photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: Emma as a Mother


Orval, Hilan, Emma and Maynard Maffit - Chicago- abt 1913
Back, l-r:  Orval Jerrain Maffit, Emma Esther Jerrain; front, l-r: Maynard Seth Maffit, Hilan Thorne Maffit, about 1913

On Monday, I shared some details about a child of my 2nd great-grandmother Emma Esther Jerrain.  Emma buried her first two children as very young babies.  She went on to have at least ten more children.  Here she is with her first three children to survive infancy:

  • Maynard Seth Maffit was born 13 April 1907
  • Hilan Thorne Maffit was born 3 March 1909
  • Orval Jerrain Maffit was born 12 May 1910

All three children were born in Chicago.  After the previous losses Emma experienced, I imagine this photo was particularly meaningful to her.

This photo was labeled by Emma’s grandchildren who gave it an approximate year of 1913.  My great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit, was born in June of 1913 in Montana.  If Grandma Emma was pregnant with Estelle in this photo, it must be very early in 1913 or else she sure is hiding it well under that girdle!

Don’t all four look so similar?  Especially their eyes.  According to family notes, eleven of the Maffit children had brown eyes, and only one – my great-grandmother – had blue eyes.  Both Emma and Seth had brown eyes.  This caused my Grandma to speculate, in later years, that Seth was not Estelle’s father.  But recently, my mom told me that her Mom and Grandma (Estelle), always told her that Emma had one brown eye and one blue eye.  Is it just me… or does her right eye look lighter than her left?  Maybe that tidbit is correct!  And for the record, I don’t question whether Seth was really Estelle’s father.  On top of my gut instinct, DNA supports the paper trail, Seth is Estelle’s father.  😉

What a treasure to find this photo on that CD from my Grandmother’s records!




Happy Thursday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy photo discovery this week!  If not, I hope you choose to preserve and share a precious photo today.  xoxo



ps – Remember that Maffit/Jerrain book I was wishing I had a copy of?  Well!  My cousin Heather scanned the whole book and emailed it to me!!  I am loving it!  There is a memories section that is the very best part of the book.  Thank you, again, Heather, for taking the time to scan and share.  It means so much to me!  ❤️


16 thoughts on “Photograph Showcase: Emma as a Mother”

  1. I immediately thought, “Wow, what a strong family resemblance!” when I saw the photo. I am curious about the names. They are so unusual—Jerrain, Orvan, Hilan, Thorne—where do these come from? Were they all family surnames that were then used as first names?

    1. Great minds! I was thinking the same; especially about the names. My entire family as far as I can tell shares a pool of about 25 first names.

      1. Haha, that is so true for my Scottish family as well. In fact, when I teach classes I often say – partly joking, “In Scotland, there are about 6 first names for men, about 8 for women, and about 15 surnames. You better learn how to use the naming pattern.” 😂

        I responded to Amy’s comment, so I think you’ll see it too, right? If not, most of the names are not from the tree anywhere. Emma and Seth were very creative. 🙂

    2. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Sometimes when it’s your own family, it’s easy to see something that others do not. 😉

      Jerrain is Emma’s maiden surname and was used for two of the children as middle names. Estelle, my great-grandmother’s middle name and the name she used, was Emma’s mother’s middle name. Seth came from their father and grandfather. Shorman was a middle name for a child born later and that was the surname of one of Seth’s sister-in-laws. Other than that, I haven’t found the rest of the names in the tree. I think Emma & Seth were very creative. 🙂

      1. Thanks! They certain make for unique names—much better than having relatives named Joe Johnson or David Schwartz!

  2. OK, this is what I got out of my biology lesson (simple version). Two brown-eyed people can have a blue-eyed baby. This is how it works. Blue eyes are bb. Brown eyes are either BB or Bb. If the parents are both Bb they can have Bb, BB, and bb children. Even the grandparents could have been brown-eyed. And this is why we love DNA! 🙂
    Lovely group photo. Looks like the children 😮were told not to smile otherwise they wouldn’t get a sweet. 😉

    1. Oh, yes! Of course, I was thinking about that backward, as was my family clearly – or they wouldn’t have made such a big deal about it. 😉 Thank you!

      But setting that aside, I still think that in this photo one eye looks lighter than the other and was surprised. I know black and white photos are difficult to determine “color” in, but the shades of gray seem to be several shades different in depth to me. I wonder…

  3. Emma was probably wearing a corset, most women did at that period, girdles were a great improvement in comfort according to my maternal grandmother. I can remember her telling me that she wore her corset throughout her pregnancies (5, 4 living children, one miscarriage) and that she “carried far back” and most people didn’t even know she was pregnant. Nana had an 18 inch waist when she married my grandfather, he laughingly took his hatband off his hat and it fit her waist. I was just working on a family line where of 11 babies born, only one survived to adulthood, that’s got to be rugged on the parents, especially the mother.

    1. Ouch! Thanks for the lesson. I hadn’t even thought about it being a corset. One of Emma’s daughters – her oldest that lived – said that she never knew when a baby was coming until they were born. So Emma was probably very much like your maternal grandmother.

  4. They certainly look alike! My mother had hazel eyes that appeared brown to most people & daddy was Italian with dark brown eyes. My brother inherited our dad’s eyes but my sister had beautiful blue eyes & blonde hair. People thought the hospital gave mom the wrong baby! Mom thought that was funny! Her ancestors were British & Scandinavian which explains my blue eyed sister.

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