Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #51 An Unidentified Family Portrait

This unidentified family of three had their portrait taken by Henry Herman Brodeck, or his associate M. Wagner, on Main Street in Walla Walla in the Washington Territory.

UNKfamildaughterhusbanwife Rooney collectionWhat Are They Wearing?

From left to right are a little girl with a couple who could be her father and mother. The girl’s hair is done up in ringlets without a fringe or bangs. She is wearing a necklace or lacy embellishment just below the higher neckline of her dress of tartan patterned material. A light colored trim and ruffles in the same plaid material runs down the front and under pockets on each side giving the appearance of an extra layer (polonaise-style). The hem of the dress is extended a bit to below her knees by the lace of her petticoat. Her tiny button down (side) boots appear to be an everyday pair or well used. She looks to be about 40-44 inches tall considering she reaches her sitting father to his shoulder and may be about 5 years old.

He father is sitting in an armchair with long fringe in the front and along the sides. He is wearing a three-piece suit, not necessarily matching material, with a light colored shirt and bow tie. The four middle buttons of his vest are left unbuttoned while the top and bottom buttons are buttoned. He is not wearing a watch chain or a ring. His boots appear well-used. His hair is trimmed over the ears with a high side part and a little wavy comb over. His goatee is neat and full with a moustache.

The mother’s hair is parted down the middle, pinned up with a tiny curl at the side of one temple. Her dangling earrings look like the queen piece from a chess set. Her hip length buttoned jacket (elongated cuirass bodice) has wide lace cuffs with covered buttons and a light colored blouse peeking out of the sleeve where her hand rest on her husband’s shoulder. The double darts down the front of the bodice emphasize the hourglass shape. A light colored scarf with a fringe and pattern is held together with a brooch. Her overskirt edged with a band of tiny pleats curves up and overlaps in front. It does not appear to be a bustle. Her narrow shoe-length skirt is trimmed at the hem with a row of large pleats and a row of puckered material above. Her footwear is hidden under the skirt. She is holding a fur muff in her left hand.

Dating the Photograph

I believe this photograph was taken in the early 1880s mostly due to the lady’s two-piece dress which became popular around this time and her daughter’s tartan patterned dress.

This is supported by the information found on the photographer, his place of business, and the history of the area. The Territory of Washington was admitted to the Union as the State of Washington on 11 November 1889. The territory as such existed from 2 March 1853 until 1889 when it became a state. Henry Herman Brodeck, a Walla Walla photographer, was the owner of Brodeck & Co.’s Photograph Gallery from 1869-1890 during the time the area was still known as Washington Territory.

UNKfamildaughterhusbanwifeback Rooney collectionMore about this collection, how it came to be in my possession,
and links to previous posts in the series can be found here.

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ pt.lu or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

As a military brat I've lived in Georgia, France, Idaho, West Virginia, Spain, South Carolina, Texas, and Luxembourg. Married 39 years with two grown children. When I’m not doing genealogy, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful countryside in Luxembourg and surrounding countries.

6 thoughts on “Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #51 An Unidentified Family Portrait”

  1. I love trying to date photographs by clothing, though I am not very good at it. Clothes back then were so elaborate! I can’t imagine what it was like to get dressed every day. Now a pair of jeans, a sweater, some socks and sneakers, and I am done!

    Liked by 1 person

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