Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Her Daughter Etta Wolfe Wise: Some Photo Analysis

I have already written about Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe, the sister of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal. Amalie was born in Sielen, Germany, in 1847, and came to the US as a young woman in 1867. In 1872 she married Elias Wolfe, and together they had six children, including her daughter Etta Wolfe Wise, who was born in Pittsburgh in 1883.

A few weeks ago I heard from Alan, one of Etta’s descendants, and he shared with me numerous photographs of the family, including two that were labeled in part “Etta’s mother.” I was excited to see photographs of Amalie.

Alan said this one was labeled as Etta’s mother Amalie on the right:

And that this one labeled Etta’s mother Amalie as the woman on the left:

I can see that the two older women in these two photos are the same person—do you agree? The shape of their chins and their cheekbones are the most obvious similarities.

This is Amalie’s daughter Etta Wolfe Wise, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin. It might have been taken on her wedding day, June 2, 1910:

Etta Wolfe Wise, c. 1910. Courtesy of the family

And this is her husband, Max Wise, perhaps taken around the same time:

Max Wise Courtesy of the family

Knowing what Etta looked like made it easy to identify her in other photos, such as this one. That looks like Etta standing in the rear to our right.

Etta Wolfe Wise to far right, upper. Courtesy of the family

I think that the older woman standing next to Etta is the same woman as the older woman in the first two photos above and so presumably Amalie.

And I think Amalie is also the woman sitting between Etta and Max Wise in the next photo, Max sitting highest on the chair fourth from the left, then Amalie to his right, and then Etta to Amalie’s right.

The Wise Family Courtesy of the family

Here are closeups of the four faces of the older woman cropped from those photographs:

What do you think? Are these all the same woman?

That left me puzzled about the people in the other photos of Amalie. For example, in this one, is that Etta standing next to her? At first glance I thought so, but then I wasn’t sure.  Etta has such distinctive deep-set eyes, and the eyes of the woman in this photo looked different.

Here are some closeups of Etta from the known photos and from this one:

The more I look, the more I think it is Etta. And is this Etta in the more recent photo showing Amalie on the far left?

I think so, although the glasses and her squint make is hard to be sure. She certainly looks like the woman in the last of the cropped photos above.

So…what do you think? Is that Amalie in all those photos? Have I correctly identified Etta in the photos?

If so, then I need to figure out who the other people are in those photographs. To be continued…

30 thoughts on “Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Her Daughter Etta Wolfe Wise: Some Photo Analysis

    • Good question—Etta was born in 1883, so she was 41 when her mother died in 1924. Amalie was 78 when she died. If those are Amalie’ss granddaughters, Florence was only 13 when Amalie died, and I think the standing girl looks older, don’t you? Flora’s daughters would have been 21 and 16 in 1924 when Amalie died. Lee’s daughter Ruth would have been 19 in 1924. Does that help to narrow down the options? What do you think? Thanks, Cathy—that is helpful!


      • I think the woman on the right with the glasses looks older than 41. Or could it be that her hair being so much lighter (pre-mature gray?) than Etta’s in the other photos makes her look older?
        In the close-ups of Etta, in the first three, she has a wider nose between her eyes compared to the fourth one and the one below of the lady with the glasses. Not so sure all of them are of Etta.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OK, thanks for your thoughts. I have my doubts also. But I cannot figure out who else she might be, given that she was Amalie’s only surviving daughter and the photos were in the possession of Etta’s grandson.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s hard when you first get the photos and try to work with them. When I did my series on those old photographs several years ago, I noticed things only after about the dozenth time of looking them over! A timeline is definitely helpful along with dating the clothes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep. I should have asked Alan to hire Ava Cohn, but wasn’t sure he’s want to spend the money, and my budget for it is exhausted at the moment. So I have to settle for my amateur eyes and the help I get from my readers!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I tried to channel Ava also. But I don’t have her skills and knowledge. For example, I don’t know how to date clothing as specifically as she can. And she noticed the smallest physical details that elude me. But for now at least, I have to work with what I’ve got.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Similarities are often deceiving. People that appear the same could be relatives. If some facial features are alike one needs to examine their clothes or jewelry they wear. Perhaps such tell-tales will help solve the identification problem, Amy.
    By the way, after reading the sample of the Sante Fe Love Song I downloaded the full version on my Kindle reader. A very enjoyable piece of writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Late to the id party 🙂 I read through all the conversation with Cathy and Peter too (good necklace clue) I do think all 4 cropped photos of the older woman are Amalie. The comparison of the woman squinting and glasses I am not sure it is the same person….. This is a tough one. Also received my copy of Santa Fe and am enjoying it. I love the photo illustrations by the grands – they are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Amalie Schoenthal Wolfe and Etta Wolfe Wise: Photo Analysis Part II | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  4. Absolutely spectacular photos! I don’t know it’s so hard to identify people in old photos. But in the first set for comparison why does she have a widows peak and some in a straight hairline in one of them?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Etta was a striking woman! I’m terrible at comparing photos so I’ll steer clear of that. Yesterday I found a photo album of my mother-in-law’s filled mostly with young people’s photos. We saw a photo of an older man and assumed it was a teacher. As my husband started to “unglue” the photo I told him to not touch it. Boy am I glad he didn’t listen to me because it not only was labeled on the back but the name was that of his great grandfather. Score!

    Liked by 1 person

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