Thursday, June 5, 2014

Baby to Manhood

When I began the research session for this photo of a young boy, I did not have high hopes that I would find much.  The identification on the reverse is "Ruffell Hathaway" and I was convinced that someone had misinterpreted the old-fashioned cursive "s" and this would turn out to be Russell.   In fact, the name of his young child was indeed Ruffell Hathaway and there were numerous records to be found to flesh out his story, including additional photos at other stages of his life.

The photographer was E. J. Covey of Stansberry, Missouri, and helpfully the stamp included the year of the photo, 1892.  Stansberry is in Gentry County, Missouri, and Ruffell was found living in Gentry County in 1900 with his parents, two brothers and two sisters.  There is some discrepancy in the records regarding the name of his mother, which the census shows as Sarah and the public trees submitted to Ancestry shows as Laura.  All of them agree his father is Elijah Elwood Hathaway.

The next census record I found was 1930, and by that point Ruffell was married with 3 children and living in Newcastle, Wyoming, working as a foreman for the railroad.  His wife, Mecia, was teaching school.  Ten years later in 1940, the family is still in Newcastle, with Ruffell working on a WPA project and Mecia working as a hotel maid.

Ruffell registered for the WWI draft in 1917, giving his full name as Ruffell Vanburen Hathaway, born on April 30, 1890, living in Roget, Wyoming, farming with a wife and three children to support.  He is described as short, medium build, brown eyes and black hair.  Under possible disability, he writes that he has suffered a broken ankle.

The family moved to California and are listed in the Los Angeles City Directory in 1949.  The California death index tells us that Ruffell died on March 19, 1956, in Los Angeles.  I was not able to uncover where he is buried, nor did I find Mecia's death record.  Ruffell's mother's name is still in question, as his death record indicates her maiden name is Pettit, while the family trees on Ancestry all show her as Laura Etta Neal.

Ruffell turns up in a number of family trees on Ancestry and several of them include photographs of Ruffell.  The following is a picture I would guess at somewhere in the neighborhood of age 12 and you can see a lot of similarity to the 2 year old in the photo I have in my possession.

A later photograph (I believe this is cropped from a larger photo with his brother that is also frequently present in these family trees) shows Ruffell much later in life.  I can still see a resemblance to the younger Ruffell.

I can think of only a couple of other instances in which I've found other photos online of the folks whose photos I've rescued.  This is the first time I've seen photos from 3 different ages.


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