Here is the photo:
This photo was found in the collection of photos that came to me from my father. It is in rather pathetic condition. He, and most of his ancestors, lived along the east coast, hurricane country. The original is seriously faded, her image is barely there. Scanning and several of my feeble attempts at digital enhancement got the image this far. That is not saying a lot, but you can see her face and clothing.
Hints to help identify are slim, her hair style and clothing, are the two most obvious. There is something not seen in this presentation, information that the photo was taken in Knoxville Tennessee. After starting this blog I decided to see if I could discover more about the photographer, dug out a hard copy of the photo, and rescanned the corner with the name. With enlarged, enhanced scan and a good ole fashioned magnifying glass I discovered the name of the photographer to be Brakebill-McCoy. A google search found that some of their photos found their way to the University of Tennessee Special Collections Library as described here. Another reference was found at Rootsweb.com, TNKNOX-L Archives,where a researcher with access to Knoxville directories found the photographer listed from at least 1901 to about 1909.
I am not the best at placing clothing and hairstyles in a time frame, so I went to Fashion-Era.com. On the page dealing with 1904 Weddings, we see similarity to the dress in this photo. Another page from Fasion-Era.com deals with hair styles, 1900-1914, see the drawing on the very first row, 1908, again, to me, and my untrained eye, similiarity.
I believe this is the sister of my great-grandmother, Laverta or Leverta Eley. She was born between 1870 and 1872 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Family tradition has it that she was institutionalized. Family traditions continue by saying that her husband, may have been a "Yankee" and that she may have suffered a mental breakdown in childbirth.
I have a marriage for her in 1886 in Norfolk County, Virginia to one Joseph Etheridge, who was born in Virginia. I have no idea what happened to Joseph, 1900 census and directories for the area are inconclusive.
I have not found Laverta on the 1910 census. She is referred to as Mrs. H. A. Bates of Nashville Tennessee in her mother's obituary (1914). I did a detailed search of the Nashville Tennessee directories, the first reference to Laverta, is in 1914 for Harold A. (Laberta) Bates. I can find Harold as early as 1907 in Nashville. We can follow Harold and Laverta in the directories till around 1920, but, we have not located them on the 1920 census. By the way, never have found a marriage for Harold and Laverta.
In 1930 I actually find a Leverta Bates on the census two different times, one of those entries, we note, seems to support the family tradition that she was institutionalized.
1930 U.S. Census of Manhattan, New York City, New York County, New York: Harold A. Bates, rents home at $100.00 a month, owns radio set, age 54 years, married, age at time of first marriage 22, born New York, both parents born New York, sales manager for soap manufacturer; Leverta W., wife, age 46, age at time of first marriage 20, born Virginia, both parents born Virginia.
1930 U.S. Census of Middletwon, Orange County, New York, Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital: Leverta Bates, age 53, married, born Virginia, both parents born Virginia, inmate.
No death record has been found for Laverta.
I have studied my data base over and over, trying to discover other possibilities, could this be Lorena, Laverta's sister? I suppose so, but Lorena was married 5 times, was widowed several times, had 6 children with the first two husbands, ran a boarding house pretty much by herself, supporting herself and her children. Not sure she ever had the time to get to Knoxville. Other females that would be related to my father have also been eliminated (for now) from possible consideration.
Is this photo really Laverta? I believe so, but am not sure I will ever prove it. I have shared this photo with other researchers that are interested in this family/clan. So far, no one knows who this lovely young lady was.