Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monday's Mystery - Desperately Seeking a Date

My Great-Great Aunt Alice V. Barrett and her proud purchase of a car!

Hmmm, that might not have sounded quite right.  I'm seeking a date genealogically speaking.  I'm at a loss in trying to identify the car in the photo.  No, it's not critical to my research.  Call it a burning desire. So if you can help at all I'd be forever grateful!  You'll be a legend in my family history!  People will name their children after you!  OK, maybe that one was a bit of an exaggeration...

So what do I know about the picture and the lady behind the wheel...

-Her name is Alice Veronica Barrett.  She is one of two daughters born to Patrick and Bridget Barrett nee Farley.
-Alice was born on 06MAY1887 in Hazleton, PA
-The car was most likely purchased in NY, NJ, or PA since those are the possible matches I have for where Alice lived.
-I would assume that the picture was taken sometime around the time she purchased it, being proud of a purchase that not everyone had.

I originally thought that this was a Ford Model-T and posted the picture on Facebook requesting help from people that may know more about cars than I do (and that's pretty much everyone).  A friend of mine said that he too thought that it was a Model-T and dated it to 1927.  While I love my buddy for trying to help, the date and model don't necessarily sit right with me (although that doesn't make him could just mean that I'm being difficult).  The biggest being that the tires weren't typical of the 1927 Model-T.  "Spokes" (for lack of a better term) were thinner and there were more of them in the pictures of the 1927 models I've seen.

So these are the aspects of the picture that I've been trying to match up with a specific make and model of car:

-The above mentioned tires.

-The "nose" of the car is relatively long, indicating that the motor was up front which was not always the case with early cars.

-The "vents" on the nose of the car are at an angle and there are several of them.

-The spare tire is on the back of the car and vertical (some spares were canted at a slight angle when on the back)

-It's a soft/rag-top.  From what I've read, fewer of these models were made as time went on and cars became more enclosed.

-The doors do not have a panel in between them.  If you check pictures of cars from this era you'll notice that very few cars have doors that are right next to each other.  There is a small panel in between the front and rear doors and the doors themselves are relatively small.  These are good full-size doors.

-Then I've got to take a look at the clothes that the ladies are wearing.  I'm rubbish at dating fashions as well, but I'm working on improving in that area.  From my novice experience. I would say that the hemlines are most likely too low for 1927 although I'm sure not everyone wore flapper-style dresses, I would still imagine that the overall hemline would be higher and the waistline lower than what is pictured here.

My best guess for the time period (and it is just a guess) would be sometime around 1917-1923.  That's mostly based on the tires of the car and my guess at the clothing, but I could be WAY off on that!

If you've got mad-skills or even just a guess on the time period based on the clothing or on the make and model of the car, I'd be forever grateful!


  1. Hi Cher, a friend says he thinks the car is a 1923-24 Packer!

  2. Sorry I'm absolutely no help, but I just wanted to say that it's a cool picture! :)

  3. Thanks! A 1923 Packard is the closest I've seen so far, but I wish I could find one with similar doors! I'm so car ignorant! You've got Packers on the brain, eh? ;)

  4. How about this one: A 1921 Climber Model 6-50 Four Door Touring:

    Hard to tell if the doors are right, but the wheels, front bumper, and rag top all look pretty spot-on. Even the little vent thingys are slanted.

  5. Oh, Jenny, I think you may have something there. It really does look like it! And I see you come from the same technical school as I do, "vent thingys". Love it! Thanks!

  6. I had really good luck getting an old car in a family picture identified at an old car show. I took a copy of the photo along with me and after the drive-by display I approached the announcer and asked him if he could tell me what model and year the car in the photo was. He took one look at it and knew it right away even though it was mostly blocked by people standing in front of it. It wasn't a common car either. People at car shows are as passionate as we genealogists are. You might get the make and model of your car verified at a local car show. Something to think about.

    Thanks for participating in the COG, Cheryl!

  7. Jasia,

    Thanks, I will certainly have to do that. I actually asked a couple friends that used to drag me around to car shows in college, but no luck. I may have to go to a show myself to find someone more knowledgeable! Thanks for the idea! :)

  8. Very cool car Cheryl! If my hubby wasn't already sound asleep I'd see if he could identify it. He's an old car buff and seems to know them all. Neat post!

  9. Nice car! Unfortunately, I probably know as much about cars as you do, haha!

    Great post, though. I'll be checking back to see if you find any answers!

  10. I honestly don't know for sure, but it doesn't look like a Model T to me (looks different than the old cars in our family pics!) But it sure is a neat photo, and the idea of taking it to a car show is a very good one! Especially if it is a big show! Maybe some auctioneers might have a clue, too? They run across a wide variety of 'stuff.'

    Good Luck in your quest!

  11. Thanks, Sherry! I agree about the Model T as well. I don't think it is at all. Did at first, but it just doesn't fit. I'll be keeping my eyes open for car shows!

  12. I have a car from the same time period...running boards, etc. Have no idea what make or model it is either :-D Looks like they might be on a vacation trip. The building behind looks like a roadside hotel.

  13. Lindalee - you know I never thought about that! An excellent observation! :)

  14. Here's what my dad offered - he's been an automobile dealer for 60+ yrs ....

    It's around a 1923 model, but he can only guess on brand. May be an Esix or Hutmobile. If he could see the front it would help. Said they made a few cars that didn't last long. But at least you might be able to research cars around the l923 era and come up with something. Now he said it could be a Durant or Studebaker.. Definitely not a Ford or Chevy. He said it's a fancy model - expensive automobile for the time. Also, he just mentioned a Pierce Arrow. Hope this helps

  15. Cheryl, while reading the 104th issue of COG your posting caught my eye. First let me say Awesome picture. Next, Jenny's link to the Early American Automobiles website is super cool. Who knew there were that many cars made in a given year?

    I compared your picture to the 1921 Climber Model 6-50 Four Door Touring. I also believe that they are the same car.

    A couple more similarities that haven't been mentioned are: right above the door handles there are what looks to be an indented area, maybe wooden. Probably to pull the door shut. The hood ornament (thermostat?) is raised on a thicker round base. Lastly the headlights are closer to the car than some of the other models.

    Good luck with the car show aficionados.

  16. There really were so many car manufacturers back then! :)

    Thank you so much everyone for all this input! I'm so delighted!

  17. You've received so much good advice on tips for identifying I couldn't add a thing, but I love the photo. It was unusual for a woman to make a car purchase in that era. Your great great aunt must have been an independent thinker and a bold woman! Cool.