At Old Orchard

sJORDAN James family
Click image to enlarge

What a wonderful outdoor setting for a photograph.  But, does anything seem odd to you? Look at the way the family members are spread out.  I think the most glaring is the empty space next to the father.  Why didn’t his son, or his wife for that matter, sit beside him?  Is this how the photographer instructed the family to pose?  Or did each person choose where they would sit?  We’ll never know, but it definitely made for an interesting and beautiful image.

Written on the reverse is “Jordan family, Old Orchard.”  The photographer was Whittemore’s Photo Parlors, owned by A. Judson Whittemore, with locations in Salem, Massachusetts and Old Orchard, Maine.

I don’t think I’ve researched a family with as many interesting middle names.  The Jordan family consisted of (left to right); Eva Lawrence, Mary Arlene, Robert Montgomery, James Coffin, Tristram Ichabod, Josephine Rochester, and Belle (nee Brooks.)  Belle was James’ second wife.  His first wife, Nancy J. (nee Dusey), the mother of Eva, Robert, and Tristram, died in 1876, just a couple months after the birth of Robert.

Mary, the baby perched in the pram, was born in September 1884 which enables me to date this photo to the summer of 1885.  James and Bella went on to have one more child, a son, John Weldon, in 1887.

With only the family surname and location I wasn’t sure I would be able to make a certain identification.  Then I stumbled upon the photo shown below of Robert and John as adults, courtesy of a public tree, and this provided definitive proof that I had the correct Jordan family.  The boys may have aged, but their features sure didn’t change!


Tragically, James’ youngest children didn’t get the chance to know their father.  He died October 25, 1888, aged 48. I suspect that ‘shock of paralysis’  may have been a term used to describe a stroke.  Although, I couldn’t find a reference to support this theory.

1888 Oct 27 JORDAN James C OBIT Biddeford Daily Journal ME
Biddeford Daily Journal (ME) Oct. 27, 1888

Belle remained a widow for the remainder of her life.  Out of the girls, Mary was the only one to take a husband.  When she was 32 she wed Clarence Kelsea.  All of the children lived well past 80, with Robert making it to 98 years old.

Census records
Find A Grave
Family records
New York Public Library – Wallach Prints and Photographs

5 thoughts on “At Old Orchard

  1. Tristram Ichabod! And Coffin! What were they thinking? I guess acceptable names for kids have changed quite a bit. Enjoyed the photos and story. It’s not often you can find another photo to compliment the first one,

    Liked by 3 people

    1. When I was working, I collected odd names. One of my favorites was a lady – born around the turn of the century – who’s parents saddled he with the name Vesta Beulah. How’d you like to go through life being known as the front hallway?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, so the father in the top photo would have been only 45 at the time. People looked so much older back then for their ages. He is almost-kinda smiling though, too bad this one pic gives the impression that no one wanted to sit next to him. And I’ll bet Belle wasn’t much older than her stepdaughter.

    Liked by 3 people

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