Monday, December 1, 2014

Mystery Monday - Twin Sisters Alice and Mary Kerr 1903 - 1907 (Edwardian)

Some time ago I purchased these two photographs of sisters Alice and Mary Kerr from an eBay seller who noted that they were twins.  If I remember correctly she stated she got them from an estate sale and that she knew the family or the family story.  I usually print out all my eBay purchases so I can refer back to them if needed, but for some reason I cannot find this one.  These photos have seen extreme wear over the years, especially Alice's.  My initial purpose of this post was to try and prove that they were twins, and after spending way more time than I should researching someone else's ancestors I did indeed find the proof I needed!

The sisters do look very much alike and their facial feathers, nose, mouths, eyebrows, seem identical. Their clothing and hairstyles are very much typical of the 1901 - 1907 period.  I will explain how I narrowed down the time frame to 1903 - 1907 later in the post when I discuss the photographer.

The back of Alice's photo is written in ink "Aunt Alice Kerr, never married."

Alice Kerr ca 1903-07
The back of Mary's photo is written in ink, "Mary Kerr who married Amos Reid - my Great Great Grandmother."

Mary Kerr Reid 1903 - 07
I've cropped these down some but the photographer was C. Myland of Philadelphia, PA which helped me to find  the sisters and their family in  There is actually more than one Kerr family in  Philadelphia in the correct time frame with daughters named Alice and Mary, but their ages ares separated by six to seven years. The family I believed to be theirs was in the 1900 Philadelphia Ward 33 census with father Thomas Kerr aged 46, mother Mary Ann aged 43, brothers Andrew 23 and Chas 22.  The twin sisters Alice and Mary were 16 born about October 1883.  That would make them about twenty to twenty-three in these photographs.

My mystery to solve was this the correct family and were these sisters indeed twins? Mary Kerr married Amos Reid on 21 August 1907 and they had three children.  They remained in Pennsylvania through the 1940 census where my information ran out. There was only one person researching Mary Kerr on and they did not have much information, but suddenly a death certificate popped up for Mary and all the pieces fell into place.  I then was able to find each census year of 1910 - 1940 for Alice and her mother who lived together after the father died sometime before 1910.  I also found Alice's death certificate.  The twins were born on 31 October 1883 in Philadelphia and died a year and half apart; Mary on 17 Feb 1944 and Alice on 9 Aug 1945.  Mary was a housewife throughout her lifetime and Alice worked as a weaver in the cloth-mill to support herself and her mother.  What different lives these two twins lived!

Alice Kerr 1883 - 1945
Mary Kerr Reid 1883 - 1944

I believe these photographs were most likely taken before Mary's marriage to Amos in 1907.  The photographer was C. Myland of 2125 N. Front Street, Philadelphia.  This was Christian Myland who emmigrated to the U.S. from Denmark in 1890 and petitioned for citizenship in 1903.  He was born in Denmark 8 Jan 1861 and upon his arrival in the Philadelphia in 1890 began his photography business which he ran until his death on 2 Nov 1925. He was listed in numerous years of the Philadelphis City Directory and this is how I narrowed down the years of these photographs.  In 1901 and 1902 he was located at 2733 N. 4th, moving to the 2125 N. Front Street address in 1903 which was also his home until his death according to his death certificate.

Myland was married to Mathilda Boston also from Denmark and they had four children all born in the U.S.; an infant son who died in 1891, Clara born 1892, Ejner Christian born 1895 and Harry born 1897.


  1. I really enjoy figuring out a family and finding their story, even if they aren't my family. I like your twins and enjoyed reading about how you solved your mystery.

  2. They were quite interesting, they even have the same birthdate as me!


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