Photo Correction: What Happened to the Baby?

Last November I shared the last photo of a Luxembourg family before emigrating to America.

At the annual Genealogy and Local History day hosted by my genealogy society Luxracines last monthNicole gave me two old photographs. They were found at the recycling park and passed on to her as she has an interest in genealogy. As I’ve worked with old photographs and have an interest in researching US families, Nicole thought I might be able to research the family and write a post.

In the post, I was able to identify the MAUER family of Koerich in Luxembourg. The brothers Valentin MAUER and Eugène MAUER had emigrated to America in 1906. Prior to their departure, they had their picture taken with their mother, their sister, and her family.

I wrote to several people who had trees on Ancestry® and heard back from three of them. They’ve received good quality digital scans of the photographs. The first two are descendants of Valentin MAUER and the third of his sister Catherine MAUER who married Andrew KUHNEN in California in 1897 the year after she emigrated. I haven’t looked into how she came to emigrate nearly a decade before her brothers.

I still have the originals and would like to send them to two of the descendants of Valentin MAUER if they are interested in owning the original(s). 

The reason for this post is that I made a mistake in my write-up on photographs.

My mother inadvertently helped me figure out something about the photos which I didn’t catch when I wrote my post. The photos were on the dining room table when she stopped by a week after my post.

Three months later, I’m getting around to correcting my error.

I was showing Mom the photographs and explaining who I had gotten them from. I told her about the MAUER family and how three of the children went to America. With the photos side by side, I was pointing out who was who.

The photographs are nearly identical. The backdrop of the pictures is likely the family home. The same persons are in both photos except for a baby. The woman holding the baby in this photo was probably the mother.

Do you see the mistake I made when I wrote: “except for the baby?”

Here is a close-up of the first:

Back row left to right: Etienne GRETHEN, Catherine MERTES widow of Jean MAUER, Eugène MAUER, and Valentin MAUER. In the front left to right: Anna GRETHEN, her mother Marie-Anne MAUER holding baby Jean Baptiste GRETHEN, and Hélène GRETHEN.

And the second:

On the right in the seconded cropped image, the mother is clearly no longer holding the child. However, I noticed her dress wasn’t dark below the knees as in the first. There’s a blur in front of the mother and to the left of the little girl. This must be the baby I thought was missing in the photo.

Jean Baptiste GRETHEN, born 11 January 1905 in Koerich, was in both pictures with his parents, sisters, uncles, and maternal grandmother.

This may seem like a small thing to write a post about but it’s also a reminder to review previous research. You’ll likely turn up something you missed the first time around.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

13 thoughts on “Photo Correction: What Happened to the Baby?”

  1. Cathy, I love old photography, especially when you are trying to make sense of what it is you are seeing. Returning to my previous research is my “M.O.”…it can scare up the littlest thing that can make all the difference in the world! Awesome post! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Cathy, You can clearly see that the mother in the 2nd picture is not looking full on to the camera. She seems to be looking down with her right arm stretched out as if either holding the baby that is sitting on the ground upright or she may be playing with the baby while the picture was being taken. What are your thoughts? Brian

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  2. Wait! I’m so confused. How can there be two photos so close and so different? Were they taken at the same time and some of them have the same expression and others do not? For instance, the girl on our right seems to be looking a different way in each.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Luanne, I’m sure the two photographs were taken within minutes of each other. As this was 1906, the equipment used meant everyone had to hold still for each shot. I thought the baby might have been moving around too much and was kept out of the second shot. But now I see that he was in fact in both photos. We don’t know which came first. Maybe the mother picked him up for the second shot to keep him still.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I sometimes wish I had eyes like Val Erde (colouringthepast) for these old photo details. She has an ability to not see the details above the whole where so many of us see the “whole,” if that makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful what a second look or second pair of eyes will see! Recently the local Archdiocese took a second look at the records they sent me and corrected their translation in one document but in their second look they found a previously forgotten child of my ancestors. Usually a baptism record has the name of the child written in the margin. This did too. However, in the body of the baptism text it was written that two children, siblings were baptized that day! The second child must have also died within a short time after the baptism because she is no where to be found. I’m trying to find a death or burial record for her now. Good reminder for us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, I have found that in the Luxembourg church records they don’t always list the death of a child in the burial section. I’ve seen some baptismal records annotated in the margin with the death date. The only mention the child did not survive. I’ve only seen two children mentioned in one baptismal record when they were twins.

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  4. Cathy,
    I would like to thank you for the amount of research you put in to locate the family of these pictures. You have been in contact with my daughter and we are thrilled with this find! With your help, we are able to add more pieces to our family “puzzle”. Your time and commitment are truly appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

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