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Look at this family …

Catherina, William, Emma and Elfriede Feinhals

I don’t know what year the photograph was taken, but I have actually managed to identify the family.  Names written on the back were cut off or cut in half – all but one: “Elfriede Feinhals at age …”  At the top, I can read two names that were cut in half when the photo was trimmed – they appear to be William and Emma.  I started searching.  Fortunately, the last name is not a common one, and I found the family almost right away.

In Philadelphia, in 1900, William Feinhals, who was born in 1870 in Germany, was a cigar maker.  He lived with his wife  Emma, also born in Germany (in 1869), and his daughter, Elfriede, born in Pennsylvania in 1895.  William’s mother, Catherina Feinhals, born in Germany in 1832, also lived with them, along with two boarders.

They were still living there in 1910, but Catherina was no longer part of the household.  It was just William, age 40, Emma, age 40, and Elfrieda, age 14.

In 1920, there’s a new family listed in the census … John A. Barlow and his wife, Elfriede  By 1930, they have a daughter, Jane.   In 1940, John, Elfriede, and Jane (now age 13) are living with Elfriede’s parents, both of whom are still alive.  Perfect! I thought – now I’ll find Jane’s husband and their children and grandchildren and I can send them this photo of their great-grandmother.

Not so fast – There is an obituary from 2002, listing Jane Feinhals Barlow of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.  And that’s it – no married name, no children, no surviving family members.  End of the family line.  No descendants, no one who might want this photograph.

But … and you knew there had to be a “but” ….  Jane was an amazing woman.  Born of immigrant parents, Jane received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College.  She received her Master’s degree and her Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins, and became an Associate Professor of Classical Languages at Susquehanna University. Jane taught at Susquehanna for 41 years, before retiring in 1995.

41 years … 41 years !!  The daughter of the little girl in this photograph was a professor of classical languages for 41 years.  The article I found online quotes a tribute to Jane from the school yearbook honoring her years of service in 1984:

“Convinced that the value of a liberal, humanistic education is not diminished by either the passing of time or changes in technology, Dr. Barlow has consistently urged students to enter fields of study which interest them, not areas which at the time appear to be the most lucrative or popular.”

I think I would have liked her.  I just might be glad there is no one who may want this photograph right now.  I like looking at these faces, knowing that these three generations produced a woman who encouraged a love of learning.

Sources:  Ancestry.com and http://sauvagenoble.blogspot.com/2005/06/ex-libris.html

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