Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dressed up like cowboys c.1910

"Cliff Purdy and Uncle Lou" 

The back of this photo that I inherited from my Great Aunt Gladys (by way of my Aunt Yvonne) says, "Cliff Purdy and Uncle Lou". Cliff (on the right) was Gladys' and my great grandmother Blanche's brother. His real name was Jonathan Clifford Purdy, but everyone always called him Cliff. He was born on April 17, 1892 in Minnesota to Jonathan Edward Purdy and Jennie Cole Purdy. Jennie was raised by her Cole grandparents and grew up with her uncle Lewis Fredrick Cole. I believe that Lewis is the "Uncle Lou" in the photo (on the left). He was extremely close to Jennie and it has been said that he considered her his sister rather than his niece. Since Cliff's father died shortly after his birth and Lewis never had any children of his own, it is not hard to imagine that Cliff may have also enjoyed a close relationship with his (great) uncle. Lewis was born on June 4, 1855 in New York -the last child of Asa Cole and Mary Eastman. He lived in many different places during his life, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Washington.

Since this Real Photo postcard has AZO and four triangles pointing up where the stamp is to be placed, it must be from between 1904-1918. Only in the 1910 Federal Census were both Lewis and Cliff living in Washington State, so that timeframe fits nicely. There is no photographer stamp, so I have nothing else substantial to go on to place an exact date for this photo. I did find other "fake cowboy" photos from 1910 and, in one, the men were even wearing fuzzy pants just like Cliff is wearing here. In 1910 Cliff would have been 18 and Lewis would have been 55, which looks about right, so I will tentatively date the photo then.

I wonder if they were at a fair or just went to a studio to have their photo taken for fun. Cliff (like his mother)obviously enjoyed having his picture taken since I have inherited so many of him, including a number of other Real Photo postcards. It is funny to me that they pretended to be cowboys. Lewis had, no doubt, experienced many real adventure while moving West along the frontier, yet he apparently still enjoyed a good game of dress-up (or, maybe, he just wanted to please his favorite nephew)!

Happy Sepia Saturday!


  1. Maybe it was at a fair. in any case, the outfits and the photo are priceless.

  2. This is a fun photo. I think it's interesting how they are both leaning to the left (as we look at the photo). You've done some good detective work to date the photo.

  3. A lovely photo to have and I liked the background text to go with it; it is so good to be able to place it in a certain time period.

  4. Great photograph which takes us back to the days when having your photograph was an occasion rather than an upload from a mobile phone.

  5. Oh I love this photo! Those fuzzy chaps were sometimes called Woolies and they were worn in colder climates. I believe they were made from saggy long haired goats. This is a way cool photo:)