Several years ago my family (who are all genealogy nuts) received a box of photos from the attic of Cousin Lester and Elizabeth. As we searched through the box, looking at faces of relatives we were never fortunate enough to meet in person and knew only from stories, we came across this photo. “Who’s that girl?” I asked. No one seemed to know. The back of the photo had the printed information of the photographer, S.C. Choate, from Cumberland, Maryland. And across the top someone had scrawled the name “Harness.” There are no Harnesses in our family tree, and so the girl remained a mystery.
I held onto the photograph. There was something about it that intrigued me. Who was this young woman, looking so self-assured as she posed for the camera? Who did she become? What is her story? The unanswered questions left me creating multiple tales of her life, all the while thinking how many untold stories are buried in the past, just waiting to be discovered and brought to light once more.
Years later, the mystery girl became the face of my main character in The Education of Eve. Recently, we received another box of photographs from Cousin Lester and Elizabeth. To my surprise, it included a second picture of my mystery girl, this time taken by Hough Photography in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Our best guess? Perhaps she was a school chum of one of our ancestors who attended Salem College. Just like Eve.