The Definitive Dwiggins no. 103—An Undated Photograph of Eva Siegfried

Miss Mary Fisher and students (c.1867–1868). Photographer unknown. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

Miss Mary Fisher and students (c.1867–1868). Photographer unknown. Courtesy Special Collections, Boston Public Library.

This photograph (which I have cropped from its frame) of a group of young women is in the 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection at the Boston Public Library. [1] Someone—most likely Eva S. Dwiggins, WAD’s mother—has written below it: “Della Vandam, Della Strickle (two visitors), Fannie Diboll, Katie Hibben, Miss Mary Fisher—teacher—Eva Siegfried, Nettie Harlen, Lucy Harlen, Emma Taylor, Katie Marble, Ella Siegfried, Eva Eldridge, & Ollie Welch.” Several of the names are misspelled, suggesting that the attribution was made when Eva was in her old age and living in Hingham, Massachusetts with her son and daughter-in-law. [2]

The photograph is undated, but it probably was taken when Eva and her sister Ella were in school in Wilmington, Ohio. Their father, the Rev. B.Y. Siegfried, had several pastorates there, but the only one that fits with the young age of the women is the first which lasted from December 1866 to May 1868. If the photograph was made in 1867, then Ella (born in 1853) and Eva (born in 1855) would have been fourteen and twelve respectively. The other girls in the photograph were of a similar age, with the exception of Nettie Harlan who was younger. With the exception of the Siegfried sisters, all of them were living in Wilmington in 1870. [3]  The latter were in nearby Sabina in Greene Township. [4] Here is my identification of each girl:

Della Vandam is probably Delia Vandoren (b. 1855) as there is no one with the surname of Vandam (or Van Dam) living in Ohio (other than Cleveland) in either the 1860 or 1870 United States Censuses. In the 1870 census she is Delia, but in the 1860 census she is Bell.
Della Strickle is Adilla Strickle (b. 1855).
Fannie DiBoll is Sarah Frances Diboll (b. 1853).
Katie Hibben (b. 1855) is Louisa C. [Catharine] Hibben; she is mistranscribed as Kabe L. in the 1870 United States Census, but she is L. Katie Hibben on her 1872 marriage license.
Nettie Harlen is Netta (Nettie) Harlan (b. 1857).
Lucy Harlen is Lucy Harlan (b. 1855).
Emma Taylor (b. 1854).
Katie Marble is Catherine (Kate) A. Marble (b. 1854/1855).
Eva Eldridge is probably Eva Eldrid (b. 1854); in the 1870 United States Census she is listed as age 15, but in the 1880 census—where she appears as Eva Eldred living in Turtle Creek in Warren County, Ohio—she is listed as age 27.
Ollie Welch is Olive Linton (b. 1855). [5]

Since all of the girls lived in Wilmington, it is puzzling that Eva described Delia Vandoren and Adilla Strickle as “visiting.”

It is unclear who Miss Mary Fisher, the teacher, is. Mary F. Fisher (b. 1839) is the only Mary Fisher to appear in both the 1860 and 1870 United States Censuses in Clinton County, but she is in Liberty Township rather than Union Township (which surrounded Wilmington). Furthermore, in the latter she is described as being “at home” rather than having an occupation. Mary C. Fisher (age unknown) does not appear in either census, but she is listed as having married Harrison W. McFadden in Wilmington in January 1869. It is possible she moved to Clinton County after the 1860 census and that she and her husband left before the 1870 census—though they do not appear anywhere in the latter. Finally, there is Mary Fisher (b. 1848) who married Allen Quinn in 1869 in Wilmington. She is listed in the 1870 census as keeping house. She seems to be the best candidate for the teacher in the photograph.

Who is who in the photograph—other than Miss Fisher—is difficult to know since Eva’s notation did not list people by row. Based on another photograph of Eva before she was married, I believe the girl sitting in front of Miss Fisher to the right is Eva. If so, then the girl at the far right in the front row would be her sister Ella. The two girls in the front row at the left look like sisters which would mean they are Lucy and Nettie Harlan. If my guesses about the two sets of sisters are correct, then the sequence in which Eva has listed the girls bears no relation to their position in the photograph.

Since the photograph includes a teacher, the setting is either a public school or a Sunday School. Prior to the construction of Union School in 1870, the public school in Wilmington was the Wilmington Seminary at Locust and Mulberry Streets. [6] By 1882 there was a Baptist Sunday School in Wilmington, but apparently not before 1868. However, a Methodist Sunday School is listed in Wilmington in the 1866 annual report of the American Bible Society. [7] It is unlikely that Eva and Ella Siegfried, the daughters of a Baptist minister, would have attended a Methodist Sunday School. And given that the photograph only includes girls, it was probably taken at the Wilmington Seminary.

1. The photograph is in Folder 6, Box 39, 2001 W.A. Dwiggins Collection, Boston Public Library. The folder is labeled “Photos of Eva Siegfried Dwiggins.”
2. Eva Siegfried Dwiggins lived with W.A. Dwiggins and his wife Mabel in Hingham, Massachusetts from 1913 until her death in 1932.
3. The information on their residences is derived from the 1870 United States Census.
4. Sabina is 11 miles east of Wilmington.
5. A clue to Olive Linton’s name was derived from a note in The Wilmington Journal (12 November 1902) that Eva [Siegfried] Dwiggins and Ella [Siegfried] Hadley were visiting Mrs. Olive Welch in Wilmington. A search of Ohio marriage records revealed Olive Welch’s maiden name.
6. Information on schools in Wilmington is from Wilmington by Laura Lanese and Eileen Brady (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2010), Chapter Six; and The History of Clinton County, Ohio… (Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1882), p. 500–501.
7. See The History of Clinton County, Ohio… (Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1882), p. 717; the Jubilee Year Fiftieth Annual Report of the American Bible Society… (New York: American Bible Society, 1866), p. 37; and the Forty-Fourth Annual Report of the American Baptist Publication Society… (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1868), p. 50.