I saw the first image on a website where I buy old photographs. Look at her!
And there was even a name – Doris McKinstry.
I bid on the offering, not realizing that it was an album of faces – an album that is roughly 9 x 6, with a soft leather cover. When I received the album, I couldn’t stop looking at those faces. The seller called them a “beautiful portrait collection,” and she was right. Almost all were identified – 13 out of 20. There was no information on where the photos were taken, but the seller recalled purchasing this album at an estate sale in New Orleans, at a house on South Carrollton Avenue. No information remained on the occupant or the family, but the home had been empty for a while. So all I had were 13 names and 20 faces.
Some of the names were unique enough that I began with those, and one location kept popping up: a village called Hemingford in Box Butte, Nebraska. I continued to search all of the names, just to make sure they were all in that area, and they were. In a situation like this, Google can be your best friend, so I let it run … and found THIS !!
Check it out – every single one of my faces is in that composite – and only three are missing names. Fortunately, I have names for those three people from the album, so I had identified all 20 of these people. The photo was on the webpage of Hemingford High School, set up as part of an attempt to include information on every graduating class.
So here they are – 20 classmates of Hemingford High School in Box Butte County, Nebraska. But how did this album get to New Orleans? Spoiler alert: I still don’t know the answer to that question.
What I do know is some of their stories … not all of them, not yet. I don’t know which class member this album belonged to … was it Doris? Hers is the only photo that is colorized. Did it belong to Willard Donovan? His is the only one that mentions a year – “Willard Donovan ’28.” Or maybe it belonged to Margaret Willcox – her name included a married name.
Maybe in writing about them, I can locate living descendants. Barring that, perhaps I will return this album back to the school itself. For now, I want to document what I have found, in case someone else is searching. So here’s to you, Class of 1928, Hemingford High School:
Ella M. Bunce
Lowell E. Bedient
Florence J. Planansky
Oneta G. Hucke
Mildred M. Myers
Edna I. Myers
Willard Donovan ‘28
Tessie L. Plahn
I hope you will allow me to tell your stories.