Some families are blessed to have tons of pictorial records, but that is not the case for everyone. In my family, photos, prior to those of my own generation, are far and few between and hard to come by. However, every now and then, a family member surprises me with new (to me) photos they've "found". Such was the case, just a couple of days ago, when I visited the widow of my late cousin, Harold Green, of Louisburg, NC. I'd contacted her with a request to stop by and rephotograph some pictures I've seen many times before, since the cousin they've been left in the care of plans to donate them to a repository. My cousin's wife, Christine, was very happy to allow me to do this. In an attempt not to take up too much of her time, I got in there, snapped the photos I'd gone for (while exchanging pleasantries and getting caught up on each other's lives), and was thanking her and preparing to leave when she surprised me by saying, "I found some more pictures, not too long ago, and I'd love to let you see those. They are in a bag, somewhere, but I can't seem to find where I put it." Of course, I stopped dead in my tracks and expressed how much I'd love to see the pictures. She and I both looked around the room for the mysterious "bag", which she eventually found. One by one, Christine started pulling out 8x10, framed photos. I had to ask her to slow down so I could examine each one!
These are the first two photos Christine showed me:
|This was the only photo Christine was able to identify. "She said,|
I know who that is! That was Jessie's husband - the doctor."
This photo of Dr. Patterson was taken by Ellie Lee Weems,
an African American photographer in Jacksonville, Florida,
where he and Jessie lived.
|Next, Christine pulled out this photo. She said she didn't know who it was, but I felt that I was|
looking at a photo of the same man - only a little older and thicker. I belive this to also be Dr. James Perry Patterson, of Jacksonville, NC.
James worked at a Jacksonville hospital, located at 103 E. Union Street. He and Jessie shared a home on 8th Street and also owned a home on American Beach, which some of their close family members, from Louisburg, fondly remember visiting. He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and may have been a Freemason.
What About Cousin Jessie?
What I know about Jessie Green is that she is one of several siblings, children of Annie Green and a purported "white mill owner" (believed to have the surname, Vann), who left Louisburg and were passing as white. I've found mixed documentation on all of them, but not enough evidence to confirm that any of them were actually passing - at least not full time. However, I can clearly see that Jessie was married to a black man. He worked at a black hospital, was in a historically-black fraternity, and owned property in a black beach community. I feel fairly comfortable that she and her husband weren't passing, despite the fact that I've been told that by family members who actually knew them. Either way, I'm told over and over again that Jessie looked white. Even today, before writing this post, I called Christine to confirm some things and she reiterated that Jessie looked just like a white woman. I asked about her hair, and she said that looked like a white woman's, also. With that in mind, it's hard for me to think that this next photo is Jessie, although it would just really make sense for it to be, given that the two photos, above - the only other 8x10 framed photos in the bag - were of her husband. Could this be my cousin Jessie Green, Dr. Patterson's wife?
|This is the photo that was identified as probably being Jessie Green. I've had this one for several years. It was not with the recently-discovered photos.|
|This photo is encased in a hard, cracking black cardboard frame. When found, I had no idea what the context was and neither did my late cousin's wife, Christine.|
|This is one of the photos of Scotia Women's College shared with me by my Facebook friend, ItsMheMorris. I found the photo on the Internet and saw that it is labeled with the years 1915-1916. Everything about the building is the same as in my photo.|
The photo to the left is a screenshot from the YouTube video, "Long Live Barber-Scotia", which is featured on the "Our Heritage" page of the Barber-Scotia web site. Several similar photos are found in connection to Barber-Scotia's early days as Scotia Seminary and Scotia Women's College. In addition, Graves Hall, the building the group is seated in front of, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is described exactly as (what we can see of) the building in the photos.
In addition to the evidence already mentioned, which points to the photo being of Scotia, not Lincoln, the gentleman pictured in my photo (and on the one purported to be Lincoln Hospital) is also pictured in some of the others I've found online in connection with Scotia. He is, without a doubt, Scotia College's third president, Mr. A.W. Verner, who is shown here in this screenshot from the book,
Portraits Of The African-American Experience In Concord-Cabarrus, North Carolina 1860-2008.
So, there you have it. All the evidence points to this photo being of my cousin, Jessie Green's class at (most likely) Scotia Women's College. In addition, once I realized this, I pulled up the portrait of the young lady I'd been told was Jessie (above), and realized that the blouse she's wearing is of the same style as that of most of the young ladies in my photo. I've blown up the photo and closely inspected the features of each of the lighter-skinned females but still can't definitively say which one is Jessie - but I guess she has to be in there. Interestingly enough, there's one who looks like she could be that older lady (from above) but she would not be a match to the younger photo of Jessie. (In the re-post of the photo, below, I've indicated with green dots the only young ladies I think could be Jessie. I've added a yellow dot in the middle of the one I believe is most likely of the four, but the proof remains to be seen.
"Mystery photos" don't have to remain that way. As genealogists, we must simply apply our sleuthing skills in a different way and we must share with and ask help from our friends, thus bringing those long-hidden photos out of the darkness and into the LIGHT! (Couldn't help that one!) :)
Thanks for reading! If you have additional ideas or info about any of these photos, please leave a comment here on the blog. Thanks!
P.S. There were several other photos (and a few documents) in Christine's bag. I'll be coming back to share more about those at another time.
Portraits Of The African-American Experience In Concord-Cabarrus, North Carolina 1860-2008, Bernard Davis, Jr., Xlibris Corporation, 2010
Wikipedia contributors. (2018, May 31). Lincoln Hospital (Durham, NC). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:45, January 21, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.phptitle=Lincoln_Hospital_(Durham,_NC)&oldid=843736295