Ethel Wight Collection – Part 23

Brisson, Broderick, & Brown (3)

Photo Friday
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 of the individual who paid for the photograph session, not necessarily of the individual portrayed in the image. As such, it is vital to analyze the photo and information to positively identify the photographs.[ii] Ultimately, my goal is to reunite the pictures with family members who may have never seen the image.

Stanley, Robert, & Donald Brisson, circa 1937.

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Leon Brisson, 1883 Washington Ave, Portland, #920.”

The 1937 Portland City Directory lists Leon F. Brisson and his wife Merna J. living at 1887 Washington Ave. Leon was a fireman with the MC RR. The 1940 U.S. Census enumerated the Leon F. Brisson household consisting of Leon, his wife Myrna, three boys, Robert J (Age 12), Donald L (Age 11) and Stanley W. (Age 10), and a young daughter (age 2). The three boys in this photo are Robert, Donald, and Stanley.

Family Search identifies Robert Brisson (1928-___) as ID: LTTT-G8H, Donald L Brisson (1929-2006) as ID: LTTT-7NV, and Stanley (1930-___) as ID: LTTT-C84. I have uploaded a photo of the trio to their Family Search profiles. Forty-one trees on Ancestry refer to Leon Freeman Brisson.

Mary Broderick (1900-1950), circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Mary Broderick, Exeter Hospital, Exeter, N.H., #539.” The photo appears to be of a woman in her mid-30s.

Mary Broderick of Exeter, NH

Mary A. Broderick, the 31-year-old single daughter of Daniel and Katherine Broderick, lived with her parents at 5 Cottage Street, Exeter, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, during the 1930 Census. She was working as a stenographer for the Electric Company. The 1941 Exeter City Directory indicates that Daniel died March 1939. Mary Agnes Broderick was born on 18 June 1900 in Exeter. The 1940 Census finds “Agnes” still ling at 5 Cottage Street, now with her brother, Joseph T. Broderick. In 1940, Agnes was working as a stenographer at N.H. Gas & Electric, Co.

I am reasonably confident that Mary Agnes Broderick, the daughter of Daniel Patrick Broderick and Catherine Donahue, is the same Mary Broderick in the photo. However, I have been unable to find any connection between Mary and the Exeter Hospital, a Family Search profile, or a specific tree on Ancestry. As such, I have added her photo to Dead Fred.

Either Rena Ione (Redmond) Brown (1900-1992) or Constance L. (LNU) Brown (___-___), circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Blanchard Brown, 166 Brentwood St., Portland, #771.”

This timeline is somewhat convoluted, but here goes:

1930 – Blanchard H. Brown married Rena Ione Redmond on 20 August 1919 in Portsmouth, NH. They were living together as husband and wife during the 1930 Census living at 28 Pleasant Ave. Blanchard was 37, and Rena was 29. They had been married for ten years.

1935 – The 1935 Portland City Directory indicates that Blanchard and Rena are living at 166 Brentwood.

1936 – The 1936 Portland City Directory is missing pages 173 through 177, which are the pages I expect to find Blanchard and Constance on. I need to follow-up and view the 1936 Directory.

1937 – The 1937 Portland City Directory does not list a wife for Blanchard H. Brown. It does list Mrs. Rena I Brown living at 15 Rackleff.

1938 – It is the 1938 city directory that puts everything into chaos. It lists Blanchard Brown and Mrs. Constance L. Brown living at 166 Brentwood. Note that Constance Brown was not listed in the 1937 directory.

1939 – The 1939 Portland City Directory lists Blanchard H Brown and his wife, Constance L., living at 166 Brentwood. All would seem fine except that Blanchard married Philomena K. Curato on 2 October 1939 in Portland.

1940 – The 1940 U.S. Census lists Blanchard H. Brown, and his wife Philomena, living at 166 Brentwood.

So, who was Constance? I have not found any records of Blanchard H. Brown marrying someone named Constance. I suspect that Constance was a live-in significant other that was only reported as his wife to keep appearances. If that is the case, then who is the photo of.  Based upon the number (771), the picture is likely to have been taken about 1937. If that is the case, I think it is likely a photo of Rena. However, If Blanchard married Constance about 1937, it could easily be a photo of his new wife at that time.

Maybe a family member of Rena can confirm it is a photo of her, or perhaps a family member of Blanchard can confirm his having another significant relationship.

Rena Ione Redmond has a profile on Family Search of LKR3-QBR. Over 40 Ancestry Family Trees refer to Rena Ione Redmond Brown Marshall. Without finding a marriage or divorce record for Constance L [Brown], I cannot find her on Family Search. Likewise, none of the 30-plus trees on Ancestry show Blanchard Hilchey Brown indicates a spouse name, “Constance.” As I believe this photo could be either Rena or Constance, I have not posted it to either place.

Orrin Richard “Dick” Brown (1929-1999), circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. D. J. Brown, 8 Grand St., Portland, #151.”

I thought the name was D.J. Brown; however, a review of the 1933 Portland City Directory found Orrin J. Brown and his wife Irene living at 8 Grand, which convinced me it was “O. J. Brown.” They were still living at that address for the 1940 City Directory. The 1940 Census found “Arrin J.” and his wife Irene Brown living at 8 Grand Street in Portland. With him was his wife and two sons, Richard L and Robert, ages 11 and 8. As this photo was taken about 1937, and the boy in the photo appears to be more likely an eight-year-old than a five-year-old, I believe it to be Richard and not Robert.

Family Search identifies Orrin Richard Brown (1929-1999) as ID: LT6J-FFL. I have uploaded a photo of him to his Family Search profile. (I have a similar image of Richard; however, it is pretty blurry.) Three Ancestry trees also refer to Orrin Richard Brown.

Dorothy Brown (1926-___), circa 1936.

This negative envelope says, “Miss Dorothy Brown, 22 Paris St., Portland, #193.”

The 1938 Portland City Directory recorded Edward R. Brown, and his wife Ethel R., living at 22 Parris. The 1940 Census finds Edward R and Ethel living with their 14-year-old daughter, Dorothy E. Brown, living at 24 Mechanic Street, Portland. This photo was of Dorothy about 1936 when she was about ten years old.

Family Search identifies Dorothy E. Brown (1926-___) as ID: LT6X-H25. I have uploaded a photo of Dorothy to her Family Search profile. No Ancestry trees refer to Dorothy; however, nine trees identify her parents, Edward Russell and Ethel M (Denbow) Brown.


I had:

      • Five successful identifications where I could post to Family Search
      • One probable identification that I posted to Dead Fred and contacted other researchers for confirmation.
      • One inconclusive identification (two potential candidates).

Final Note

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. All photos are ©Copyright Heirs of Ethel Wight.

My thanks to Ethel Wight’s family for access to and permission to use the collection of their great aunt for genealogical purposes.

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

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