Grandma’s Friend

b PAUL Jennie

This carte de visite was a gift from a fellow collector.  I love the simplistic style.  On the back is written “Jennie Paul friend of Grandma Armstrong’s.”  Jennie had her image captured at the photography studio of Alexander & Stevens in Morristown, New Jersey.

Jane Amanda “Jennie” Paul was 9 years old when her mother, Catherine (Yard), died in 1854.  Her father, Mifflin Paul, a railroad conductor and superintendent, remarried the following year and in 1860 was living in North Hampton, New Jersey with his wife, Martha, her children, and their two servants.  Jennie and her sister Julie, 11, were living twenty miles away, in Hamilton, with their older sister, Laura, aged 20.  Laura’s occupation was recorded as a farmer.  I wonder why the girls weren’t living with their father.  The fact that he could afford to employ two servants tells me it wasn’t due to a lack of his financial ability to provide for his daughters.

Laura died in 1865.  Jennie died in 1870, just two years after her marriage to Daniel W. Bedford.  Jennie’s cause of death was consumption, also known as tuberculosis.  I wonder if Laura’s cause of death was the same.

Another question about this cdv “Who was Grandma Armstrong?”  I can only make an educated guess.  I found Virginia Voorhees Ashmore, 13, living in Trenton, New Jersey in 1860.  This was just 6 miles from where Jennie was living in Hamilton.  Virginia married Samuel Armstrong in 1872.

If I’ve found the correct Grandma Armstrong, these childhood friends lived very different lives.  Virginia grew up with the benefit of her parents’ wealth and stability.  Jennie was not so lucky.  And, Virginia lived to be 91, far surpassing Jennie’s short time on earth.

Virginia’s daughter, Katherine, never married.  Her son, Henry Watson Armstrong, had two children, Virginia and Malcolm.  It would have been one of Henry’s children who penned the note on the back of this photo.

Census records
New Jersey death records
Find A Grave




2 thoughts on “Grandma’s Friend

  1. Lovely, delicate but rather melancholy photograph. Poor Jennie, to have lost her mother and then to die so young herself. As for living with her sister rather than her father, I come across similar situations a few times. It’s as if the father starts afresh with a new family. Of course, it may have been the girl’s choice to move to their sister’s home, but there does seem to be some convention to it too.

    Liked by 2 people

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