The Best of the Best

The young woman in this cabinet card photo, Miss Anna Price, wore a dress with tight sleeves and small pointed puffs at the shoulders. This helps to date her portrait from about 1889 to 1891 when she would have been 14-16 years old.

Sarah Anna Price was born in 1875 in Tonica, Illinois. She married Leland Jones, a traveling salesman, in 1893. The couple settled in Bloomington, Illinois and had three children; Edwin, Lawrence, and Donald.

About 1895 ~ Anna standing 2nd from the right; Seated in front of her is her husband Leeland Jones.
The other adults in the photo are Anna’s mother and siblings. I believe the baby is Anna’s son, Edwin.
Photo courtesy of Don E. Jones, Jr

During my research I connected with Don E. Jones, Jr., grandson of Anna (or Nan as he called her). He told me that upon his grandmother’s death, he came into possession of diaries she faithfully kept over the years. He’d hoped the pages would reveal more about her daily life (and so did I) but her entries were mostly about people who stopped by and the weather. A particularly difficult passage to read was one written on a Christmas day when he and his parents were unable to visit. Anna wrote “this is the loneliest Christmas I have ever had.” With the current pandemic, I imagine many of us can relate to these feelings of solitude.

Anna suffered many a loss throughout her life. At the age of six, she was left to mourn the death of her father, Albert, who lost his battle with cancer. Edwin, her firstborn child, died a year or so after the family photo above was taken. Anna’s mother Lydia (Garrett) and her sisters, Mary and Clara, died in the 1930s. Anna’s husband passed in 1940.

L to R: Anna, Leeland, Larry, and Donald abt. 1910
Photo courtesy of Don E. Jones, Jr.

Anna was the sole caregiver for her son, Larry, until his death in 1950. According to his obituary he contracted influenza while serving in WWI and became bedridden. Anna followed Larry to the grave in 1951 and is buried in Park Hill Cemetery in Bloomington. Don said “Nan lived one year more almost to prove that she did not need to have her son as a reason to live.”

Photo courtesy of Don E. Jones, Jr.

I’ll end with a four generation photograph from about 1930. Seated on the right is Anna’s mother. The man is Anna’s son, Don E. Jones, and Anna is looking up at her grandson, Don Jr. I like to imagine the joy she felt at this moment in time.

The way that now grown up little boy, Don, speaks about his grandmother, the memories of her that he carries to this day…I know that Anna was truly the best of the best!

4 thoughts on “The Best of the Best

  1. Sometimes it is the job of our imagination to fill in the gaps which surround unknown photographs, and other times we learn the stories from those who knew the person best. I like both.

    Liked by 2 people

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