I have this photo sitting on my desk at work. It is a little 2×3 inch picture inside a soldered silver metallic frame. It belonged to my Great Grandmother, Lillian Coley Jonas (1898 – 1987). It came from the collection of photos left to her by her mother, Martha Christiansen Coley (1879 – 1961).
My first impressions of the picture remind me of Lillian’s brother, Arthur Christiansen Coley (1921 – 2004). But for his age, the clothing are the wrong time frame. But because of the family resemblance I can see in Uncle Art, I know this man is related to me.
Since the picture belonged to Martha, I have often wondered if this is a picture of her father, Olle Christiansen (1853 – 1900). But the hat, tie, shirt, and suspenders don’t match for a person who passed away in 1900.
Since he looks like Uncle Art, but the person in the photo has to be greying and older by the 1930’s, then I believe this is one of Marth’a brothers. I know very little about the brothers. Martha had three brothers: Henry Owen Christiansen (1887 – 1932), Roy Christin Christiansen (1892 – 1892), and Ole Loren Christiansen (1898 – 1977). Since Roy died as a baby, I know it isn’t him.
That leaves me to Henry Owen and Ole Loren. Henry Owen and Martha seem to have done very little to keep in contact. Not a single letter, post card, or photograph that we can tell document anything in communication. Plus he died in 1932, so the photo above had to predate that date. I am not a great teller of fashion styles and changes, but I believe the above photo’s clothing would date during the 1930s into the 1940s. As such, I believe this photo is of Ole Loren.
I have one photo of Ole Loren. Don’t you think they are close enough in features that they could be the same. However, I do not know if Henry Owen looked like him.
I don’t even know which sister of Loren’s is on the left. From other photos and correspondence I very much believe this is Rhoda. With the letters and cards between the two, it is very likely this photo was provided to Martha by her. The photo only says “Sister, Loren, and wife” on the back. Ole Loren, who I believe went by Loren, probably to differentiate him from his father, only had two wives that I am aware. Sara Strong (1900 – ?) who he married in 1918 and Florence Knapp (1898 – ?) who he married in 1926. I don’t know what happened to Sara, there appears to have been a divorce. For the time of this photo, Florence is likely his wife. I can tell the sister on the left is a sibling to Martha and Loren, I just don’t know which one.
Henry Owen Christiansen appears to have died in Tillamook County, Oregon. On his service registration in 1918 he is living in Northport, Stevens, Washington with a wife of Anna Wilda Christiansen. I believe she is Anna Wilda Hooser from Texas. They appear to have had children named Mary, Madison, Gerald, Henry Jr, and John. Quite a bit more research to properly piece the family together.
Ole Loren Christiansen appears to have died in Oakland, Alameda, California. I believe two children were born to Sara, Ruth and Robert, and two to Florence, Lorraine, and Lucille. Lorraine and Lucille may have been twins, both born the same year.
Without more photos to compare, I don’t believe I will pin point these individuals while in mortality. But at least I have narrowed down the family relationships. If anyone has more information on Ole Loren Christiansen or Henry Owen Christiansen, I am very much interested in any clues or leads you can provide.
At any rate, people often ask me about the little frame on my desk. All I usually say is it is my Great Great Grandmother’s brother, I don’t know which one. Most don’t say anything about that, but a number of commented on how intriguing the picture is. I agree, some day I will learn more on Loren and Henry and hopefully can provide an update.