Tag Archives: Photography

Pelagie: A Rose By Any Other Name

Pelagie Roussin Saucier Reunion

Mesdames et Messieurs – I present to you Pelagie Roussin Saucier, born about 1815 – died 1902.  In her youth, Pelagie was described as little, black-eyed, and redheaded.  As far as I can tell, I didn’t get but one of my great-great grandmother’s genes… the black eyes.  What about you?

Another Saucier cousin – a grandson of Anthony Wayne Saucier – stumbled across this site a couple of weeks ago and generously shared the photo from his files.  The image is from a cabinet card, a larger photographic portraiture than the popular cartes de visite that were in wide use until the 1860s.  The cabinet card was given to him by his aunt, my father’s cousin, Louise Theresa Saucier, before her death in January, 2012.

I took the liberty of digitally cleaning and doing a little restoration work on the photograph, but I left the reverse of the cabinet card untouched.  Wondering about the possible date of the photograph, I went on a side trip to uncover some information on the photographer, Charles F. Meier.  As it turned out, he was prominent in the world of 19th century St. Louis, Missouri photography, and from 1875-1887, he operated a studio at 1406 Carondelet Avenue.  About 1892, the address on Meier’s cabinet cards changed when the studio moved to a location on S. Broadway.  Meier continued in the photographic business on S. Broadway until at least 1900.

Pelagie Roussin Saucier Reverse Side of Cabinet Card

I find it somehow reassuring to see Benjamin Harrison Saucier’s Woodland, California address scrawled on the back of Pelagie’s photograph.  Both images are a treasure, and I can’t begin to express my thanks to another newly found cousin.

Don’t Touch That Dial!

I still have a little more information to share that I hope interests at least some of you.  Save the date: there will be a Saucier Family Reunion on July 19, 2014 in Taos, Missouri – southeast of Jefferson City, Missouri – at the St. Francis Xavier Hall (otherwise known as the school cafeteria), from Noon to 4pm.  Lunch will be served at 1pm.  We’re all invited – the more the merrier!

I was told that more details will follow… so stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted as soon as I learn more.

No Wheels? Go By Horse, Of Course.

I’m sitting here at the computer, trying to decide if I should get up and go outside for a little rain dancing.  It’s either that or break out the garden hose and start watering.  We do have an 80% chance of rain this afternoon, and while the sky is overcast – in an on-again/off-again way – I’m thinking that maybe our local meteorologist declared the Happy Hour open just a little bit early today. His prediction doesn’t seem to be based on hard science.

Speaking of happy, my inbox has been a very happy place to be this week.  Cousins have been sharing some very cool family photos, and I’m finally getting around to posting some of them.  (I know what you’re thinking and it’s nothing that I haven’t said to myself… slacker.)

Louise Saucier O’Donnell

First up is a photo from a Thomas cousin.  The photo is labeled, “Bernard, Don, and myself in front of our house in East St. Louis”.  On the back of the photograph, “Aunt Lulu” is written.

Aunt Louise Bernard and Don

Bernard and Don Saucier were Aunt Lulu’s nephews, sons of a younger brother, Eugene Field Saucier.  Bernard was born 17 December, 1915 and Donald was born 23 September, 1917.  Best guess on a date for the photo would be the early 1920s, which would have made Aunt Lulu forty-something – some twenty years or so after the Saucier Family photo was taken.

The information I have on Louise “Lulu” Saucier, is a little hazy: born 25 November, 1880, died 19 March, 1956 in an automobile accident at Times Beach, Missouri.  Aunt Lulu married Thomas O’Donnell, had a large family, and was a long time resident of East St. Louis, Illinois.

I’ve compared this photo of Aunt Lulu to the Saucier Family photo, and I do have a couple of likely looking suspects picked out, with a strong first choice.  That straight nose and determined jawline are very distinctive.  Anyone else care to make a guess?  Leave a comment, or drop me an email.

Eugene Field Saucier

The next two photos came courtesy of a Cardwell cousin, both are photos of Eugene Field Saucier.  Please note that in the first photo, there is equipment hanging on the saddle horn, so Uncle Gene wasn’t out for a leisurely ride in the country.

Uncle Gene Saucier on horseMy dad used to tell stories about his uncles, the Saucier Boys, and how crazy they were for the game of baseball.  I’m pleased to say that I can move the stories from the family legend column, to the fact column.  The next photo shows Uncle Gene, again on horseback, on his way to or from a baseball game, and in uniform.

unclegeneinbaseballuniformCan anyone identify that second man?  He has the deep-set eyes, and a certain look about him suggests, to me anyway, that he is family.  But who?

Francis Field Saucier

If baseball is mentioned at one of our family gatherings, the conversation will soon turn to Frank Saucier, Uncle Stumy’s (Alexander’s) youngest son… but I’ll save that cousin for a future post.

Frank Saucier[Edit.: The rain is pouring down!  Mea culpa for those earlier bad thoughts I directed towards our terrifically smart weatherman – he’s an absolute genius.]

A Promise Is A Promise Is A Promise

June has blown right by with little thought on my part for anything in the way of regular posts.  The only excuse I can provide for the chirping of electronic crickets at this end was the unusual weather we’ve been enjoying here in SW Oklahoma.  We have certainly seen the mercury rise, eleven days over 100° so far (37.7° Celsius for my metric using friends), but other than those few days, when all I wanted to do was to hunker down and ride out the heat, it really has been a balmy spring.  Now my definition of balmy may differ somewhat from yours, but trust me on this one, it’s been a season worth remembering.

Weeks ago I mentioned the existence of a key to the much celebrated Saucier Family photograph.  Both photo and key were generously contributed by Glen Cowan, but time has unfortunately gone into overdrive since I made that promise.  At last, today is the day for the unveiling.

Here’s the photo once again, this time accompanied by the key that was provided by Aunt Mabel’s daughter, Mary Virginia “Ginny” Cowan Wahl (b. 17 June, 1922 – d. 12 September, 2011).  Aunt Mabel is seated in the bottom row, third from the left.

saucier_familysaucier_family_photo_keyGo ahead and click on the image for a larger view – as you will see, there are question marks and omissions in the key.  One glaring error is the line, “Grandfather Saucier… died two years after picture”.  It is known that Eugene F. Saucier died in 1913, so the supposition that this photo was taken in 1911 is, I think, slightly off-base due to the ages of the identified children.

At the same time there are a few tasty tidbits included that give us a glimpse of the people we came from:  great grandfather Eugene F. played the violin, his father played the organ at the Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.  Stumy lived for nearly 100 years – a jaw-dropping 98 years to be exact – and may have played the fiddle as well.  Charles was killed in World War I (in the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive); and two of the Saucier boys, Stumy and Wayne, together with a third man by the name of Dan, bought the Old Mill Farm (aka the Twin Springs Farm) and paid it off in a year.  So here’s yet another mystery – who in the world was Dan?

I had hoped, by some incredible stroke of luck, that the mysteries of the Saucier Family photograph would be unraveled by now.  That hasn’t happened, but perhaps the key will kick-start someone’s memories, or simply spur somebody to step forward to help set the record straight.  Stranger things have happened, and the eternal optimist (yours truly) refuses to give up on this particular little pipe dream.

One of the side benefits of this discussion has been the surfacing of family photographs.  I’ll wrap up today’s post with a few of my favorites:

Nana on horseback sidesaddleHere is a photograph of my grandmother, Ida Louise Hoffmann Saucier (b. 23 June, 1888 – d. 14 September, 1963).  Ida married James Garfield Saucier on 16 February, 1909 at Union, Missouri.  James is located top row, far right in the Saucier Family photograph.  And yes, you have my permission to giggle or chortle over the hat that she’s wearing – I do, every single time I see it!

josephinesauciercowanJosephine Saucier who married Eugene Cowan, Sr.,  photographed at her home in Columbia, Missouri (which, by the way, is still standing at 406 Conley Avenue).  Aunt Jo was one of the eight daughters of Eugene F. and Louise A. Saucier.  Unfortunately, Jo does not appear in the Saucier Family photograph.

Lastly, from another of Josephine’s grandchildren, a photograph said to be of a much younger Jo Saucier with an unidentified man.  The photo captures the final moments of a profitable day spent hunting – I spy pheasant, rabbit, possibly raccoon or maybe just a tangle of squirrels, in addition to some unidentified bits and pieces.

Josephine (JoJo) SaucierI’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – thank you, each and every one of you, who’ve made these wonderful photographs of our family available.

The Gibson Girl: An American Ideal 1890-1910

nanapa2Time for me to toss another family photograph in the mix, and the only people that I can positively identify are the couple on the left, my grandparents: James Garfield Saucier (b. 16 April 1887) and Ida Louise Hoffmann (b. 23 June 1888).  James and Ida were married 16 February 1909 in Union, Franklin County, Missouri  [Note: Anyone recognizing the three people on the right, please feel free to sing out.]

This photograph, coupled with the Saucier Family photograph in the May 1st post ought to provide enough clues to help date the latter.  To arrive at that destination, we’re going to take a stroll through the women’s department.  You men out there?  Just carry your lady love’s handbag proudly, and bear with me for a few minutes.

Ladies Fashion Circa 1900

A little bit of background: Charles Dana Gibson was an American artist who realized fame and fortune for a series of pen and ink illustrations satirizing the relationships between men and women.  The women in his artwork personified “a composite of thousands of American girls,” and he portrayed the women dressed in the current fashions.  For thirty years, Gibson’s work regularly appeared in Life, Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s, and Collier’s, and the illustrations became so iconic that the style of the era was named for him – The Gibson Girl.

First Stop: The Beauty Salon  During the Gibson Girl period, a woman’s hair was her crowning glory, and putting your hair up was still considered a rite of passage – a young girl did not put her hair up until she was considered old enough to go out into society.  The typical Gibson Girl wore her hair piled high on her head in a loose pompadour style.

English: Pen and ink drawing of the Gibson Gir...Second Stop:  Lingerie  The S-shaped, or “kangaroo” corset was in vogue.  Nipped waists decidedly got a thumbs up.  Busks, bustles, and crinolines… nix.  The natural silhouette – and I use that term loosely – was finding favor, but in the 1900-1910 era, that look was still a few years off.

Image: Courtesy of Bridges on the Body - bridgesonthebody.com

Image: Courtesy of Jo at Bridges on the Body

We have the hairstyle, and we have the form to hang clothes on, so let’s slide on past the After Six department in our search for daytime fashions.

Final Stop: Ladies Dresses  Frills, flounces, and furbelows were fading into the background while the tailored look took a giant step forward.  An A-line skirt was the order of the day, worn with a shirtwaist that often sported a high-necked collar.

Love in a Garden, Gibson.jpg

In the Saucier Family photograph, I count six shirtwaists in the top row alone, all with high-necked collars – and please note, every woman is wearing her hair up in the Gibson Girl style.

collarsThe following illustration for Arrow Shirts: 1907, was a lucky find.  I stumbled across it while doing some homework on the Gibson Girl, and it stopped me in my tracks.  Take another gander at the photograph above – the young woman on the far right – she’s wearing a tall, stiff collar and a narrow necktie in the manner of menswear.  Then, as now, fashion houses often based their designs on what was seen on city streets, so it really doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this advertisement dated 1907, especially during a period of conservative fashion.

Arrow Collar 1907Let’s Put A Bow On It

saucier_familyI’m very comfortable with the suggested 1902-03 dating of the Saucier Family photo, but I’ve been toying with the idea that it may have been as early as 1901 – not any earlier than that – and here’s why:

jg3I’ve extracted James G. from both photographs.  If we assume that the photo on the left was taken about 1902-03, James would have been fifteen or sixteen years old at the time.  Looks about right – so far, so good.

I’ve also extracted two more “knowns” – Mabel (b. 18 March 1899) and Eugene Field (b. 21 August 1894).  In 1902-03, Aunt Mabel would have been three or four years old, and Uncle Gene would have been eight or nine (still in short pants!).  Taking a second look, Mabel might be as young as two, and Gene as young seven, but no younger than that – so I think 1901 is a viable possibility.  I would not, however, place the photograph any later than 1903.

Which brings me back to the reason I’ve started this conversation… who were those extra women in the Saucier Family photograph?  I’ve provided a little more information for you to chew on, but for now, the ball is back in your court.

May Day – Or In This Case… Mayday

Vacations are very nice.  Unfortunately, at some time I have to admit that it’s past time to return to schedules and the workaday world.

I’ve got a new item on my to-do list (as if the list isn’t long enough already): The Frederick F. and Louise A. Saucier family photograph, circa 1902-03. I’ve spent a fair amount of time staring at the photo for the last few weeks, always referring back to the key that accompanied the photo.  Here’s my problem, I’m seeing a few names with question marks after them, and no. 5 in the top row is omitted completely.

Those of you that don’t know me are wholly unaware that I’ve got a wide streak of stubborn, and a mystery like this photo is guaranteed to bring out the mule in me.

Eugene F. Saucier Family Photograph circa 1902-03It occurred to me that it might be entertaining to make this an interactive sleuthing process, so I’m putting out a call to all the cousins.

Here are the facts: One child from a previous marriage, fifteen children born of this union, one foster daughter.  Seventeen possibles but only fourteen children in the photo.

Below I’ve listed all of the Saucier children in order of their birth.  I’ve marked in red the people I could either positively ID or eliminate altogether.  By the time this photo was taken (1902-03), William would have been in his mid-thirties, long gone from the family hearth, Frederick had died in an accident, and Andrew died as an infant (cholera, or so the story goes).  Subtract those three, and we’ve come full circle to the number fourteen again.

William – Married with home of his own
Frederick – Deceased
Gertrude
Andrew – Deceased
Henrietta – Top row, fourth from left
Louise
Alexander – Center row, left
Clara
Anthony
James – Top row, far right
Benjamin
Florence
Josephine
Eugene – Bottom row, left
Charles – Bottom row, far right
Mabel – Bottom row, third from left
Ethel – Bottom row, second from left

So I’m asking for help with this project… mayday.

If you don’t instantly recognize your grandparent, grandaunts, or granduncles in this photo, do you have some old photos tucked away for comparisons?  Pester your brothers and sisters (I pester my sisters mercilessly, one of the perks of being the baby of the family).  Have they seen the photo?  If so, do they remember anything they were told at the time?  I do see one major stumbling block, Clara, who became a Daughter of Charity, no descendants to appeal to.  But if we can ID the other thirteen, all that’s left is Clara – beautiful.

Lastly, I’m not going to post the key, yet.  I don’t want to influence you this early in the game, and logic tells me that if you have a copy of the Saucier Family photo, you probably have a key of your own anyway.

Feel free to comment with your guesses, assumptions, or “I was told” stories.  If you’d like to chat privately, for whatever reason, just leave a comment saying ’email me’, and I’ll do just that.

Color me anticipating your input.

The Great War, A Biplane, & Damson Plums

Ben Saucier Ree Heights South Dakota 1920

The following is the transcription of a letter written by my granduncle, Benjamin Harrison Saucier – that’s Ben in the photograph above – addressed to his younger sister, Josephine (Saucier) Cowan.  The letter came to me through a Howell cousin, who was also the source of the bios written by Henrietta (Saucier) Pace.

Dear Jo,

Yes, I hear from you from time to time but not as often as I’d like, so get on the job and show your class – Am writing this in a greenhouse that is attached to a chateau that’s surrounded by the most beautiful grounds you ever saw.  We are in a small village 6 or 8 miles from Nancy and about the same distance from St. Nicolas – both good towns.  

With the possible exception of the day I was born, yesterday was possibly the biggest day of my life.  Two of my corporals & myself were strolling around a little and wandered over to the aviation field – going down I remarked that all I needed was to take a fly over Nancy.  They ran out a light bombing plane and one of the assistants asked – Who’s going along.  I said – “I am” first, so we soared for awhile — He started straight for Nancy and reached it at an elevation of 5000 feet.  The view was something that I shall not soon forget.  

We circled over the city rising to 8000 feet in doing it, then went out in the country.  It seemed more like a dream than anything I’ve ever experienced – We went to 11,000 feet high and came back over Nancy at that height at a speed of 96 per.  Could only see the earth then in spots for the sky was cloudy & the clouds were all below us.  

The only thing I regret is that I did not enlist in that branch.  It’s too late now to think of transferring.  We were up for about an hour and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other hour I ever spent.  It sure was great – The clouds as seen from above with patches of mother earth here and the mountains in the distance etc. etc. is the most wonderful picture I’ve ever seen.

We came back from the front lines again a few days ago and will most likely be back for a month or 6 wks.  We are altogether yet and feeling fine. – We are out of the mountains – in a beautiful rolling country almost level and for a change it looks pretty good.

There are worlds of damson plums in this vicinity.  I wish you might see this country – Pass this on to some of the rest for I’ve neither time nor stationery to write to all – been writing to Mother at Stanton today — Haven’t seen anything of Eugene’s bro. yet.  Would like to run across him.  Write – Good luck & lots of it to both of you —

Ben — Cack is right with me & is ok.

Sleuthing: It’s Not Just For Hard-Boiled Detectives

Many happy hours I’ve spent daydreaming while reading this letter.  Besides the letter being a cherished piece of family history, I’ve often wondered what kind of impact it may have had on my father, who later became a pilot.  Dad would have been eight years old at the time this was written, and it’s easy for me to imagine the family gathered to hear Uncle Ben’s letter from France being read.

What’s hard for me to believe is that this letter has been on my ‘to-do’ list for well over a decade – funny how time gets away from you.  My goal was to date it as closely as I could with something other than “Sometime during WWI: April 1917-November 1918”.

I was recently provided with a new clue from a Cowan cousin that rekindled my interest in the letter.  That one item, along with the clues supplied in the body of the letter itself have allowed me to narrow down the date considerably.

the clue

For a dove of long standing, I find it just a little embarrassing to admit to an interest in military history, but it helps that I’m aided and abetted by a husband who shares that interest.  Sifting through source material is an engaging pastime for us – so here’s hoping that you don’t find the journey a dry one.

Look Out… This May Be Your MEGO Moment

Shoulder Insignia of th 35th "Santa Fe" Division, WWIBenjamin and his brother Charles ended up in the 138th Infantry, Company E of the 35th “Santa Fe” Division made up of National Guardsmen and draftees from the states of Missouri and Kansas.  They trained for over seven months at Camp Doniphan near Fort Sill, Oklahoma (which by the way, is located less than fifty miles from my back door).

Those seven months must’ve been eye-openers for a couple of farm boys hailing from a green and ‘water fat’ state, finding themselves just a stone’s throw from the 100th Meridian, the onset of the great American desert (only about sixty miles from my front door).

As mind boggling as southwestern Oklahoma may have been to them, the pair probably had little time to gape – the infantrymen of the 35th were drilled intensively by British and French instructors in the use of bayonet, hand grenades, and gas masks.

I’ve provided a few online sources below that you may find interesting, but what it boils down to is this: the 35th division was mobilized, leaving Camp Doniphan in late winter, 1918.  They were moved to the east coast by train, embarking from New York Harbor arriving at LeHavre, France May 10, 1918.  The infantry received additional training in Amiens until June 6, 1918.  Then traveling by rail – 40 men and 8 horses per boxcar – the destination was the Wesserling sub-sector on the Western Front in the Vosges Mountains where they remained through mid-August.  On September 1st, the 35th moved forward to St. Mihiel where they fought their first battle.  Between September 12th-16th, the American Expeditionary Forces liberated the town of Nancy and the 35th bivouacked in the Foret de Haye just a few miles west of town.  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began September 26, 1918 lasting until the Armistice, November 11, 1918.

The 35th Division collapsed after five days of fighting in the Battle of the Argonne, which has been described as the greatest battle in the history of the American military.  In little more than four months, the division casualty list totaled 7,296 (killed in action – 1,018; wounded in action – 6,278).

It saddens me when I think of Ben’s last line: Cack is right with me & is ok… less than two weeks later, Cack was killed in action.

Charles Clide (Cack) Saucier born April 6, 1895 in Sullivan, Franklin County, Missouri – died September 27, 1918, age 23, in the Argonne Forest during the second day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Chas_Saucier Headstone App

Sources:
United States, Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 (p. 191-2)
The 35th Infantry Division in the Great War
The Diary of a Doughboy
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
From Vauquois Hill to Exermont by Clair Kenamore

Froggy Went A-Courtin’

I’m in the mood this evening for old folk songs.

I like to say that I grew up in a car, and that’s really not very far from the truth.  My family crisscrossed the American southwest when I was young and we nearly always went by car.  My very first memory of a car was our family Nash Rambler.

Over the years, as both our family and the concept of American transportation changed, the family “beater” changed with us; we eventually graduated to a full-size Country Squire station wagon.  But before we acquired that behemoth, I can remember times when my sisters would stuff me up into the rear deck of the sedan so they could ride more comfortably in the back seat.  (Note: seat belts were not in common use at this time)

In those days AM radio was king.  This was long before the FM band came standard in a car, and the music and chatter would fade in and out as you traveled along the highways.  After sunset was the best.  It was then when many of the AM stations would boost their signals and you’d be able to hold a station far into the night.

SaucierOccasionally there would be times when we couldn’t find a station at all.  At these times my dad would chime in, keeping all of us kids quiet by singing old folk songs in a very acceptable baritone.  Froggy Went A-Courtin’ was definitely the front runner, with The Crawdad Song and Bill Grogan’s Goat finishing in the money.

Personally, I always favored the latter (nothing like a little blood and gore to get, and keep, a child’s attention).

I don’t know why I started thinking about those songs tonight.  All I really wanted to do here was to let you know that I’ve got the final part of Henrietta’s Story posted.  I won’t say that this is the last of Aunt Hattie’s stories, new items turn up from time to time, plus I’m constantly surprised by things that I’ve squirreled away and forgotten.  For now at least, you can find the latest segment here, Henrietta’s Story: Part Three.