Tiny Tintypes

Emelia (Moore) Jordan (center) with daughters (L-R) Lottie Anderson, Laura Goff, Cora Parrish, Floy Cowden

Mom asked me whether I’d noticed how much older Laura Goff was than her sisters. Well no, they all looked “old” to me.

David Jordan family, late 1889 or early 1890, Guthrie County, Iowa. From left: Floyd Roy Jordan, Emeila Ann (Moore) Jordan, Frederick David Jordan, Floy Temperance Jordan, Lottie Belle Jordan, Collis Moore Jordan, Laura Arminta Jordan, Cora Nell Jordan, David Jordan.

It’s actually more obvious in this family photo, with Floy, Lottie, and Laura in the center back, with youngest sister Cora leaning against their father. Laura married in early 1890 and became a mother late that year.

Laura was born in 1868, then three children who didn’t live very long: Phoebe Caroline “Cally” (1870), Riley Ephraim (1872), and Rose Emma Jane (1874). Those three died in late 1873 to spring of 1875, and are buried in the old cemetery at Monteith, in Guthrie County, Iowa.

Recently I found a small envelope of tintypes. I’m so thankful I had kept them. I’m sure that two of them are of my great grandmother, Laura (Jordan) Goff as a girl and one is the wedding picture of her parents (another one like it was labeled).

But there are three tintypes of babies, two of them labeled. I’m sure that the unmarked one is of one of the three Jordan children who were lost long ago.

(BTB) Phoebe Caroline “Cally” Jordan (Jan. 8, 1870-May 27, 1875), buried at Monteith, Iowa
Riley Ephraim Jordan (Feb. 14, 1872-Dec. 27, 1873), buried Monteith
Rose Emma Jane Jordan (Apr. 26, 1874-Apr. 11, 1875), buried Monteith

I’ve seen the gravestones for these little ones when searching for ancestors in the cemetery at Monteith.

When I was a girl, Great Grandmother Laura Goff lived with her daughter, Grandma Leora (Goff) Wilson at Guthrie Center. Neither drove, so I remember Mom taking them to Casey, a town in southern Guthrie County, to see their sister and aunt, Cora (Jordan) Cowden. My sis Gloria and I were along that day, but it was pretty boring to us to listen to old ladies talking. Oh, I wish I’d paid attention, maybe even asked questions!

The youngest Jordan, Frederick David, was born a year before his oldest sister, Laura Goff, became a mother, when Leora Goff was born. When Fred Jordan grew up, he married Rectha Wilson in 1909. When Leora grew up, she met Clabe Wilson at Fred and Rectha’s house in Monteith. Leora and Clabe were married in 1914.

For those of you who’ve read Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression, the youngest Jordan sister was the Cora Parrish who hired Doris Wilson in their Guthrie Center restaurant. Yes, that one who wondered how Leora had raised a daughter who didn’t know how to cut up a chicken!



  1. Oh, that’s so sad to see the babies who were lost. I have a family album from the same time period. Adults and most of the children are labelled, but none of the babies. Anyone who could have identified them died years ago. They’re just anonymous generic babies now.

    • I was afraid that’s what I had as well, but two lined up with the chart and I realized that the oldest would have been the other little one. Now they’re remembered on Findagrave with more than their tiny gravestones.

  2. It is so sad that the little ones perished so young! All the little branches on the family tree matter, and you have done a good job of keeping all the branches beautifully remembered and cherished. It is a precious tree built with love; each loved one fills the tree to perfection. (I am going through a great many of old family photos from my mother’s house. Some date back to Victorian times and I had never seen them in all these years. So much was boxed up and in storage.) I love the old photos with the parasols and the hats! The frames are something else altogether and some I cannot seem to remove from the frame without destroying the picture itself.

    • Cardboard framing? Grandma Leora peeled some off, but that leaves the photo itself so fragile. She also lost three infants, but they were her youngest three. Finding this little envelope of tintypes makes me wonder what other precious things I’ll still come across. So you are also the family “keeper.” It’s an honor, isn’t it, but also a burden. What next for them? I’m thankful to be able to share them here. Most of them are more plain than the orignials.

  3. It is an honor, and also a burden of what to do with each item. It is all so remarkable and precious to come upon photographs and memorabilia from previous generations. Each item tells a story that presses upon our hearts and wants to be told. Sharing these stories is a wonderful thing!

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