Discovering Stored Treasures

Discovering Genealogy, One Ancestor at a Time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Stuggles to Identify Barney Bloomfield

Friday's survey of the three recently discovered photo of Barney Bloomfield was far from conclusive. Some of my most observant readers, were as uncomfortable as I was in concluding that all three photographs belong to the same person or even resemble the one known photo of Barney. Being the perfectionist that I am, it's been bugging me, and I've been re-examining these images and looking at my great-grandmother's album for possible clues. 

Let's start with our baseline photo. We'll call it photo #1 (as per the suggestion of Mariann). It's the close up of the one known photo of Barney from around 1919-1920. He is about 16 years old in the photo. As Mariann pointed out last week in her comment, Barney's face is a bit smudged. Both the nose and the eye seem to be affected. I've tried to rescan and enhance this photo to the best resolution. Unfortunately it's not much better than what I posted on Friday.

The next image, is photo #2, and a closeup of the second image I posted on Friday. I'd like to compare it to the formal image of Joe's from the same time. This second closeup, shows how much resemblance there was between the two brothers when they were young. 

Joe (left) has a very slight suggestion of his typical crease above the nose. Barney (right) , if that is the brother in the picture, has a slightly wider face. They both have a very stern look. Compare the two of them standing side by side from the family photo. The close up below, is from the same picture photo #1 is taken, but includes Joe.

Joe (left), Barney (Right) version 2 of photo #1. (Closeup of family portrait with their mother).
Both boys look remarkably different in this less formal portrait, than in the later studio photographs above, though Joe, two years the elder, seems to have changed a bit less. Still, without Marty's (Joe's son) help, I'd be hard pressed from this photo, to decide which of the formal studies correspond to Joe. What we can learn from Joe's formal portrait, is that the studio photo did distort a bit what they looked like. How many of us, barely recognize ourselves in a formal portrait?


Let's examine photo #3. In this last, more spontaneous closeup of the shot on the dock, the man is smiling. He seems a bit older, maybe in his early twenties, and the sides of his head remain shaven, like in the formal photo, but the top is allowed to curl more naturally. Despite trying to improve the resolution of this photo, the eyes and bridge of his nose remain fairly obscured. Placing the closeup of photo #2 next to photo #3 helped convince me, that this can be an older version of the same man. The width of the nose and the hairline, only a bit more receding, suggest the same man.

Photo number #4 is not much help since the quality is so poor. Here the man is smiling and the general structure of the face seems to be the same.

Now for the last clue. This next photo, photo #5, comes from a different source,  Minnie's album. It lies on the same page as several similar unlabeled photos, long suspected to be taken in Frieda Toby's back yard and most likely belonging to the Bloomfield brothers. Over the years, as I familiarized myself with the brothers, I was able to identify most of the photos in this group. I reasoned that one photo must belong to Barney, but I was never quite sure which one. After receiving Marty's package and studying the four possible photos of Barney, I believe I've identified Barney in the group from Minnie's album. this positive ID also helps confirm his identification in photos #2-4. 

Photo #5, Most likely one of the Bloomfield brothers. ?Barney, sitting on his mother's stoop. c1920
(click to enlarge)
Closeup of photo #5.
(Click to enlarge)
This closeup shows a young man who could easily be the same man in photo #3 and probably photo #4. It's easier to tell the resemblance between this photo and photos 3-4, because he is relaxed and smiling. I am able to date this photo to about 1920 because it belongs to the group of photos which looks like it was taken when Minnie and William arrived in Laconia for their honeymoon, October, 1920. According to Masse Bloomfield (Harry's son), the Bloomfields did not own a camera, since aside from the family photo, the formal portraits and the photos in Minnie's album, there are no photos of the Bloomfield brothers growing up. Minnie and William's visit, was a big occasion. Masse suggested that someone, a friend possibly, came out and took some photos for them. There is a photo of Minnie feeding her mother-in-law's chickens in the yard, which is clearly dated and labeled. Then there was this additional group of photos, which were most likely taken the same day. Masse, identified his father Harry easily when I showed him this next photograph (#7).

Minnie in the Yard. Her mother in-law's house is
clearly visible. The back porch is behind the
chicken coop fence.
Oct 30th, 1920. Photo #6
Harry in his mother's checken coop. Most likely taken on
the same day as Minnie's photo. The house is barely visible,
but there is a better view of the back porch and stairs. Notice his
hair is cut in the similar shaved sides fashion.
Photo #7 (Click to enlarge)

Photo #8: Joe (click to enlarge)
These next two photos (#8 & 9) are of Joe and Ben respectively. They are both fairly easy to identify. Ben's picture is taken at the same spot as the one I suspect to be Barney. So far, all the siblings who would have been present when Minnie and William arrived in Laconia is in the photos. Maybe Minnie and William, who were not planning to stay long, wanted a photo of each of William's brothers. Possibly, the brothers were excited with the prospect of a camera around and wanted their photo taken. Notably absent are Aaron, the eldest who lived in Windsor Vermont, and Max the next eldest who lived in Springfield. It's very likely that they did not join the family in Laconia during William's visit which would explain why there is no photo of them.

Photo #9: Ben (Click to enlarge)
Photo #10: William Bloomfield c1920 (click to enlarge).
 The last photo was impossible to identify, until I scanned it and zoomed in on my computer. It's of a heavy set man, standing next to the back porch of Freida Toby's house. I suspected this to be one of the brothers because it was taken in next to the same screened porch, but the figure was too small to identify with the naked eye. When I looked at the photo closely, I realized it was William! My great-grandfather! William was very over weight in 1920. Minnie described him as such in her memoir. There is no wedding photograph so, I was not quite sure what he looked like at his heaviest, but I've seen enough photos from before and after, to recognize his face immediately. Aside from Barney, he would have been the last Bloomfield in Laconia on October 1920. Once I identified all of the siblings, but Barney, it left little doubt in my mind that photo #5 must be Barney.

Here is one last look at the five potential photos of Barney Bloomfield, and a bit of algebra. 

Photo #1=Barney. Photo #2=probably Barney.
Photo #1

Photo #2

If Photo #5=Barney then Photo #3 & #4= most likely Barney. 
Photo #4
Photo #3
Photo #5
As always, I'd love your input!


  1. Wow, it can make a person dizzy, right? Looking at these pictures and trying to see similarities and distinctions! It's fun, though. Yes, Photo #5 definitely looks like Barney to me, and the hairline (which so many people mentioned) looks like that in Photo #1. Hello, Barney!

    For some reason, I still think photo #2 is Joe. I can't explain it -- just a hunch.

    1. It is really a difficult task! I absolutely feel dizzy sometimes. I know what you mean about photo #2. It looks so much like the photo of Joe form the same time. There is a chance that we have it backwards, but I tend to trust Joe's son. I know I would recognize my own father even as a teen ager, and tell him apart from my uncle who looked a lot like my dad back then.

  2. Smadar,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thanks so much Jana! It's an honor to be part of your Fabulous Finds! I hope your readers can help put this dilema to rest!


Thanks for sharing your comments!