Ethel Wight Collection – Part 25

Bucknam, Burnham, Burns (2), & Butler

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 important 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.

Alta F. Bucknam (1889-1962), circa 1936

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Alta Bucknam, 133 Fessenden St, Woodford, #30.”

Alta F. Bucknam, circa 1936

The 1937 Portland City Directory lists Alta F. Bucknam living at 113 Fessenden. The 1930 Census shows 42-year-old Alta F. Buckman also residing at 113 Fessenden. Finally, the birth record for Alta F. Bucknam indicates she was born 30 May 1889 to Charles H. and Lulu W. Bucknam in Portland, ME. This photo appears to be Alta in her 40s, about 1936.

Family Search identifies Alta F. Bucknam, daughter of Charles Hebert and Lillie W (Morrill) Bucknam, as ID: 9VDQ-LM3. I am sure this is Alta about 1936. I have uploaded photos of her to her Family Search profile. Alta is also found in seven Ancestry Trees.

Charles H. Burnham, Jr., circa 1934

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mr. Chas H Burnham, 262 Cumberland Ave, Portland #290.”

Charles H. Burnham, Jr., circa 1934

The 1937 Portland City Directory indicates Charles H Burnham was residing at 124 Federal. The 1936 Portland City Directory available online is missing the page (186) that I would expect Charles H Burnham to be listed. The 1935 Census lists Charles H (and Pearl) living at 16 Shepley. The 1934 Directory lists Charles H (and Pearl) residing at 291 Cumberland. The 1940 Census finds divorcee 28-year-old Pearl Burnham as a housekeeper in the household of Arthur and Alma Morrison, six-year-old Charles Burnham, Jr., a lodger at the Amelia Williams household at 76 Walton Street.

Charles H Burnham and Pearl Monteith were married on 14 October 1931 and divorced before 1 April 1940. Pearl went on to marry Edward Darling in 1951. Her 1996 obituary mentions her son, Charles Junior. So, I am convinced this is Charles H. Burnham, Jr., circa 1934.

Neither Charles H. Burnham nor his son Charles H. Burnham, Jr. have profiles on Family Search, although his mother Pearl Ruth Monteith (1911-1996) is Family Search ID: LVZ9-RN6. Pearl Ruth (Monteith) Burnham Darling is identified in 38 Ancestry Family Trees.

Kenneth Leon Burns (1933-2000), circa 1934 (age 1)

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Kenneth Burns, 125 Grant St, Portland, #465.”

1935 Portland city directly reports Kenneth L Burns and his wife Hazel Burns living at 125 Grant, apartment 11. Kenneth Leon Burns and Hazel I. Merrithew married 25 February 1933. They had two sons, Kenneth Leon Burns, Jr., born 21 June 1933, and David Roy Burns, born 6 November 1938. This photo is of a child about one-year-old and was taken about 1934 or 35, so it must be Kenneth Leon Burns, Jr.

Kenneth Leon Burns (1933-2000) is ID GMWV-BX2 on Family Search. I have uploaded two photos of him to his profile on Family Search. Kenneth is also found in 14 Ancestry Family Trees.

Lillian A (Deakin) Burns (1878-1966), circa 1934

The envelope this negative was in says, “Mrs. Lillian A Burns, 6 Clinton St., Portland, #137.”

Lillian A (Deakin) Burns, circa 1934

The Portland city directory shows George F. and Lillian A. Burns living at six Clinton in Portland. The 1930 US Census also shows George and his wife, the 43-year-old Lillian, residing at 6 Clinton. Lillian was born in England. The 1920 Census shows George and Lillian living on Clinton Street with their sons Robert and Frank. The 1930 Census also indicates that George and Lillian were married about 1906 and that Lillian came to the United States in 1904. This photo would be of Lillian about 1934 when she was about 47-years-old.

Family Search identifies Lillian A. Deakin, born 1880 in England and who married George F. Burns on 17 January 1906 as ID LB8F-XPF. I have uploaded two photos of Lillian to her Family Search profile. She is also identified in 25 Ancestry Family Trees.

Florence Butler, circa 1937

The envelope this negative was in says, “Miss Florence Butler, St. Barnabus Hospital, Portland, #998.”

Florence Butler, Nurse, circa 1937

1937 Portland city directory reports Florence Butler was a student nurse at 231 Woodford in Portland and that she lived 20 Norwood.  231 Woodford is the address for Saint Barnabas Hospital at that time. The 1938 directory also indicates Miss Butler was a student nurse; however, the 1939 Directory indicates she was a nurse, employed and residing at 1151 Brighton Ave., suggesting she became a nurse about 1938.

I have not been successful in finding Florence in the 1940 Census. Looking for any “Butler” in Cumberland County with Nurse as an occupation yielded one, Esther M. Butler. Expanding the search out to all Florence Butlers who were nurses in the 1940 Censuses yielded several potential candidates. Three of them were married; the other two were student nurses elsewhere. I also looked for all Florence Butlers that married 1938-1940. Again, no luck.

Based upon Portland City Directories, it appears that Florence Butler began her nurse’s training about 1936 and graduated approximately 1938, becoming a nurse employed at City Hospital (1151 Brighton Ave) in 1939. (Note: Do not confuse with Florence Eleanor Butler, who was a school teacher in South Portland during 1939.) I conclude I can not adequately identify this Florence Butler.

I have added her photo to Dead Fred.


I had:

      • Four successful identifications that I could post to Family Search
      • One partial identification I posted to Dead Fred.

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 (Photoshop Elements).

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