Ethel Wight Collection – Part 33

Collver, Comas, Conley(2), & Costello

Photo Friday
Ethel Wight Collection
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.This week for Photo Friday, I identify the people in five more envelopes from the Ethel Wight Studio Collection[i]. The envelopes contain the names who paid for the photos, not necessarily of the individual portrayed in the image. As such, it is vital to analyze the pictures and information to identify the individual therein.[ii] Ultimately, my goal is to reunite the photos with family members who may have never seen the image.

Harriett Collver, circa 1937 (age 66)

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Harrie Collver – Trelawny Bldg #849.”  (Note: The Trelawney Building is 655 Congress Street, Portland.)

Harriett Collver, circa 1937

Why I believe this to be the individual.

  • The 1935 Portland City Directory lists Harriett R Collver as an Artist employed at 225½ Middle, whose home was at 655 Congress, Room 328.
  • The 1940 Census indicates that Harriet was born in 1905 in Ohio and lived in the same house during 1935.
  • However, the 1930 Census indicates that Harriett was born about 1891 in Ohio and lived at 655 Congress Street. Her father was born in New Jersey, and her mother was born in Ohio.

Ancestry Family Trees suggests that Harriett Russell Collver, the daughter of David Jayne and Isabelle (Russell) Collver, was born on 2 December 1871.

Family Search identifies ML8W-MM7, daughter of David Jay and Isabel (Russell) Collver, born 2 December 1871 in Green Creek, Sandusky County, Ohio.

Although the age of Harriett appears to have shifted significantly (born in 1905 in 1940 and born thirty-six years earlier, I am confident this is the same person. These photos were taken about 1936. This photo appears to be a woman in her sixties, much older than a woman about 30.

I have uploaded two photos of Harriett to her Family Search Memories profile. I also have uploaded one additional photo of her to my Flickr photostream.

Catherine Conley, c. 1937 (age 19)

This negative envelope says, “Miss Katherine Conley, 35 Stone St, Portland #790.”

Catherine Conley, c. 1937

Why I believe this to be the individual.

  • The 1938 Portland City Directory reports Catherine Conley residing at 35 Stone. Additionally, the Directory reports Michael J Conley, a longshoreman, living with his wife Kathleen at 35 Stone.
  • The 1940 Census reports Michael Conley, his wife Catherine, and daughter Catherine A. Conley living at 35 Stone. Catherine, the daughter, was born in Maine; Catherine, the wife, was born in Canada. Michael and his wife Catherine are 45 years old. Catherine, the daughter, is 22 and is the oldest of six children living at home. Notably, there are 11 Michael Conley’s living in Portland during the 1940 Census.
  • The 1930 Census reports six Catherine Conley’s. Four of them were born in Maine.
  • Catherine Agnes Conley was born in Portland on 21 November 1917 to Michael Joseph and Catherine (McMahon) Conley.

Alternative individuals

According to the 1940 Census, there were six other Catherine Conley’s living in Portland.

  1. Catherine Conley, Age 17 (b. 1923), daughter of Mary Conley.
  2. Catherine M. Conley, Age 44, (b. 1896), daughter of Michael E. Conley.
  3. Catherine M. Conley, Age 58, wife of Edward Conley.
  4. Catherine E. Conley, Age 30, niece of Mary E. Conley.
  5. Katherine Conley, Age 7, daughter of Michael S. and Annie F. Conley.
  6. Katherine A. Conley, Age 41, wife of Thomas A. Conley.

None of these appear to be the Miss Katherine Conley in this photo.

Family Search identifies L16K-LKK as Catherine Agnes Conley, the daughter of Michael Joseph and Catharine (Mahon) Conley. Because of the linkage to the address, I am sure this photo is of Catherine about 1936 when she was about 19 years old. Catherine is identified in seven Ancestry Family Trees.

I have uploaded two photos of Catherine to her Family Search Memories. I have also uploaded one additional photo of her to my Flickr photostream.

George P. Comas, c. 1936 (Age 25)

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mr Geo. Comas, 1 Shepley St, Portland #607.”

George P. Comas, c. 1936

Why I believe this to be the individual.

  • The 1935 Portland City Directory lists George P Comas as a clerk at 570- Congress, residing at 1 Shepley.
  • The 1936 Portland City Directory indicates that he had moved to 204 B.
  • In 1937, the Directory indicates he had married Lucille) and was living at 2 Gray, Apt 6.
  • In 1940, 29-year-old George and his wife Lucille were living at 449 Main in South Portland. George had been born in Maine.
  • In the 1930 Census, the 19-year-old George Comas lives with his parents, Peter and Mary Comas, in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts.

Family Search identifies GQRX-NZP as the son of Peter George and Mary (Stylianakos) Comas. He was born on 27 March 1911. Because George moved from Shepley about 1936, I am quite sure this was George when he was about 25. Fourteen trees at Ancestry.Com refer to George P Comas.

I have uploaded two photos of George to his Family Search profile.

Therese Leonne Conley, circa 1936 (age 7)

This negative envelope says, “Mrs Catherine Conley, 35 Stone St. Portland #710.”

Therese Leonne Conley, circa 1936

Why I believe this to be the individual.

  • The Michael Conley family, who lived at 35 Stone Street in Portland during the 1940 Census, included his wife and seven children. The two youngest daughters were Therese, age 12, and Ruth, age 15.
  • This photo was taken before the picture of Miss Catherine Conley reviewed above or about 1935 or 1936. Therese would have been about 5 or 6, while Ruth would have been about 10 or 11. The child in this photo is clearly younger than 10, so I am convinced it was a photo of Therese when she was about seven years old.

Family Search does not have a profile for Therese Leonne Conley, daughter of Michael Joseph and Cathleen (McMahon) Conley. However, Therese is found in five trees at Ancestry.Com.

Besides this photo of Therese, I have uploaded a second photo of her to Dead Fred.

Margaret Costello, circa 1935 (age 27)

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Margaret Costello, 13 Stetson Court, Portland #259.”

Margaret Costello, circa 1935

Why I believe this to be the individual.

  • The 1935 Portland City Directory lists Margaret C. Costello residing at 13 Stetson Ct. It also lists Hannah, widow of Patrick, whose home was at 13 Stetson Ct. Additionally, Miles E. J. Costello resided there.
  • The 1930 Census shows 21-year-old Margret Costello living with her parents, Patrick and Hannah Costello, in Portland, Cumberland County, Maine.
  • Further research indicates that Margaret Costello was born on 27 May 1907.

Margaret Costello, the daughter of Patrick and Hannah Costello, does not appear to have a Family Search profile. However, Margaret “Peg” Costello is found in nine trees at Ancestry.Com.

I have uploaded her photo to Dead Fred.


I had:

    • Three successful identifications that I could post to Family Search.
    • Two successful identifications that I had to post to Dead Fred because Family Search did not have a profile for the individual.
    • I was able to find all five individuals in Ancestry Trees. Hopefully, I will receive confirmations on some of these identifications.

Final Note

If any of these photos are of your family member, I would love to hear your reaction. Especially if this photo is of a loved one for whom you hadn’t seen this photograph before.


[i] The Wight Studio was in Portland, Maine. Many thanks to Ethel Wight’s family for access to and permission to use the collection of their great aunt.

[ii] These images were converted to positives using a lightbox, a Nikon camera and computer software.