This is one of several photos in my collection that is puzzling. I believe I have worked it out. Let me tell you what I think and then how about you tell me if I convinced you? Deal? Okay, here goes.
This photo was found amongst a batch of photos belonging to Vera Duval. Vera is the daughter of Francis Cyprien Duval & Alice Hyde and the sister of my great-grandpa Frank Duval.
The back of the photo, shown here, was written on at two very different dates by two different people. The first thing that was written was: To Arthur & Alice. That handwriting is not familiar but seems have been written at or near the time the photo was taken. The second thing that was written was: Grandfather Hyde – then the writer added the last name Hyde next to Alice’s name – Our Mothers Father. I believe the second writer is Vera. The handwriting is consistent with her handwriting and the photo is from her collection. If I am correct that Vera wrote ‘Our Mothers Father’, then that would mean that this is a photo of Alice Hyde’s father Henry Hyde. Simple, right? No. This is where we run into a problem.
Henry Hyde was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England in 1852. He married Ann Whiteley in Pitsmoor, Yorkshire, England in 1873. The next event of record is the birth of their daughter Alice in 1880 in Ontario, Canada. In 1884, Ann dies during childbirth in Golden, British Columbia, Canada. After Ann’s death Henry sends their daughter Rosie (possibly the daughter born in 1884) back to England to live with his parents. In January of 1885 Henry marries Ann’s younger sister Alice in York, York, England. Then they leave England and move to Alaska. I know that they are living in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1896. I know that Henry dies in 1908 in Fairbanks. Based on the family stories, I believe that Henry did not leave Alaska again after 1896. After Henry’s death, Alice marries Henry’s brother Arthur in Alaska. Arthur & Alice. The only Arthur & Alice the photo could have been given to. All of this leads me to the important question – Which Grandfather Hyde is this? Is this a photo of Henry Hyde who died in Alaska or his father Henry Hyde who lived his entire life in York County, England. Alaskan Henry or English Henry?
Using the available information, I want to first make my case that this photo is not a photo of Alaskan Henry:
- Henry was 56 years old at the time of his death. I’m not great with ages but I think the man in the photo is a fair bit older than 56.
- This photo was taken in Sheffield, York, England. If it were Alaskan Henry then it would likely have been taken prior to 1896 making Henry 34 or younger. No way is that guy up there 34 or younger. But that is not even possible anyway because of the photographer.
- The photographer, Alan Rufford, is listed in the Sheffield, York, England city directories in 1908 & 1911 but not in 1905. This leads me to believe the photo was taken between 1905 and 1911 or possibly later. Alan could have opened up his shop after the printing of the 1905 directory. The Sheffield Indexers have a spreadsheet of photographers in Sheffield with the dates they were in business based on the city directories. They have Alan Rufford listed only in 1908 & 1911. So far that is all I have found as well. Because Alaskan Henry died in 1908 I have a feeling he didn’t make a quick trip to Sheffield for a photo just before he died.
- Would Alaskan Henry have inscribed a photo of himself to his wife and brother? Kind of weird. I hope not.
Okay, now take all of those reasons and add these additional reasons to make the case that I think this is a photo of English Henry:
- English Henry was born in about 1831 in Sheffield, York, England. I don’t know his death date. He is still living at the time of the 1901 England Census. I haven’t found him in 1911. If the photo was taken sometime between 1905 and 1911, English Henry would have been 74-80 years old. Like I said, I’m not great with ages, but that seems like a better match to me.
- The photo is inscribed to Arthur & Alice. Arthur is English Henry’s son. English Henry presumably knew Alice. After Alaskan Henry’s death maybe English Henry had this photo taken and sent it to his son and double daughter-in-law in Alaska?
- This photo was taken in England. English Henry was certainly in England and it is more likely he would have been photographed there during this time period than his son who did not live in England.
What do you think? Did I convince you? Am I completely wrong?