Sunday, January 24, 2016

Photo of the Week: Waynesburg College Music Conservatory Graduates 1916

(By Candice Buchanan, Greene Connections Archivist)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: One of the most exciting benefits to a community project such as Greene Connections, is how the research becomes collaborative. Photograph collections from three families and one repository together, contributed to the identification of these five beautiful Waynesburg College Music Conservatory Graduates, Class of 1916.

Sara Virginia (Elms) Simpson
We began in the Waynesburg University Paul R. Stewart Museum, given archival access by curator James "Fuzzy" Randolph, as we scanned the entire collection of alumni images 1852-1938, which you can view by visiting the Waynesburg University Museum Collection (to use index or search engine visit Photo Archives). Among the priceless images were five damaged, but still salvageable, gorgeous portraits of ladies identified only as 1916 Music Conservatory graduates. Alumni records provided a list of names and we were able to immediately identify one of the five because her family had already shared a photo collection with Greene Connections. That first young lady to step forward was Sarah Virginia (Elms) Simpson - wife of Frederic Wheeler Simpson, daughter of George Harvey Elms and Evaline Florence Morris. View the Sarah Virginia (Elms) Simpson Collection, shared by her daughter Eva Mae (Simpson) Grim and granddaughter Cicely Stewart-Kunsman, to see more photos. She was a part of the well known Elms Brothers Machine Shop family of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, and on her mother's side, her grandfather Robert Morris was a carpenter responsible for woodwork that can still be admired in Miller Hall on the Waynesburg University campus today.

Phyllis Affery (Beatley) Trescher
We posted the remaining four ladies with the alumni list of candidate identifications to Greene Connections for public view. This phase requires patience, but in good time we were so happy to be contacted by John D. Boykin and his mother, Marybeth (Trescher) Boykin, who were able to identify their grandmother and mother, respectively, Phyllis Affery (Beatley) Trescher as one of the young women pictured.

Helen Delilah (Patton) Leckey
The final identifications came in a grand swoop with the wonderful contact of Candace (Leckey) McPheron who not only recognized her grandmother Helen Delilah (Patton) Leckey, but also had a clipping from a 1916 issue of the Waynesburg College publication, The Collegian, which included a group photo captioning all five graduates!

Helen Delilah Patton was a daughter of Joseph Patton and Ella Rebecca Webb, two long-established Greene County families. Candace's grandfather Howard Louis Leckey Sr. was also a Waynesburg College graduate (Class of 1918) and wrote a the well-known Greene County, Pennsylvania history book, The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families: A Genealogical History of the Upper Monongahela ValleyCandace went on to share her family photo collection which you can view in full by visiting the Candace (Leckey) McPheron Collection and scrolling through.

Frances Jane (Fry) Caldwell
The article shared by Candace allowed for the final two faces to be accurately named. Frances Jane (Fry) Caldwell was a daughter of William Fry and Elizabeth Klineberger. And, Goldie Ruth (Loughman) Summersgill was the wife of Ralph Summersgill, and a daughter of George Loughman and Eliza Pettit. With these image identifications intact, the Waynesburg College Music Conservatory Class of 1916 now has a complete photographic alumni roster.
Goldie Ruth (Loughman) Summersgill

Watching as each graduate lit up with an identification that reunited her not only with her classmates, but also with her family, was especially fun and rewarding. Please keep this example in mind as you puzzle over unidentified photos. We can work together to solve these mysteries! You must give a little to get a little - share your photos! The context of these 1916 graduates was a vital clue. Watch for context clues in your photo collections. Finally, be patient, persistent and have fun! is a free local history archival project. Sponsored by LOLA Energy.

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