Felicitas and Edward Morrissette, aunt and uncle of Adolph Farrow. (Photo courtesy of Darren Smith – Adams Family Tree)
Occasionally here in the archives a single photograph with a simple inscription can yield a fascinating connection into the history of Salem and the Pacific Northwest. One such opportunity presented itself recently when we found this photo of Adolph and May Farrow (X2011.003.0231). We don’t know how it got to the museum, but the photo itself provides several clues about its subjects and their story. May’s high neckline, puffed sleeves, and center hair part would suggest late 1890s, early 1900s. Both Adolph and May are dressed rather formally for the portrait, an important occasion perhaps? Last but not least, a clue from the inscription on the back of the photo which reads, “Photo of May and Adolph Farrow that was given to their uncle and aunt Mr. and Mrs. Ed Morricette.” Using the names recorded on the back of the photograph and the approximate time-frame derived from the visual clues, we turn first to the Federal Census records. Adolph Farrow was born January 18, 1878 in Washington to Adolph Ferro and Susanne Morrissette. Margaret “May” Blodgett Farrow was born May 5, 1884 in California. Both Adolph and May are of Native American descent as noted in the race column of the Federal Census records. Their connection to Salem appears in the 1900 Federal Census which records “May” as a pupil attending the Chemawa Indian School. Adolph graduated from Chemawa Indian School in 1898 with top honors in harness making and the saddlery trade . After his graduation he was hired by the school as a shoe and harness maker. It was during this time that the couple became acquainted. Adolph and May were married in 1904 and were the parents of 3 children: daughters Elsie Ellen (1907-2002) and Lillian Anita Farrow (1914-1997), and son Elzie Byron Farrow (1917-1995). Indian Census Rolls list them as members of the “Cayuse Umatilla Walla Walla tribe“ residing on the Umatilla Reservation. They remained in Umatilla until Adolph’s death in 1936. After Adolph’s death, May returned to her family in California and married for the second time. Her death is noted in the California Death Index as August 7, 1981. Now for the inscription on the back of the photo, who are Mr. and Mrs. Ed Morricette and what is their relationship to May and Adolph? The public trees on Ancestry.com give us a valuable clue. According to the Reed Family, Susanne Morrissette, Adolph’s mother has 3 siblings: brothers Frank (1853-1921) and Edward (1858-1942) and a sister Julia (1859-1948). This information can be verified with the 1860 Federal Census for Walla Walla County, Washington. Edward marries Felicitas Cecelia Ward on February 16, 1885 in Umatilla, Oregon. They are both listed on the Indian Census Rolls as residents of the Umatilla Reservation until their retirement in the early 1930s when they move to Woodinville, King, Washington to be closer to their adult children. Edward dies on September 10, 1942 and Felicity on March 14, 1948. They are both buried in the Athena Cemetery on the Umatilla Reservation. Edward and Felicity are the Mr. and Mrs. Ed Morricette (uncle and aunt) listed on the back of our photograph. From a simple photograph with inscription, a story begins to unfold. What’s in your closet?