Origins of the HANNAH   P.   LANDIS album
Assembled electronically by Tom L. McFarland in August 2001

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This album was retrieved by Tom L. McFarland in June 2001 from 87 West State Avenue in Phoenix, when the owner (Dorathy Adele McFarland) had a stroke and could no longer maintain the house. Dorathy McFarland did not recall how the album got into her home, but it had been there since she and her late husband Tom had retired there about 1972. Dorathy's son Tom L. McFarland intentionally searched the chaotic home for pictures and family records, finding this album on the top shelf of a dusty bookcase, side-by-side with many old books signed by Dorathy's grandfather John William Landis. The album, bearing the initials "HPL" in large German font on the outside cover, was immediately recognized as similar to the Cox family album, which had been inherited from Adele Mary Landis in 1980 : both albums shared several identical pictures, most dated (by clothing) from the 1880's by Leslie Bellais of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison. In both albums, most pictures were unlabeled, alas, but the creators of both albums had taken care to organize contents by theme. Hence, the order of photos has been preserved in both.

I will propose that this album was assembled prior to 1900 by Hannah Potter (Robinson) Landis, who died at age 81 on 4 January 1901. The album was meant as a gift to their 2nd son Roland, since the first picture is of Roland's only child, Nell. Hannah was living with Roland for the 1900 census. However, since Nell never married, I propose that Nell passed it to her cousin William. William's widow Adele briefly visited the Phoenix home of her daughter Dorathy, and could have left it behind. However, Dorathy's son Brian McFarland claims that all the old books in Dorathy's home had been there since she moved to Phoenix and were likely brought from Stickney Avenue in Wauwatosa. Furthermore, Dorathy's sister Jeanne insists that Adele never mentioned these books, though Jeanne and Adele lived together for 28 years. Given the vigor with which Dorathy fought to obtain an old music box owned by William and Adele, which ultimately went to Jeanne, I will propose that upon the death of William in Milwaukee in 1952, Dorathy transferred these old books and perhaps other items from her parent's apartment to Dorathy's Wauwatosa home without examining any of it. This writer, Tom L. McFarland (Dorathy's son), neither heard nor saw anything of such old objects while living in this home between 1952 and 1956.

Hannah's album contains 55 photos dating from about 1850 to 1895, and two additional photos of Pullman's Castle are loose. Four photos (1, 8, 17 and 21) have names written on the back, 2 more (14 and 33LR) have dates, and one (34 upper right) has the word "father" written on it. No photos are tin types. As of May 2011, only 29 photos are associated with names, and of these 29, 5 or 6 are uncertain. The original order of the photos is indicated by page number just above each photo: for pairs of facing pages, the lower number is always even. Many of the prints in this album seem to have been made at approximately the same time (1880's), as Hannah was assembling this gift for Roland. About half of the photos are of uncertain identity at best, and likely represent the families of Hannah's brothers (Rowland and Samuel), the family of her mother, Mary Seager Potter, or families of the siblings of her late husband (Edmund Landis Sr.). Hannah's son John visited the east on his honeymoon, and near the birth of his 2nd child (William), John visited Baltimore, Boston, and Providence, keeping a short diary mentioning 2 cousins

Sally Bailey of Springfield, Illinois (one of William's granddaughters) had acquired a few similar photos, 1 or 2 possibly extracted from the Cox album ; William Walter Landis had handwritten personal information on Sally's pictures in 1951, which has helped identify other photos in both albums. In February 2000, Jeanne (Sally's mother) came with all three of her daughters to Tom McFarland in Madison, to compare notes. Sally's photo's and Jeanne's comments are included as a separate photo section called Sally's old album. Carroll (Illian) Flood owns a very old scrap book maintained by the Landis families between 1880 and 1925, containing useful marriage and death notices. Carroll also owns a book of poems organized for Hannah by her brother Edward W. Robinson in the early 1840s, with contributions by some of Hannah's relatives and friends; this book has helped to link Hannah with the Robinson family prominent in Rhode Island history. In 2003, a third old album was discovered, the Potter Album, which shares a few images with Hannah's album and identifies the subjects by name. A fourth similar album was created by Maria (Vermilye) Weir and was held as recently as the 1980s by Thomas Charles Weir, but his widow claims no knowledge of it in 2006.

Knowledge of the Cox family structure, through obituaries found by Sandwich historians Ken Bastian and Barbara Hoffman , have been very helpful in attaching names to these pictures. Marriage records are now also available on-line though the Illinois marriage records.

I also consulted Leslie Bellais of the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, who offered her opinion of clothing styles in most pictures. Miss Bellais feels that most clothing dates the images in the interval 1878-1890, but there are some exceptions, noted on each photo.

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