Saturday, August 23, 2008

Miss Daisy Lets Her Hair Down

I was going through an old family trunk recently. The trunk had belonged to my uncle’s Riley family in the southern part of old Itawamba County. From this family I have old letters, mementos, photographs, books and the like. My uncle, Samuel Feemster Riley, was born in 1890 on the family’s farm on Shoaf Creek. The cotton farm had been settled by his grandfather John Riley in 1839. Like many of the early settlers of southwestern Itawamba County, he brought his family to Mississippi from the Edgefield and Newberry districts area of South Carolina.

In all of the old family photographs of this family, the women have their hair up in a typical Edwardian style. However I came across one photograph showing Daisy Riley’s hair down (shown above).

Daisy Riley, my uncle’s older sister, was born on February 15, 1886 and lived on the family farm all he life. Never marrying, she died on September 3, 1930. It is fascinating reading old letters she received and looking at picture postcards she collected. And Miss Daisy, as she was called, had quite a sense of humor. In one old book she had received from her uncle, Congressman Rankin in Washington, she had painstakingly penned the names, and birthdays of all her siblings on the inside front of the book. However, she left out her own birthday from the list, simply giving clever clues where her birth date could be found within the 200-page volume.

Looking through all the old family letters and photographs from the trunk has shown me a small slice of life from times past. It has also brought back many childhood memories of visiting the old farm and especially exploring the old secluded main house of large rooms with tall ceilings, standing proud in a clearing overlooking the cotton fields of Shoaf Creek bottom.

The above was written for the 5th edition of Smile for the Camera – A Carnival of Images. Smile for the Camera is a monthly showcase of articles that feature the very best of family photographs and those orphan photographs contained in collections.


Kathryn Lake Hogan said...

Great photo! Did you find Miss Daisy's birthdate from the clues in book?

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

She'd got such long hair, I bet that took some looking after :)

Thanks for sharing the photo and story with us... It's funny how some people are elusive with their age!

Bob Franks said...

Looking4ancestors, I certainly did find her birthdate. She certainly made it difficult though. Thanks nikki-ann for your nice comments!

Brett Payne said...

That's a wonderful photograph and an interesting story, thank you Bob. It is unusual to see a young woman of her age (I estimate that she's in her early twenties at the time of the portrait) with her hair down like this. I presume the colourful and decorative surrounds are from the album page - or is it the actual mount? I'm looking forward to seeing more images of photographs from your collection.

Regards, Brett