Recently I have connected with some “cousins” through DNA results on Ancestry.com. These relatives are through my paternal line, more specifically the Portis family. George (1839-1916) & Mariah Minton (1848-1923) Portis had 7 children who lived to adulthood. I have written about them in earlier posts. Connecting with these Portis cousins got me thinking a little more about a picture my Grandfather, Loran McKinley (1916-2003), gave me.
The caption on the back of this picture was “March 20, 1909, Frances 10 months 26 days old. Died April 10, 1909.” My Grandfather identified the man in the picture as his uncle, Elbert Portis (1884-1952). He said that Elbert and his wife had no children. He had no idea who any of the children were, including the one named Frances, except that he thought they were Elbert’s nieces and nephew. This picture has sat in my collection for years. I tried initially to find out who was pictured, but didn’t have much information on the children of any of Elbert’s siblings.
Now I’ve looked a little closer at the picture and utilized some of the databases available to try to figure out who all these children are.
First, the date was given as March 20, 1909, so I could narrow things down a little.
I started with Frances. The Ancestry.com website has a collection of Indiana Death Certificates. I found the death certificate for Frances:
So this shows that the baby in Elbert’s lap was Frances Maude Portis who was born May 13, 1908 to Bert F. Portis (1876-1934) and Adeline Lampkins (1883-1912). Frances died of pneumonia.
Searching through the collection of photos from Grandpa, I found a couple that helped identify two of the other children:
This one we had tentatively identified as Frank Crider and Floy Erton:
The boy, Frank, in this picture looks like he could be the boy in the picture with Uncle Elbert.
Then there was another picture:
This one was labeled “Floy Erton” and looks like it may have been taken the same day as the group picture as she is wearing the same clothing.
Frank Crider (1896-1978) and Floy Erton (1905-1974) were half-siblings. Their mother was Bertha Portis (1875-1940). She married at least 6 times. Frank’s father was Thomas Crider (1858-1938) & Floy’s father was William Henry Erton (1865-1940).
So much for additional pictures helping with identification. What about the other 4 children? I went through what I knew about Elbert’s other siblings and their children. I had found a little information that wasn’t confirmed that gave some additional names. Going back to the Ancestry.com collection of US Census records, Indiana Death Certificates and other records, I confirmed the names and birthdates of some likely candidates:
Ethel Portis (1893-1939) was the daughter of Miles Bradley (1871-1929) and Harriet Littell (1868-1927) Portis. I would guess that Ethel is the girl in the white dress behind Elbert in the picture.
Jessie or Dessie Portis (1900-1954) daughter of Miles Bradley (1871-1929) and his second wife, Mary Hammons (1877-1906). Her death certificate gives the name Jessie, however other records have her name as Dessie. I think she is the girl in the dark dress to the left of Elbert.
Mary Ethel Portis (1900-1957) was the daughter of Burton F. Portis (1876-1934) and Adeline Lampkins (1883-1912) Portis. I have seen a picture of her as an adult and based on the similarity, I think she is the girl to the right of Elbert, standing behind Floy.
Jessie Portis (1903-1921) was the second daughter of Burton and Adeline. Considering she was the youngest of the 4 unidentified girls, I would think she is the girl on the far left in the picture.
So, a bit of guesswork to specifically place each child in the picture, but from what I know at this time, the children mentioned were the only children of Elbert’s siblings that fall into the right time frame to be in this picture. I wonder what prompted them all to gather to take the group photo?
© MJM 2021