Favorite Photo Friday – Mary Simko

Mary as a baby

Mary Simko was my husband’s grandmother. I love this picture of her, taken when she was probably about a year old. Mary was born on 21 November 1914 as “Maria” Simko in Creighton, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to Michael Simko and Mary Kelovcy. She moved to Slovakia with her family in the late 1920s and returned to American in 1936 with her husband and daughter.


Favorite Photo Friday – Photo Booths!

I was looking for a few old photos and came across these photo booth pictures! They were taken in Asbury Park 1962 of my mother, my father, and his grandparents Mem and Pap (Elizabeth Linneman Speck and Charles Merz). My parents were dating at this time, and Mem and Pap were out visiting from Pittsburgh. My favorite frame is the last one of my great-grandmother!

1962            1962_0001


Have you found any photo booth pictures in your family treasures?



Favorite Photos Friday- Art’s Pictures of Agnes

Agnes (Speck) and Art Cubbage, New Providence, New Jersey, circa 1954.

It’s Women’s History Month, and I am highlighting my female ancestors. My grandmother, Agnes Speck Cubbage, died when I was only six years old. These beautiful images of her, long before I was born, capture some of her personality.

My grandfather, Art Cubbage, was the photographer of his family. He wasn’t in many of the pictures – he was usually the one behind the camera. Art took pictures of his family and friends on holidays and at family events, but also around the house and yard. I have already written about his awesome slide collection (which was dated and labeled!). The black-and-white earlier prints were just as wonderful, although these were not labeled like the slides. While Art’s posed pictures of family in front of the Christmas tree were nice, it was his candid shots of his wife Agnes that I love the most.

Agnes 1957

I absolutely love this picture! These mundane, everyday shots of Agnes might seem unremarkable, yet I feel that I know her a little better through these images. Agnes’ expressions share so much about her.

Agnes 1957

I like this one because it shows their kitchen in New Providence in the 1950s. I remember visiting in the 1970s, but some things had been updated by that time. I wonder what she was saying when Art took this one.

This series of pictures isn’t labeled, but appear to be taken in their backyard in New Providence, probably in the 1950s. It looks like something happened after the first two shots and Agnes was going towards Art. This one really shows a more playful side … different from the posed pictures, and so many of the other candid shots of Agnes where she seems more serious.

maybe 1950s

Many of Art’s pictures are of Agnes doing everyday activities … cooking, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper. I love these snapshots of their life together.

Agnes August 1959

This is one from the slide collection. It was double exposed with another image overlaying it towards the bottom. Even with that, I like her seriousness and expressive hands while she is talking. Again, I would love to know what she was talking about.

Jeff, Cork, Ag August 1959 (1)

This serious picture of Agnes was with a series of images of her and sons Corky and Jeff, where they appear to be on a boat trip. I love this picture too!

d February 1960 (9)

Another picture of everyday life … talking on the phone. I can remember where the phone was in the hallway, as well as the one-piece table and chair by the phone (some call it a “gossip chair”). I like the glimpse of their bedroom in the background too.

Spring 1961

Even in this posed shot, I love Agnes’ expression and the way her sons, Corky and Jeff, are looking at her.

d May 1962 (4)

A more serious, pensive picture of Agnes. The red lipstick is a contrast to the simple housecoat.

I am so thankful for all of the pictures that my grandfather took, especially the ones of my grandmother. I wish I had seen them years ago so I could have asked him about them. Lesson learned … ask your family about pictures now so that we aren’t leaving it up to speculation years later!

As you research your family, go through any photos that you can find. Ask your living relatives about the people. Look for those everyday images of your ancestors’ lives.

Did you have an amateur photographer in your family? Do you have any favorite pictures of your ancestors?

Favorite Photo Friday – James & Barbara Cubbage

Above my desk I have two large images of my second great-grandparents:


These images were in possession of my grandfather, then my father, before being passed down to me in 2014. My guess is that James and Barbara sat for these in the 1890s in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

James Cubbage was born in 1829 in Allegheny County to John Cubbage and Mary Jane Stoup.[1] He moved to Butler County around 1850 and married Barbara in 1852.[2] Barbara Black was born in 1837 in Butler County to John Black and Margaret Sarver.[3]

James and Barbara had nine children between 1853 and 1873 (20 years of childbearing!).[4] They did not own any property until 1873, just before their last child was born (my great-grandfather Charles).[5] James died in 1906 in Penn Township, Butler County.[6] Barbara died just under a year later.[7]

I love having these images over my desk … they inspire me as I research, write and learn more about my ancestors. I see some other Cubbage men in the face of James – especially in the eyes. Barbara looks pretty serious … maybe even stern a bit stern, but it might have been the 20 years of childbearing. Or it reflects what life was like with a large family in rural western Pennsylvania. Or maybe it was because that around this time, five of her sons began to move away from Butler County and scatter around the country.

These treasured family heirlooms bring me joy every day. Do you have any family photos or images that are important to you?


[1] Pennsylvania Department of Health, certificate of death no. 13513 (1906), James Cubbage; Bureau of Vital Statistics, New Castle.

 [2] 1850 U.S. census, Butler County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Buffalo Township, p. 22 (stamped), dwelling 308, family 310, John Black household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://ancestry.com : accessed 28 February 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 760. Also, James Cubbage, drinking glass, ca. 1852, privately held by William Arthur Cubbage, Jr. [address for private use,] Long Valley, New Jersey. The glass is etched with “James Cubbage married 1852.”

[3] Butler County, Pennsylvania, Probate file B-120, will of John Black (1851). Also, “In Memoriam – Barbara Cubbage,” obituary from unidentified newspaper; photocopy privately held by William Arthur Cubbage, Jr. [address for private use,] Long Valley, New Jersey, ca. 1975.

[4] James and Barbara Cubbage Family Bible Records, 1853-1902, The Holy Bible (New York: American Bible Society, 1870), “Births”; privately held by the author, Metuchen, New Jersey.

[5] Butler County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 36: 150-151, James Bartley and wife to Barbara Cubbage, 28 April 1873; Recorder of Deeds, Butler.

[6] Pennsylvania Department of Health, certificate of death no. 13513 (1906), James Cubbage.

[7] Pennsylvania Department of Health, certificate of death no. 11927 (1907), Barbara Cubbage.