Analyzing Old Family Photos

The Marnie and Rulon families

A wedding portrait?

This small, faded, torn photo was found jammed inside an album. It’s printed on normal paper, as though someone photo copied the original image. The photo is fairly small, which certainly wasn’t uncommon. I happened to scan and enlarge the image, just because I wanted to preserve it, but what I found has been far more interesting.

I believe this photo shows, left to right:

Back row, standing—Edwin T. Marnie (1894-1979) and William Batten Rulon (1854-1925)

Front row, sitting—Florence M. Marnie (1883-1962), Sarah (Smilling) Marnie (1860-1901), Edwin Goutch Marnie (1855-1913), Ann Wagner (Ottey) Rulon, and Mary Wagner (Rulon) Marnie.

I know that Edwin T. Marnie married Mary Wager Rulon in Philadelphia in 1907. He was 23, she was 20. They had their first and only child in 1909.

So, if this photo shows the two families as listed above, a few questions and problems come to mind:

  • What happened to Edwin Goutch Marnie’s right hand/arm? Once the photo was enlarged, I realized his right hand and arm don’t match the left and he appears to be wearing a black glove on the left hand. It’s hard to tell, but it appears the left hand or arm is a prosthetic. How and when did this happen?
  • Sarah (Smilling) Marnie died in 1901 according to an obituary and Philadelphia death certificate. In 1910, her husband and son are in the census listed as boarders. Edwin is listed as widowed.
  • So, was this photo taken before Sarah Marnie died in 1901 (indicating the families knew each other well before the marriage in 1907) or is the woman not Sarah Marnie at all? Perhaps Edwin remarried or the woman is his sister, Lavinia Marnie (1861-?).
  • The woman, who could be Sarah (Smilling) Marnie or someone else, is also pictured in other photos with Edwin T. and Mary W. Marnie and their son. Whoever this is, she definitely lived past 1909 when Edwin and Mary’s son was born.
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