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Martin Baker Gay Family

How I knew who was who

Mary Glynn



How did I know who was who in the first all family group photo above, of Martin Baker Gay and family? Image was in the book Lois Barton published "One Womans West" the image had basic information below it.

I made it my mission to put a face with a name. I am a photographer in my personal life so know  a bit on family placements, but modern placements vary today.

It started out matching poorly fax type copies done by zerox type machines, my mom and I received from Ethel Briggs. Some images from the book itself, some from going to a museum in Lane County,Oregon, libraries, online research and more.

Also from copies people from various families who owned originals or had copies of images, letting me grab my camera to  take pictures of their pictures. Digitalizing them, I was able to see up close and match features with other images.

Then I decided to dig deeper on historic images and common factors they did during sessions with large families in those days.

(the family image above is in the book, I went off for these steps below.)

1. You place Father and Mother (by his heart) in the middle. The first born son was placed by the father (with wife on his left side by his heart). The first born daughter by the mother, husband of first born daughter in image before his wife. 

[Wife to the husbands left side; meaning to this biblically, because father teaches son how to be man, husband and father and mother teaches her daughter how to be a wife, mother, and woman.  Since daughter is married she naturally would be seperated from parents and husband would be placed before her. Also the wife is closest to his heart and the reason he fights, lives and she is the mother of his seed (family) she is cherished.]

Second row, the children by age, starting out from left to right.. So I figured out about the time frame of when this image was taken, by going off of what Martha said in her diary entry (you can find it in the book One womans west) where she mentions a family session done not long before her father died. I then looked into the dates of who had spouses around that time. Then figuring out whose spouse was who became easier. The wife was placed on the side of the mans heart as mention above, like in burial which was common in family pictures in that time.

2. To confirm this, pictures of Charles Franklin Gay and his wife I found on ancestry from his direct line, I was able to know, who was who of spouses, and how the photographer placed them. These were traditions professional photographers commonly used in those times.


So later I came across the next large family picture 👆 where it was just Martin, wife and their adult kids (no spouses in image) The placement was much the same except it was Martin and Ann in the middle, oldest son by father, then the next oldest after, the 3, 4 oldest by mother. All others in back by age starting oldest to youngest (left to right) 

Both large family images together confirmed all.

I hope rhis helps explain my process.




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