Across the Road

The photograph of my Mother pushing a doll in a stroller was taken in the 1940s. That I’m sure of. What I am less certain of is the location. Given where Mom and her grandparents lived, I’m reasonably certain the photograph was taken in Hancock County, Illinois. But where within the county I am not so certain.

The road isn’t a huge clue. The picture is somewhat blurry, and I can’t be quite certain if the road is dirt or gravel, although I think the chance it is paved is fairly slim.

I don’t think the picture was taken in Mom’s paternal grandparents yard as, based on the property they owned across the road and how long they had owned it, I doubt there would have been a fence line running perpendicular to the road right there (the barns were on the same side of the road as my mother would be and livestock were pastured on pasture they owned that was not across the road). The farm ground behind the road gives (to me) the impression that it was owned by two different individuals at the time the picture was taken or at least reasonably close to when the picture was taken. That’s not the case with the property across the road from her paternal grandparents’ home/front yard.

It could be in her maternal grandparents’ yard, but it would have to have been the side yard and not the front yard–there was a state highway, paved since the 1930s (road maps verify this–not just my second/third hand knowledge). The road does not appear to have been a state highway. I think the road on the side yard road was gravel and need to look at a county map in the 1940s to be certain. But upon further reflection it could not have been in their side yard either because of the fence in the background. My great-grandfather’s brother’s home would have been in the background if the photo had been taken in the side yard.

I’m left with concluding that the picture was likely taken where her parents lived in the 1940s.

Background in pictures can be helpful in determining where a photograph might have been taken. If you think you know where a picture was taken, see if the background matches (at least reasonably closely) what should have been there at the time. In this case, county plat books or atlases could have been helpful. Road maps would also have been useful in determining what type of road was in use at the time.

Also do not jump to conclusions and give yourself some time to analyze something. Upon first analysis, I forgot that my maternal great-grandfather’s brother’s was to the east of his and, given it’s location across the road, should have appeared in a picture taken in their side yard.


One thought on “Across the Road

  1. Sharon Howell says:

    I disagree that the land across the road was owned by two people. The fence is around the corn field. Many farmers let their cows into the corn field to glean what they wanted after the crops were picked. The right hand field could have been left fallow or planted in wheat. Can’t tell the difference between grasses and wheat at this distance; they are both about the same height and have tassels. It also looks like the fence is next to a ditch that flooded in the spring which kept the crops from growing next to the fences. I wasn’t raised on a farm, but in an area where there were a lot of farms, and I used to look at the lay of the land from my bus window on the way to school and back, especially after rains.

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