She Wore Mittens

b GREENE Mabel

This is a cabinet card photograph, identified on the back as “Mabel F. Greene, 5 years old, 1883.”  The photographer was W.C. Foote of Flint, Michigan.  I was attracted to the image because I’m a knitter, and the little girl is wearing knitted mittens.

I imagined the mother, a grandmother, or maybe an aunt, knitting the mittens for Mabel, as a special gift.   However, after some research, I suspect they were likely purchased from a shop, and not just any shop.  Mabel’s father, Edward C. Greene, was a clothing merchant, and operated E.C. Green Company in Flint, and also Jackson, Michigan.

At the time Mabel posed for this photo, her mother, Caroline (nee Fairbanks), was dead.  Caroline died September 19, 1882, leaving Mabel, 4; a son, Arthur, 2; and an infant daughter, Jennie May, who followed her to the grave in October.

A friend saw this image, and said it looked like Mabel was standing next to a coffin.  She wondered if this might be a photo to represent her mother’s passing.  The studio pillar does remind me of a crypt.  I suspect the cross helps bring that imagery to mind.

It seems Mabel had a passion for music.   She attended college in Mt. Holyoke, Massachusetts, and when she returned home, she gave piano and music lessons.  It was also reported, in the local newspaper, the Jackson Citizen Patriot, that she often provided the accompaniment music at events in the community.

Mabel never married.  After her father’s death, sometime before 1930, she and her brother, Arthur, took over the clothing business.  About 1940, the two moved from Michigan to Los Angeles, California, where Arthur died in 1965, and Mabel in 1967.

Census records
Various newspaper articles – Jackson Citizen Patriot
California death records
Find A Grave
Daughters of the American Revolution records
Genealogy of the Fairbanks family in America – Ancestry

6 thoughts on “She Wore Mittens

  1. Kind of odd she’d be wrapped up in winter gear for a studio portrait. You’d think her guardian would want to show off a pretty dress. But maybe that adds to the feel of her being outdoors in a cemetery.

    Liked by 2 people

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