Real Cowboys or Make Believe?

By Maureen A. Taylor

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Last week we began our investigation by reviewing the handwriting on this photo postcard. To further our investigation, let’s have a look at how these cowboys were related.

In this image the caption on the back led the owner to believe that both of these men were Charlie Strickland and were brothers. It’s unusual to have two men of the same name in a sibling group but not unlikely in a collection of cousins.

photo identification hand writing detective maureen taylor census

Here’s the picture of these two men dressed as cowboys. There are even more questions.

Is their attire authentic or studio props? They wear stereotypical gear—A Stetson, a neck scarf and of course a six-shooter, but something makes me wonder if they didn’t dress up at a studio.

Who’s who is the other problem.

Take a look at another photo in Cam Thompson’s family. This is Colure and Maxie McDonald, Annie Strickland McDaniel’s sons. Could the man on the left be the cowboy on the right?

photo identification hand writing detective maureen taylor census

photo identification hand writing detective maureen taylor census

Time for a facial comparison

Let’s do a facial comparison using

Take a good look. Similar faces but different eyebrows, nose and lips mean it’s not a match. They could be family though.

Back to square one

There is usually a bit of truth in captions. So a Strickland or a Strickland cousin could be the cowboys but in order to figure out who’s who we need to look at all the  Strickland and McDaniel men who would be the right age to be in a photo taken between 1908 and 1918.

George McDaniel (born 1859) father of Colure and Maxie would be too old to be in this picture.

Reviewing census records

Annie Strickland didn’t have any brother’s named Charles as of the 1880 Census.

A quick search of Charles Stricklands/McDaniels. There are men named Charles Strickland in the 1910 census for Mississippi, but it’s going to take time to sort out which one might be in this photo.

For now I think it could be a family member and a friend who both happened to be known as Charlie.

For more fascinating photo identification cases, check out our Photo Detective page!