** Read all the way to the bottom to see how I found new details and changed my theory**

This photo is in the album listed as Dad's sisters, Minnie, Annie, and Emma. Going back to this album centering around Lillie but appearing to have been worked on a child of her's, we put George Burton Darnold in the role of "Dad". This idea fits since he had three sisters, Minnie, Annie, and Emma.

As I looked at other known photos of the girls, I began to suspect that the correct order for the trio was Emma, Annie, and Minnie.

From this point things get even more complicated.

I am going to assume that we have correct birth and death dates for Anna and Minnie. Anna was born in 1877 and died in 1918. Minnie was born in 1880 and died in 1895.

Emma is the real mystery woman here. The 1870 census places her birth in 1859, the 1880 census says 1861, and the 18890 census puts it in 1860. The census actually lists an age rather than a birth year so depending on what month she was born in and what month the census taker visited, you can be off by a year and still have a match. Lets just say that the combined census data is claiming that she was born in 1860.

If Emma was born in 1860 she would be 17 years older than her sister Anna. Have another look at the photo. Do any of these girls look to be 17 years apart in age?

Adding to the confusion is the fact that we know Emma was married to Andrew P Erickson on April 22, 1894. If she was born in 1860, she would have waited until she was 34 years old to marry. That seems very odd for the time frame. By comparison, Anna married when she was 17 years old.

Another question - Is this Emma's wedding photo or was it taken at a different time? The only thing I see that could be a wedding indication is the flowers on Andrew's lapel.

Were there two Emma J Darnolds? Perhaps an older aunt who lived with the family and was 17 years older than Anna? In the group photo I think the girl on the left looks to be a year younger than the girl in the middle. Could our Emma have been born in 1878 and we just haven't picked her up in the data because we are stumbling over an older aunt and confusing them? Or could some other solution be found?

This one isn't going to be easy to sort out.


I found Emma's obituary and it confirms that she was older than I thought she looked. Emma was born on November 30, 1859. That jives roughly with the census information so it's a pretty good match.The obituary also confirms that she was 34 years old when she married Andrew Erickson.

Now that Emma's birthday wasn't the mystery, my focus shifted to figuring out who the girls in the photo were.

The first thing I considered is that one reason I was so sure the center girl was Anna, was because she had dark hair. I began to think this might be a mistake. When I was a child I had blonde hair. When I was in my early teens it was a dirty blonde or light brown. It kept getting darker and by my mid 40s had turned into dark brown. If Anna was one of the younger girls in the photo she might have still had lighter hair.

At this point my son, who is 27 years old, looked at the photo and told me that he thought the girl in the center was much older than I did. He said "she is at least as old as me, if not older." Taking a good look at him I began to realize he is right. I've reached a point in life where I think just about everyone younger than me, looks very young. I go out to eat and I can't believe the kids serving me are old enough to be serving beer. I think they look like they should be in high school yet. Obviously I've gone from being bad at guessing ages to a new, more embarrassing level of failure.

There was also a slight problem with the noses in my last theory. This new theory corrects that.

So let's look at all the photos again. Remember the one where Mr. Erickson had a flower on his lapel? Let's assume that was their wedding photo and Emma was 34 years old at the time. Let's also assume that the girls in the photo are about 30, 13, and 10.

Now that I am confident in Emma's birth date, I am going to go and relabel them on the gallery page.

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