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Methodist picnic in 1890


Although this photo identifies few Bluffton people photographed it offers several features that reveal interesting stories. The photo is from the collection of Richard Boehr.

The back side reads "M.E. Sunday School picnic held on College grounds." That translates to (Bluffton) Methodist Episcopal Church (now First United Methodist). The college was established in 1899. Our theory is that the photo is older than 1899.

Harl Mann's name is also written on the back. There are three "x" marks on the photo side. Two on the far left are beside a boy on the first standing row with a cap. That could be Harl Mann. As we remember him, he had a rather high forehead, just like the boy in the cap.

A Methodist revival passed through the Midwest about 1890. Bertha Althaus, grandmother of Fred Steiner, was "saved" at one of these revivals as a teenager. It is possible that she is standing in the center with her hair parted in the middle.

If that is the case, it proves this photo was taken prior to 1899 because she was married that year. The grandmother or grand-aunt of Roger and Scott Edwards appears to be sitting near the center of the third row with the large dark neck band. Her name escapes us at the moment.

An interesting couple in the back row left side appears to be an African-American man and woman. If not African-American, then certainly Eastern European. Viewers may decide for themselves if this is a correct assumption.

There are additional familar faces that we've noticed in other old photos of Bluffton. As those photos are studied, we may be able to pieece together additional names of persons. Viewers are welcome to offer their conjectures.

Certainly, Will Triplett took this photo. A final note: we are guessing the exposure time was a couple seconds. That means that everyone, including the young children, were reminded not to move for a few seconds, or they would appear blurred. Looks like everyone listened and sat still.


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