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The Morrow Family of Smithton, Pennsylvania

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     This is one of those cases where photographs weave an interesting story, providing more information than that a person standing while smiling or frowning awkwardly into the camera (every picture I am in). Narration and photograph merge to provide a more complete story than usual.  

     These five photos came in a box of about fifty photographs, most of which were unidentified (pet peeve No. 5001). All were strewn haphazardly in the box. An anonymous, elderly hand carefully labeled each of these five photographs with a blue ballpoint pen, which tipped me off that they belong together. Three are identified with the shared last name, "Morrow", making identification possible. "Thank you" unknown blue ballpoint pen labeler. Thank you. 

   Upon researching "Morrow", the photographed subjects began to flesh out as information found on the Sherbondy Family Association website provided background. The photographs do not encompass all of the Morrow family members found in the following passage. Some have probably been separated over time, or perhaps some Morrow family members never had their likeness photographed. However, I want to present a more complete background of the generations than represented by the photographs alone.



 The following information is taken from the Sherbondy Family Association website:

  "12. Harriette Adaline Sherbondy....was born on 7 Oct 1847 in PA (age 12 on 1860 census)....She married Abraham 1870. ...She died in 1929. Abraham Morrow...was born on 23 Apr 1842 in Westmoreland, PA (age 18 in 1860 census, age 38 in 1880 census). ...He died in 1928 in Smithton, Westmoreland PA...." Their children were as follows:

    Ida Mae Morrow born in 1871. Married Thomas Neel. 

      Lloyd S. Morrow born in 1873 in PA. He married Sarah Lily May Lancaster. Died in 1905.

      George Washington Morrow was born on 18 March 1876 in South Huntingdon, Westmoreland, PA. He married Mary Wilson Watt (1891-1971) on 24 December 1909.  He died on 5 February 1950....

      Harry Leslie Morrow was born on 23 December 1878 in Smithton, PA. He married Nevada Catherine Shupe. He died on 6 Feb 1949.

Laura Morrow married Charles Vincent."

     This entry was a fantastic starting point and as such, "thank you" SFA. Take for instance, the earliest photo, the one of the Navy Seaman. His photograph is not one of the identified photographs. All that is written on the reverse is "Born 16 March 1876 Smithton, Pa. This picture taken about 1900." Yet, because of the SFA information, the subject of this photograph can be reasonably identified as George Washington Morrow, for their birth dates nearly match. There is a two day discrepancy, for the reverse of the photograph reads "16 March 1876" while the SFA states his birthday is "18 March 1876."

     Added evidence supports my belief that the seaman is George Washington Morrow and that is based on the location of his death. He died of heart failure at the age of 73, on 5 Feb 1950 in Dover, Delaware. He was buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Dover. Of course, the photographs were found here in Dover. I, at first, suspected that it was his or Mary's hand, that carefully labeled these photographs. It would explain why no name was on the back of his photograph, for the person labeling the images knew the identity of the subject. I was soon proven wrong in my assumption by one of the other photographs, but before we jump to that photograph, George Washington Morrow's tale is not quite complete. 

     The photograph provides its own bit of information. Notice it is a "Dingman Brothers" photograph from Seattle. If this photograph were taken about 1900, as suggested by the notation and the active dates of the Dingman Brothers (ca. 1902-1908), George Washington Morrow might have witnessed or been a part of the construction at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, which has the distinction of being the first dry-dock and repair facility in the Northwest that could handle large ships.  laura morrow vincent and harry leslie morroww

     The Morrow family's photographic journey does not end with George Washington Morrow. Note the cabinet card with the three persons on it, easily distinguishable by the stance of the two younger persons, who look like they could take on just about anything. (I just love this image!). As a friend mentioned, Laura Morrow looks like she has a smile on her face--almost unheard of in historical photos. The label on the reverse explains that this is an image of "Laura Morrow Vincent, Harry Leslie Morrow 'uncle,' other one unknown, date unknown." The subjects in this photograph are, of course, George Washington Morrow's younger siblings. This is the photo that disproved my theory of the identity of the labeling hand. The person labeling the photos cannot be George Washington Morrow or his wife, Mary, as they would not refer to Harry Morrow as "uncle." Perhaps it was one of their children? In any event, this cabinet card is without a photographer's imprint and as such gives no information as to the location of its subjects.
Unfortunately, Laura Morrow Vincent's life was entirely too short. If the record on Find-a-grave is accurate, she died in 1914 (born in 1881). at about 33 years of age. She was the wife of Charles Vincent who might have either been a fireman or farmer (both?) according to various genealogy sites.  

     The next three photographs are not cabinet cards, but closer to the snapshots of today. As such, no photographer's information or advertising is included. 

     The oldest Morrow sibling, Ida Mae Morrow, is in a photograph with three other people. The reverse is simply labeled, "Thomas & Ida Morrow Neel, LaVerna Magonigal, Johstown [sic] Pa. about 1915." It is difficult to assess with any certainty, which of the two women is Ida Mae. Of course, the person doing the labeling, probably knew. The child is also not identified. Little information can be readily found about the Neel family, beyond what is given on the Sherbondy Family Association website. I could not find anything about a LaVerna Magonigal (using all logical and some illogical spellings). 

     From this generation of the Morrow family, the other Morrow sibling, "Lloyd S." is apparently not included in the box of photographs. Like sister Morrow NeelwLaura, he also died at a young age, for he was about 32 when he died. 

     Another generation of Morrows is represented by the photographs. As noted, Harry Leslie Morrow (shown above with his sister, Laura) married Nevada Catherine Shupe. They had the following children according to information cobbled together from Mooseroots, Mocavo and FamilyTreeNow:

       Earnest D. born 15 May 1904.

       Harry C. Morrow born about 1907

       Abram J. born 1908

       Leora D. born 1910

       Clarence S. born 1912

       Marie V. born 1916

       Audley W. born 1919

        Harriett born 1922

        Thomas born 1925

      Scant information about the children is readily available, except that claims the earnest and harry morrowwfirst four children could read and write. I found no citations confirming where that information came from, but I see no reason to doubt it, either. The dark photograph showing the two young boys, is identified as, "Earnest Morrow, Harry C. Morrow, Smithon Pa about 1914." Otherwise, it does not reveal more information. 

     At first I did not think the last photograph belonged with the others because it is labeled "Cleveland, Ohio." Of course, it was the penmanship and the blue pen that tipped me off. In the familiar hand and ink, the photo is labeled "about 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio." The earlier pencil notation only reads, "Leora & Clarence better known as "Tots" Wishing you all a Merry Christmas." Without the blue ballpoint pen, this artifact would have ended up in the "unidentified" section here on Passed Time. 

     morrow totsw I tried searching records, in this case even medical records, but could find nothing on this later generation of Morrows. I looked both in Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

     Once Harry and Nevada moved their part of the family to Ohio, they apparently remained there for Harry died on February 6, 1949 in Cleveland at the age of 70. He was buried in Acacia Memorial Park. Nevada also was buried in Acacia Memorial Park after her death on January 30, 1966. 

     Undoubtedly, someone out there is familiar with these later family members and maybe they will share their stories on Passed Time. Pat Earnest, Dover, DE 15 September 2015


Update: 17 September 2015: I have been thinking about this, but there might be some connection between the Morrow family and the box of unidentified photographs. I am going to post the other photos on PT as time allows, on the off chance someone out there can identify some of the images. I will try to link those to the Morrow article. Best, Pat .

*For interested persons, one of the best books about photographs is Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs by Karen Frisch-Ripley. And please remember, if you intend to purchase through Amazon, Passed Time is partnered with them. If you shop on Amazon, please do so through the Amazon widget found in the right column on our front page, Although PT has no intention of charging our readers, we do incur costs. 

Pat Earnest, currently lives in Dover, Delaware, with family, both two- and four-footed. I am a published author and history enthusiast, who has great regard for the past and is especially proud of the Pennsylvania German culture. In addition to Passed Time, I am currently working on a project for the German Historical Institutes Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies ( I also contribute to various newsletters and I am working on another book...or two. Feel free to email me at with  questions, comments, information, a shared love of history, an idea, because you want to chat or you have an great idea for PT. Please be aware, Files With Attachments will not be opened, but immediately deleted.



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