

  2. September 7, 2009 10:17 pm

    Hey there,
    Ditto to what Mavis said. I’m sure a professional can get that paper off.

    My first thought upon seeing the picture was that the two guys were gay, however, I don’t know if, in that day and time, anyone would have had the boldness to take a formal picture together. Then, I kind of wondered if the one in the fur coat might be a rather tomboyish-looking woman, but nah, I’m pretty sure I see a hint of an Adam’s Apple.

    I think you’re right on with the Ed on the back, and I was thinking something like Wyatt for the other side, but then you reminded me of your family name and yes, I think it could very well be Waitt. 🙂 So there’s my two cents worth! Let us know when you get it figured out!

  3. September 7, 2009 11:25 pm

    In an odd way Kathy, the picture is rather beautiful… so refined… so deliberate.

    These are certainly young men, late teens maybe. There faces don’t reveal the story that comes with aging. Their skin {and hair} is — flawless.

    This photo was no accident or fluke — the dress, the pose, all scream a planned event.

    Now, I wanna know!:-)


  4. September 7, 2009 11:30 pm


    Great detective work.

  5. September 7, 2009 11:54 pm

    Hi Kathy…photo postcards were really popular from about 1900 through the mid twenties or so. This one looks late…probably in the twenties. Cool photo! Your’re lucky to have it. Sue

    • swatkitty permalink*
      September 8, 2009 3:30 pm

      Thank you for the comments, everyone!

      @Luckie – I think it’s beautiful, too. I spent a lot of time yesterday just sitting and staring. It’s mesmerizing to me!

      @Sue – Hmmm… That kind of goes along with what I’ve been thinking. Edwin was born in 1892, so he would have been 18 in 1910. Robin and I have been comparing the other gent to his brother Thomas, who was 6 years older, making him 24. I’m not sure if they’d be any older than that?

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