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The Ties That Bind

The photograph above, from our Special Collections Department, is inscribed on the back as follows:


“Fannie Haseltine/ Died Sept. 10 1872 / Minnie Negley / Mrs. Sculley / Minnie Patterson / Mrs. Ritter.”


The library’s collection also includes a carefully preserved portrait of Fannie by herself as well as an intriguing photo of a group of school friends, Fannie Haseltine and Minnie Patterson among them. Who are these girls, and how did a set of family photos taken in Ohio and Pennsylvania end up in Haverhill, Massachusetts?


















One deep dive into Ancestry later: Fannie Haseltine, Mary Elizabeth “Minnie” Negley, and Minerva “Minnie” Patterson were same-aged cousins, born to three different members of the Negley family in the year 1852.  Fannie and Minnie Patterson were particularly close in age, born on December 20 and 28 respectively.  Eventually the “twins” shared a household as well: by 1870, Fannie and her younger sister (also named Minerva!) had been orphaned, and were living with their maternal grandfather John Negley in Butler PA.  Also in residence: their widowed aunt Susan Negley Patterson and her children, John and Minnie.

As suggested by the inscription, Mary Elizabeth Negley eventually became “Mrs. Sculley,” marrying John Sullivan Scully in 1871.  Minerva Patterson married William Henry Ritter in 1875.  As for Fannie, Butler County had not yet started issuing death certificates at the time of her demise.  The cause of her death at the age of only 19 thus remains a sad mystery.  However, when her sister Minerva Haseltine Pomeroy moved to Haverhill decades later with her husband and children, a set of cherished family pictures apparently came with her.

Then as now, the images we make help us remember the people we love.


Written by Katherine Philbin, Special Collections Volunteer

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