Sunday, October 6, 2013

Unknown Pilgrim Wedding

Whose wedding is this?  When do you think it was taken?

Many of you would remember James Pilgrim senior from my prior posts.  Someone has marked him with an asterix in this photo. (Gee I hate it when people do this!  Write it on the back or copy the photo and write it on the copy!)

James Pilgrim senior has been marked with an asterix

The photo is not easy to see, so with my limited knowledge of Photoshop, I did some simple adjustments to make it clearer;

Click to enlarge

When I zoom in closer, James Pilgrim has a flower in his lapel, which indicates that he is related to one of the people being married.  He is on our right of the bride, so he is most likely related to her. But who is she?

Four of James' daughters were married;
Catherine "Amy" Pilgrim married James Abraham Weir on 22 July 1885 at Winiam
Alice Munson Pilgrim married Henry Westendorf on 15 May 1890 at Winiam
Emma Sarah Pilgrim married James Richard Oldfield on 14th January 1896 at Winiam
Eleanor Elizabeth "Bess" Pilgrim married Ernest Muller on 17th February 1902 at Winiam

The photo is more than likely taken on James' property.  It was reported in Victoria and its Metropolis, written in 1888, "Mr Pilgrim, who has had charge of the Winiam post-office for some time, has one of the nicest gardens in the Wimmera, fruit trees, grape vines and flowers growing luxuriantly."  The old photo does not do it justice but it is easy to imagine that the garden looked lovely.

I am not a gardener (as I don't have time) but I immediately discounted Amy and Alice's wedding.  I don't think that the flowers would be growing in Autumn and Winter in Australia, but am happy to be corrected.

If this photo is of one of James's daughters weddings, then it is likely that my Great Great Grandmother Mary Ann is pictured as she lived until May 1902.  Could I be that lucky?   No, I don't think so as it is too difficult to tell.

Left:  My Great Great Grandfather James Pilgrim is pictured in the centre.  Could either of the ladies be my Great Great Grandmother?
Right:  The only known (poor quality) photo of  my Great Great Grandmother, Mary Ann Pilgrim (nee Warner)

There are no known photos of Emma Sarah Pilgrim, who died two years after her wedding (swallowed a pin).  However there is a painting of her husband James Abraham Weir (below).  Could this wedding photo be the only photo of Emma Pilgrim?

Do you think the grooms are the same?
James Abraham Weir on the right
Too difficult to say.  The hairline is opposite.  But I don't "feel" it is the same man.

So then I compared to photos I had of Ern Muller and Bess Pilgrim, who married in 1902.

Unknown Couple - Ern Muller 1908 - Bess and Ern Muller 1928
Still no luck.  They do not look like the same people either.  Now what?  I was stuck.  Looking at the faces of those in the wedding photo, I thought that I could recognise some of the Pilgrim brothers, with their huge moustaches.  Then a lady with her baby "jumped out" at me.  Could it be?  My heart rate actually accelerated.  Surely not! I went looking through my photos to find a match.

Could this be the same people?
Left:  Unknown mother and baby from front mid right of wedding photo
Right:  Mabel Pilgrim and Eva Pilgrim 1911
Same high cheekbones and big hair.  The neck brooch, shirt and skirt look like they could be the same?  The baby's hair has that same dark curl and the skirt line is similar.
The lady on the right is my Great Grandmother, Mabel Pilgrim (nee Geyer) who married one of James Pilgrim's sons.  The wedding photo was found in a box of photos previously belonging to Mabel Pilgrim. The baby is my grandmother, Eva Pilgrim.  The photo on the right was a Geyer family gathering but maybe they had limited "good" clothes and the same were worn in both photos?
The first photo is so old with so little detail, that it is really hard to tell.

My family history program allows me to sort by date of marriage.  If this was my grandmother, then the wedding would have been in 1911. I quickly sorted them and discounted the wedding of two of the Pilgrim brothers (as I have their wedding photos).  The only one remaining was Caroline Sarah "Carrie" Warner, who is the niece of James Pilgrim.  Carrie and her siblings were orphaned at a young age and were brought up by James and Mary Ann Pilgrim so it was a possibility? I hadn't considered the nieces before.

Unknown bride and Carrie Warner

The date of marriage I had for Carrie Warner to Gilbert Blythman was "1912".  It didn't fit but I thought I would order a certificate as maybe the marriage was registered in the following year?  Unfortunately not.  Carrie and Gilbert were married on James Pilgrim's property on 30 September 1912. I don't think that the baby could be my grandmother as she would have been age two in September 1912 and the baby pictured looks younger, maybe it is her brother Lloyd born June 1912?  The initial photo is just too poor quality to match.

Carries sister, Maria - known  also as Ria - was married in 1913 and it is definitely not Ria's wedding as I have a copy of their wedding photo and the groom, George Ridgwell, has a thick dark moustache in their wedding photos.

James and Mary Ann Pilgrim also brought up Emma's young daughter, their granddaughter, but I have confirmed that it is not her wedding photo either.

So I still don't know whose wedding it is!

Please label your photo's so that your ancestors know who is pictured.

Inspired by Sepia Saturday.Click for more posts.


  1. I know what you mean about people writing on photos, but plenty of those disfigured snapshots have helped me to know who the people are... so I have mixed feelings in that respect.

  2. It's kind of fun sleuthing through old photographs. I've recently been doing that & once you know who someone is for certain in one photo, it aids in the search to figure out who is who in others - though some can be a real challenge like your Pilgrim wedding shot.

  3. Swallowed a pin? Oh my goodness -- what an awful way to die!

  4. Wow, that was some big wedding!!! The picture had to be taken outdoors so most guests could be included in the picture!

  5. A pity your detective work didn't come up with some definitive answers

  6. I'm with Deb - the bit about the pin stuck with me pun intended.

  7. Yikes, pins are a bit scary! My sister-in-law is a tailor and it's like a pin-warfare! Maybe someday you'll discover who actually got married, but in the meantime, great photos, although clearly the clearer the better!

  8. Great effort at trying to identify people in that photograph! I have one of a large gathering of family and friends who attended the 50th wedding anniversary of my 2x great grandparents Adam and Charlotte Cruickshank, and while I can identify them, their children including my great grandfather Charles and his son/ my grandfather Oliver, that's about as far as it goes, and there must be close to 100 people in the photograph.

  9. Good sleuthing! Swallowed a pin??? YIKES!

  10. A fascinating account of photo detection. It is marvellous what you achieved with Photoshop in bringing out the detail on the wonderful wedding photo. I think you could be right about Mabel and Eva Pilgrim. The mother has the same tilt of her head in both photographs and same shape of face.

  11. The photographs looks so clear after you photoshopped it. I wonder if you could blow it up clearer if you scanned it at a higher resolution? Seems a shame not to be able to identify those people!

  12. Good effort to try to clarify individuals from that large photo. Whenever I see large group photos I always hope that they'll be clear when I scan and enlarge them to have a look. It doesn't usually happen, though. And darn that they didn't bother to write the names of everyone somewhere -- on the back, on another piece of paper, almost anywhere, really, that wouldn't interfere with the faces. Except I'm with you in not liking writing on the fronts.


  13. The picture looks pretty good after yu edited it.

  14. I've noticed that photos of my ancestors that include lots of people often don't have the names written on them. I suppose that someone thought that it would be a lot of work to label them all. If only they had thought ahead to future generations looking at the photos.

  15. Wonderful photo! However, it looks like a gazillion brides -- everyone has a bouquet!! I'm sure in no time you'll be posting a follow-up that you figured it out. I do think you properly identified Mabel Pilgrim at the wedding - not just the clothes and pin and big hair but the way she holds her head. And the baby's dress too -- look at the hem.

  16. I say "yeah" for Mabel; for the rest, you're on your own!!
    Quite perplexing, that picture...
    Good luck with that!!

  17. So Many People!And Mary Ann had beautiful striking features.