Willie and Dorothy

By: usermattw

Sep 30 2013

Tags: , ,

Category: Children, Pairs


Click here to view it larger.

Click here to view the back.

What it is:

Real photo post card measuring a bit less than 3.5 x 5.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is J. Hargreaves of Dalton-In-Furness, Ulverston, and Millom [three small towns in Cumbria, a county in northwest England].  Written on the back in the message section is 25 Victoria St / November 6th / Dear Mrs Cummings / How do you like the photo, it is very good of Willie but Dorothy has moved her eyes.  We all wish you Many Happy Returns of the 20th.  Bill has been out of work since Tuesday + no sign of a start as yet.  Love to you all from us all.  I remain your Sincere Friend -Katie / xxxxxxxxxxxxx For Willie.  Written in the address section is Willie Swindle age 4 years 10 mths / Dorothy Swindle 6 months.  The “2-” in the upper right corner is presumably the price written by a previous antique dealer.


Part of what makes this one interesting, besides the adorable studio photo of two kids posed on a fake stone bridge, is all the writing on the back.  If I were more inspired to do the genealogical research right now, I could use the names and ages to pinpoint the year this photo was taken.  (I found samples of this photographer’s work from the early 1890s, but I get the sense this one is a bit more recent.)  I wonder at the relationship between the sender and recipient.  Apparently they were the wives/mothers of two different families.  Just friends, or perhaps distant relations?  Katie signs using her first name, calls herself a sincere friend, and offers such familiarities as news of her husband’s unemployment and kisses from her son, yet addresses it to “Mrs. Cummings” instead of using a first name, even though this card was presumably put in some outer mailing envelope.  Was that normal, I wonder?  Speaking of the familiarities, I wonder what Bill’s line of work was, and what his prospects were.  And I’m delighted to see the thirteen x’s, since I didn’t realize that the x was a symbol for kisses even back then.  Also, I didn’t find an appropriate holiday on November 20, so I’m assuming it’s something like a birthday or anniversary.

8 comments on “Willie and Dorothy”

  1. Oh goodie, a detective challenge…and it was easy! Katie is Catherine Swindle, married to William (Bill) and they have to children William and Dorothy. The year is 1910 and they live in Dalton-In-Furness. I’ll take a quick peek to see if Mrs Cummings is related or truly a sincere friend. 🙂

    • Hey, thanks, Mrs. P! It’s nice when the clues fall neatly into place. And 1910 is about what I would have guessed, so it’s good to have the confirmation. Much appreciated!

  2. Additional info: Catherine’s maiden name is Johns but this is very common and I couldn’t locate her family with certainty. She did have two younger sisters, Charity and Bessie (prob. Elizabeth) but no dad was mentioned on the census. It gets pretty tricky when you don’t have any make names. “Bill’s” work was a ship fitter. That’s all my quick look allows, no info on Mrs. Cummings.

  3. To expand on Mrs. P’s research, the Swindles lived at 25 Victoria. So, my guess is that Mrs. Cummings was a neighbor. I tried to confirm, but it took to many clicks. On another note, I’ve started reading a Dickens book, but switched to a Trollope. The Swindles had a neighbor with the wonderful last name of Heavyside. Also, several of their neighbors also worked in the ship yard.

    • Oh crap, I made a mistake! The address on the back is 25 Victoria, not 28. (I’ve corrected it above.) As you can see from the scan on the back, the number 5 is written with the sort of flourish that makes it look like an 8 if you aren’t paying enough attention. But still, I like your idea that Mrs. Cummings was a neighbor, not a close enough friend or relation that you would address by the first name, but somebody you see often enough in the neighborhood that you can show some familiarity. I wonder if it’s also possible that the more formal “Mrs.” is used because Mrs. Cumming is much older. And if she’s a neighbor, then perhaps the card was hand-delivered, explaining why it wasn’t run through the mail. Thanks for this extra research!

  4. Oh good. Glad my lack of time and energy to do further research on Mrs. Cummings was a good thing. BTW: If it was the same Willie Swindle, he died in 1977. Also, someone has The Swindles on their family tree on Ancestry.com.

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