The topic of this post comes from the Shades of the Departed blog’s 9th Edition of Smile for the Camera. She asks us to explore an unknown photo from our family history photo collection.
My grandmother, Marjorie (Posson) Hait, inspired my love for family history when I was just nine years old and she showed me a copy of a pedigree chart. She would always tell me stories about her grandmother, who immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, from Ireland back in the late 19th century, to work as a maid and cook for a pair of wealthy spinster sisters. Mary Frances Connell, who became O’Connell in the U. S., married my grandmother’s grandfather Stephen George Reittinger, the son of German Catholic immigrants, after meeting him on a visit to cousins in Albany, New York. In their old age, Mary F. and Stephen G. Reittinger lived with their daughter Mary’s family, husband Clarence Posson, daughters Irene, Marjorie (my grandmother), and son Kenneth, in Schenectady, New York. Sadly, Mary F. (Connell) Reittinger died in the spring of 1945, when my grandmother graduated high school.
One of my grandmother’s most prized heirlooms was an antique photo album that had belonged to her grandmother. The album itself is beautiful — I wish I had a photo of it to post here as well — and is stuffed full of turn of the century and older tintypes and cards. Several of them are identified as my great-great-grandparents and other close family members, but the majority of them, including all of the tintypes, are not labeled. (Mary Frances is the woman on the right in the front row of the third photograph.) My grandmother was never able to identify them, and at this point, it seems unlikely that there will ever be an answer. Some of the oldest photos show older people, so it could be possible that the people in these photos are seven or more generations back, in Ireland or Germany!
Stephen George Reittinger was the son of Stephen and Agnes (Herres/Harris) Reittinger. Mary Frances Connell/O’Connell was the daughter of Patrick and Bridget (Connell) Connell of Counties Galway and Mayo, Ireland, respectively. Could one of these photos be of their parents, or even their grandparents? Were the photos even taken in the United States? Could they have been taken in Ireland or Germany and sent to their newly-American relatives? Who are you people?!?