In Grandma and Grandpa Montgomery’s house there were two photographs that fascinated me from an early age and sparked my interest in family history. One was the family portrait of grandma’s mother Sophie with her parents and siblings. The one posted here was the other. I was intrigued by the perfectly smooth ringlets and the giant hair bow – no one in 1986 could get away with looking like that.
Grandma told me a little more about the photo, and I memorized every detail – the photo shows Grandma’s first cousin, Rita Blanche Walker, when she was twelve years old. I later pieced together more of Rita’s history – she was the daughter of Ross and Carolyne Blanch (Wilson) Walker and was born, according to the 1920 census, between 1912 and 1913 in Minnesota. Carolyne’s brother was Carl Ozro Wilson, Grandma’s father. In that census and in 1930, Rita and her parents were living in Grass Range, Montana; by 1930 Rita’s younger sister Jessie M., born about 1920, had joined the family. By 1940 Carolyne was recently widowed and now living in Polson, Montana, with both Rita and Jessie still at home. Jessie, 19, is listed as a grocery sales clerk, and Rita, 27, as an English teacher earning $1200 yearly. She had completed three years of college.
Ross and Carolyne’s grave appears on the Find-a-Grave website, listed in Polson’s Lakeview Cemetery. Rita’s history after 1940, however, remains a mystery. As for her photo, as well as that of Grandma’s mother and family? Both are safely here with me.