Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lost Family Memento or Clue to a Crime?

Several years ago, while operating/setting up a what I will call a salvage, surplus & thrift warehouse store,  I & some of my loyal volunteers cleared out a bunch of stuff from "Sooter Studios" in Winnipeg. The company had basically gone broke, or otherwise dissolved, and in a dramatic way. 

Would have made for perfect Reality TV drama, for certain, as it involved a dramatically changed, then nose diving & ultimately failing business model,  jilted spouse, flight overseas by the other spouse, legal wrangling, etc, etc,etc.

Anyway,  we got a ton of stuff. Some was good, some was bad, and some just sweat inducing from hauling, loading, and carrying it around.

However, seeing as my eye is always open for vintage items, even in cases where most items were too modern to be considered "collectible" and the few "vintage" items being of negligible value,  I still managed to rescue a few items from the dumpsters, seeing as I am, was and still am an  antiques picker/dealer. 

Fast forward to the present day.  I was going through stuff that I had saved; several things in a box, jumbled together, tossed there for "later research", and lots of "I'll deal with that later" sorts of items and I re-discovered a photograph. Well, actually, it is an old photograph and an modern enlargement of the photograph. 

No surprise, being that the place did such work as part of its main income....prior to it being turned into a "dollar store" chain business model.

The photo shows a couple, and likely dates from the late teens into the early/mid 1920s; possibly late 1920s, judging by the Art Deco influence of the design on the cardboard frame, as well as the couple's clothing. As for their age, I am assuming they are in their 20s to early 30s, and that this was their wedding photo. 

Normally, someone else's screw-up in a long gone business is not something I would seek to correct. It is not my problem that the business messed up somebody's order for 100 widgets. 

However, in this case, writing on the large envelope that contained the contents shown indicates that this is some family's photo that has been mislaid, waylaid, and was obviously just filed under one of the categories of "Oh well" and "Stuff Happens" or "Meh."  

No matter where or with whom the blame lays, I believe that this photo does have a home somewhere out there. So, even though I have, in the past,made attempts to locate the family/families of the individuals in the photo, and that I do have the research skills and "way outside the box" thinking to do so, this one just has too few clues to guide me.

The photo was taken in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. However, being that "Sooter Photo Studios" accepted jobs from all over Canada; and likely the US as well,  it could have been mailed from anywhere, by anyone. The photo's frame seems to indicate it was taken by THAMS Studios of Saskatoon, assuming the photo is original to the frame.

Also, on the photo is information/writing that indicates... 

Literally minutes ago, as I was typing the the lines above, I had a "DOH!"-head-slapping-sort-of-moment....

First, before I tell you why I had the "DOH" moment, I should explain something.

I am enamoured with history, and I do find many details of history exciting, despite the treatment the subject receives by all too many school teachers, who manage to make the most exciting past events into the driest and most boring lists of facts and figures you have ever come across. 

It is no wonder with  each passing generation we loose so much documentation of our past. We've been taught that history is boring and all that matters in the future. SO much from learning from history. 

Yes, I know, you can see a tangent coming here....well, I will stop and leave that rant for another day, and get back on track.

Anyway, I have taken interest in "cold cases".

By that I mean unsolved old murder cases, and other unsolved criminal-related mysteries.  

It comes as part and parcel with my quest for knowledge, and the truth behind the stories and fiction grown up around publicized cases, such as that of "Albert Johnson", of "The Mad Trapper of Rat River" fame, a riveting case that had people all over Canada and the USA glued to their radios for days.

So, back to the photo and my DOH! moment.

One case I stumbled across was a woman's remains found at the bottom of an old well on June 29th, 2006.

As it turned out, the deceased passed some time ago. 

Evidence suggested that she was murdered and her body disposed of in the well sometime between 1900 and the late 1920s!

When looking at this Bride, the one in the photograph, as I was typing above, I remembered that case...and the police reconstruction and this gal's image seem (to me) to have a striking resemblance....

It could be simply the style of the period hair, and that is what has my eye seeing the entire face as similar, but who knows. I will have to look at it closely some more later.

However, in thinking about some of my other research on an entirely different case, and one far more publicized, it got me wondering if this, the photo, the "famous" case, and my research on that famous case may all have just come together...a weird case of serendipity, of sorts.

 Perhaps unknown forces have been directing me to put the pieces together!

Seeing as research is based in facts, I won't go beyond that little bit of philosophical, slash hippy-dippy-trippy line of thought.

So, the whole mystery about who "Albert Johnson" really was (they felt "Albert Johnson" may well have been only an alias) was "recently" covered in a documentary titled "The Hunt For The Mad Trapper" by Myth Merchant Films.

Long story short, for those of you who are totally in the dark or not quite up to date on the facts about "The Mad Trapper", this is a highly condensed version of how it has gone:

For years there has been a growing list of individuals that have been thought to have possibly been "The Mad Trapper", AKA Albert Johnson.

Several books have been published by various authors (most notably Dick North) and their theories on one or more of these "possible" identities,  the related research connecting the dots, and the general mysterious, near-superhuman individual that was dubbed The Mad Trapper of Rat River.

There are some candidates that seemed very feasible & solid possibilities, while others were a little more "out there" in their potential to be our mystery man.

However, every last "potential" identity that had any credibility had been eliminated, via DNA testing done in conjunction with the documentary I mentioned. 

So, his identity remains even more of a mystery.

I like mysteries, and as a result, I became more intrigued with the man I tend to refer to as "AJ."

 However, I have been concentrating on a different line of thought, trying to figure out where he came from, the path he travelled, and I have been thinking that method may well lead me to his true identity.

Well, I have been doing lots of research, taking a way-way-outside-the-box approach as I like (tend) to do.

As a result, I may have found a "trail" of sorts...quite possibly "Albert's" trail.

With old and some previously unknown information I stumbled upon, I have been piecing together evidence to back a theory, essentially a map of movements & activities of "The Mad Trapper". 

What theory? 

Well, you will have to wait some time for that...or not. It all depends on what the future holds.

Anyway, before I get off on a long tangent, I will stop myself. (You can thank me later!)

Now, back to the main subject of this post, the photo.

I'd like to think that I can find the family to which this photo formerly belonged to.  So, if you can assist me to get further than I already have, I'd appreciate it, and would certainly give you public credit for your part in possibly reuniting the photo with the family. 

Now, I will only give you public credit if you require or desire public credit. Also, in the same vein, I can maintain your privacy as much as is realistically feasible. 

You see, now that I am nearing the end of this post, my babbling in the many lines above may link together, partially or entirely.

The historical info, interesting stories, and what, for some readers are 3 seemingly unrelated topics, bring to my mind two yet to be answered questions.

Could this be "THE MAD TRAPPER'S" wedding photo?????? 

And is the pictured bride the Jane Doe whose remains were accidentally discovered at the bottom of a long abandoned well in Saskatoon in 2006?????

I gotta go, seeing as I have much more research to do...!

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