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Old Family Photo Mystery: Is This the Father or the Son?

By Maureen A. Taylor

Does this old family photo of Carol Bemke’s relative show a father, or his son? Seems simple, right? But not if both men have the same name.

Old photo mysteries: Is this a father or his son?

You know how it goes. Some relative is sure that an old family photo shows a certain person, but your intuition says maybe not. A relative identified this man as Louis Vollmer, but which one—Sr. or Jr.?

In cases like this, it’s important to tread carefully and look at every detail.

Senior or Junior? Stacking Up the Clues

Louis Vollmer Sr. (1859-1944) married in 1885. He was born in Germany.

Louis Vollmer Jr. (1895-1975) married in 1934. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Yes, he died only in 1975. That’s how quickly an identification can be lost or mixed up.

It’s quite possible the two men closely resembled each other. That could be where the confusion set in.

I’d guess the man in this picture to be in his 20s. If that age is approximately correct, a picture of Louis Sr. would’ve been taken in 1884; and Louis Jr., in 1920

A Photo Date and an ID

I think this image was taken to coincide with Louis Sr.’s wedding in 1885.

The clothing fits the period: turned-up collar, silk necktie and narrow lapels.

In the 1920s, men wore completely different suits with celluloid-collared shirts. Take a look at 1920s fashion here.

Now this old family photo is a treasure. It documents a man around the time of his marriage. I’m wondering if the family owns a companion photo of his bride.

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor: