Basford, Batura, Bearce, Belyea, & Benn
By Don Taylor
This week for Photo Friday, I identify five more negatives from the Ethel Wight Studio Collection[i]. The names on the envelope are of the individual who paid for the photos, not necessarily of the individual portrayed in the image. As such, it is vital to analyze the photo and information to identify the photographs positively.[ii]
Flora Basford (1916-1970)
The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Flora Bassford – Me Gen Hospital, Portland, #695.”
- Flora Bassford – Age 72, Widow. Cannot possibly be this Flora, who is much younger.
- Flora E Basford, Age 24, Daughter of May M. Basford, living at 84 Carleton. Occupation-Nurse at a Hospital.
- Flora Basford, Age 23, Living at Maine General Hospital, Occupation Nurse.
So, are there two different Flora Basford’s or is there only one who was enumerated twice?
The 1940 Portland City Directory lists two Flora Basford’s; one was Flora A, the widow of clarence, the other a nurse employed at 22 Arsenal and living at 82 Carleton, Apt 17. No second, young nurse.
The 1939 Portland City Directory – Ditto.
The 1938 Portland City Directory reports Flora Basford as Student Nurse at 22 Arsenal, residing at 22 Arsenal.
Flora E Basford married Raymond C Aja on 27 April 1940.
The 1941 Portland City Directory shows Flora Basford the nurse that married Raymond C Aja. No other Flora Basford’s are identified.
In the 1930 Census, Flora E Basford, age 13, lives with her mother May, and a sister Vera L Basford, in Detroit, Somerset County, Maine. (Vera also went into nursing.)
Looking at all the documents, I believe that Flora Basford was enumerated twice during the 1940 Census – Once at her mother’s home and once at the hospital housing facility. Other than the census, I can find no other evidence there was another Flora Basford in the Portland area (The Widow Basford excepted). So, I believe this to be Flora Basford, daughter of Willie P and Maggie Mary (Fulton) Basford and wife of Raymond C Aja.
She is Family Search Profile LL2M-921. The photos I have probably came from about 1938, when Flora was about 22 years old.
Jane Mary Batura (1918-2016)
The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Jane Batura – 40 Brackett St, Portland – #1073.”
The 1938 Portland City Directory reported Jane Batura, an employee at LDCo, 148 Middle and resided at 40 Brackett. The other Batura individuals also lived at that address, suggesting no other Batura families in 1938 Portland.
Additionally, Jane Batura was born on 28 January 1918 to John and Malvina (Blaska) Batura in Portland, Cumberland, Maine.
There is not a profile for Jane Mary Batura on Family Search. There was one public family tree on Ancestry that included Jane Mary Batura. I’ve messaged that person with information about the images.
Ralph Bearce (one of three candidates)
The envelope this negative was in says, “Mr. Ralph Bearce #448 – Copy.”
It is unusual for the negative envelope to not include any address for the individual. Also, the quality of the image is quite poor and somewhat damaged. The word “Copy” following the name suggests that this negative was a copy of another photo, probably using a different camera or process.
The 1940 census records indicate there were nine Ralph Bearce’s enumerated; three of them lived in Maine.
- Ralph R. Bearce – Age 54, Living with his wife, Lou H, in Ashland, Aroostook County.
Ralph R Beane – Age 44, living with wife, H Lou, in Ashland, Aroostook County.
- Ralph Bearce, Jr – Age 17, living with father above.
Ralph Bearce, Jr – Age 17, living with father above.
- Ralph H. Bearce – Age 48, living with wife, Mattie, in Dover-Foxcroft in 1940.
Ralph K Bearce – Age 38, living with wife, Mattie, in Dover Foxcroft in 1930.
Further research was unsuccessful in finding Ralph Bearce in any of the City Directories I have access to.
The photo was taken in about 1937. Ralph Brice of Ashland would have been 51 years old then. Ralph Bearce of Dover-Foxcroft would have been about 45. I think the man in the photo looks more like 51 than 45; however, there isn’t enough age difference to be sure. As such, I don’t believe I can determine which Ralph Bearce this is a photo of.
Note: There was a third Ralph Brice, Born in Turner, Maine in 1875, lived in New Hampshire in 1930, and died in New Hampshire in 1935. This photo may be of that Ralph King Brice, but I don’t think so.
Hopefully, someone in Aroostook County or Piscataquis County who knew one of the two Ralph Bearce’s can confirm this image’s identity.
Posted to Dead Fred
Ralph Bearce – ca. 1937
There were three Ralph Bearce’s of Maine; this image could be any of them.
- Ralph R. Bearce – b. ca. 1886 – wife, Lou H, of Ashland, Aroostook County, Maine.
- Ralph H. Bearce – b. ca 1892 – wife, Mattie, of Dover-Foxcroft, Piscataquis County, Maine.
- Ralph K. Bearce – b. 1874 – wife Ellen Mary, of Turner, Androscoggin County, Maine.
Helen Vaughn Belyea (1925-1991) and Frederick N. Belyea (1931-1991)
The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Harry Belyea – 41 Wolcott St. Portland #169.”
The 1940 Census lists Harry Belyea living with his wife, Pauline, and two children, Helen (age 14) and Frederick (age 8). This photo was taken about 1935, so Frederick would be about four and Helen about 10 in the photo. I am convinced this is them.
- On Family Search, Helen Vaughn Belyea (1925-1991) is ID LYCV-8K4.
- On Family Search, Frederick N. Belyea (1931-1991) is ID GQD2-PTR.
I have uploaded two of the images to Family Search.
Greta Benn (1916-2012)
The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Greta Benn – Me. Gen Hospital, Portland #621.”
The 1940 Census finds Greta Alma Benn, age 23, as a “general duty nurse” residing at Guion Place, in New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York, but having been born in Maine and having lived in Portland, Maine in 1935.
Further research indicated that Greta was born 4 August 1916 to Melvin Leroy and Edith Jane (Warman) Benn in Aroostook County, Maine. I am convinced this is an image of Greta.
Greta Alma Benn has a profile on Family Search — LBDW-MKC. I have uploaded her image there.
Four out of five photos is pretty good for identifying. Again, if you know any of the Ralph Bearce’s, I’d love to hear if you can either confirm or eliminate any of the candidates.
Finally, if any of these photos are of a family member, I would love to hear your reaction.
[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 Photoshop Elements.