Mother said Pointing was Rude

bsmGODDARD Hattie
Click image for full view

I picked up this 1860s tintype on eBay.  I’m always a sucker for a great group photo and love the interesting angle this was shot at.  Where on earth was the photographer set up in order to capture it?  Was it taken from an upper story of a neighboring building?

Three people were pointing at the young lady in the middle wearing the check dress.  Were they teasing her about having a crush on the photographer?  Was it her birthday? Maybe it was her idea for them to gather for the photo.

The little girl bottom right looks like her hair was shaved.  She might have recently recovered from an illness that produced a high fever.  Victorians often cut the hair of the sick.  Whether this was an attempt to keep the patient’s head cool or simply done out of convenience I’m not sure.  Maybe it was a little of both.

bGODDARD Harriet L_not_mine
From Find a Grave

As a bonus, the young woman seated bottom left is identified.  She was Harriet L. Goddard, also known as Hattie.  Her home was in Webster, Massachusetts where her father, Joel, was a Coal and Lumber Dealer.  Hattie worked as a dressmaker and later a bookkeeper.  I can only presume the latter was for the family business.

1880 Apr 14 GODDARD Joel OBIT Fitchburg Sentinel Fitchburg MA
Apr. 14, 1880 ~ Fitchburg Sentinel (MA)

Hattie’s father was thrown from his buggy in 1880 and died of a skull fracture.  Hattie’s brothers, Emory and Henry, carried on the J. Goddard Company.  By the early 1900s they had expanded to sell doors, sashes, and blinds.

On November 24, 1894 Hattie died at the age of 51 years.  Her cause of death was listed as dropsy which was a Victorian medical term for edema (fluid retention.)  This might have been caused by congestive heart failure; kidney, liver, or thyroid issues; or a host of other ailments.  Hattie is at rest with her parents and siblings in Mount Zion Cemetery.

Census records
Find a Grave
Massachusetts death records



6 thoughts on “Mother said Pointing was Rude

  1. Wonderful group photo! Too bad more of the individuals in it aren’t identified. The life insurance policy being taken out 4 days before Mr. Goddard’s horrendous-sounding death seems suspicious to me, but then I’m always looking for a crime!

    Liked by 1 person

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