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I couldn't find time to post an entry in my "old family photo" series last month, since I was busy welcoming my first grandchild, born March 20th. We aren't posting pictures of the baby online, but believe me she's a cutie, just like her great-great-grandmother, pictured here with her own grandfather, Thomas Bean.

This photo was taken in 1911-1912 after Thomas (who is my great-great-grandfather) arrived in the United States. He was born in 1849 in Middlesex, England, and married Ellen Elizabeth Blackshaw in 1872. They had six children before Ellen divorced Thomas in 1884 and sailed to America in 1884. I would love to know more details about their story, since Thomas apparently came to the US eventually and remarried Elizabeth.

One of Thomas and Elizabeth's children was Ellen Elizabeth Bean, also known as Nellie Bean. The baby in this photo (my grandmother, Mabelle Irene Luthy) is her ninth child, out of a total of twelve children, all of them born to her and her husband Albert Frederick Luthy, in their log home in Rexburg, Idaho from the early 1890's to about 1920.

All this is to say that women during that time could be assured that their adult life would likely revolve mostly around having babies and caring for children. These were obviously the days long before reliable birth control was available. As I've written my fictionalized account of the life of one young woman in this era, Belle Waters, I had to acknowledge the truth that this would most likely be her life--having and raising babies. It is not such a bad thing, as I was recently reminded when caring for my now three-week-old granddaughter, but it does limit a woman's role in the world, particularly when they have the number of children that was common in these years: six for my great-great grandmother, Ellen Elizabeth Bean, and twelve for her daughter, Nellie Bean Luthy.

I hope to resume this post series at a somewhat more frequent pace, now that I'm back for awhile from temporary baby duty. More old photos to come soon!


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