Friday, June 28, 2013

The Great-Greats: Grandma who?

Harriet (or Irene) Merriam Whitaker. 1837 - 1910

The most exciting part of seeing Grandma Bonnel's photo album last month was seeing photographs of four of my husband's great-great grandparents for the first time. The album included images of her parents and Whitaker in-laws. We now have faces for seven of his sixteen great-great grandparents.

This photograph is believed to be of Grandma Bonnel's mother-in-law. It is captioned "Irene Whitaker (Joe's mother). This caption, however, conflicts will all other known information about the wife of Henry L. Whitaker including the marriage license, grave marker and all census references. She is consistently referred to as Harriet or Harriet E. Merriam. I do not know who wrote the caption, but have to assume it was not Grandma Bonnel, who would have presumably known her mother-in-law well enough to be clear on her name. Perhaps Irene was a nickname? Or perhaps whoever wrote the captions was simply wrong. While the Bonnel family captions have been consistently accurate when compared to other sources, there are errors in at least two of the Whitaker family captions. Given that Eva Bonnel Whitaker had separated from or divorced her husband, whoever wrote the captions may have had less familiarity with the Whitaker side of the family.

The image is of a young woman in what appears to my untrained eye Civil War era clothing. 

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