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I have just concluded having my mother's extensive family photo collection digitized for use in our family tree and for the family's general use. Our mother passed away in 1989, so we waited too long to ask what would probably have been easy questions for her. Our mother was born and raised in Oklahoma in the 1920's and '30's. One of the photos is a formal portrait of a young woman holding what appears to be a book with a clasp, and there is a three-digit number -- 394 or 894 -- that someone free-hand wrote on the image.

We have studied and thought about the photo a great deal but still have no clues as to who she might be or if it points to a possible Indian connection. She looks as if she could have Indian blood, but her clothing is not obviously Indian. What significance might the number have, and might it be a clue that the photo is part of a larger collection? While a possible Indian connection would be a great discovery, our primary interest is simply identifying our "mystery woman" and adding her into our family tree if appropriate.

The number is hand-written on the front side of the photo. My mother was born in Earlsboro, OK in 1919 and grew up in Walters, OK -- however the "mystery woman" in the photo could have been born anywhere in OK or beyond. See photo attached.

Oklahoma "mystery woman"

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    Without knowing who wrote the number it could be almost anything. Possibly just a family member's reference for their collection. If it's written on the back it might be a reference from the photographer/printer to identify the image and tie it to a customer.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:47
  • Might be worth asking on geneology?
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 14:49
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    Could you attach the photo?
    – PausePause
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 16:23
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    Agree with PausePause. This might work better here as a question if you can upload a high-res copy of the photo and add the "identification" tag. This site is pretty good with those (and you did say you have it digitized now). Also, any further info on where and when in Oklahoma she was living might be helpful.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 17:42
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    As @T.E.D. mentioned, location will be required to begin to narrow down what information might be relevant. If the number represents a line on a tribal registry, location might indicate which volumes to begin looking for. Some general info to get you started at the Oklahoma Historical Society
    – justCal
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 22:32

1 Answer 1

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Getting a look at the photo gave me an impression of images I have seen of individuals in fraternal orders. The three digit number also aligns with the pattern of lodge numbers I have encountered in other research.

The Oklahoma Historical Society has a helpful page on fraternal orders in Oklahoma history and discusses the presence of various fraternal orders:

Among the nation's numerous fraternal orders, the Masons, the Odd Fellows, and the Knights of Pythias have enjoyed the largest membership.

Each of these orders also had women's auxiliary orders. The article mentions the Masons auxiliary was the Order of the Eastern Star:

Women had an auxiliary, known as the Order of the Eastern Star, which organized in the United States in 1876. On February 25, 1879, Murrow formed the O-Ho-Yo-Hom-Ma Chapter, the first Eastern Star chapter at Atoka, I.T. He helped set up eight others and the Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star of the Indian Territory in 1889.

But is the 394 number actually associated with the masons? A source on lodges in Oklahoma, a pdf listed as the Blue Book gives us a list of all lodges, past and present in Oklahoma. Page 60 of this document lists a now defunct lodge 394:

  1. . . Tinney. . . . . . . . . . Tinney. . . . . . . . . . . Consolidated-Lawton # 183.. . . . . . June 15, 1931

Lodge #394 was consolidated with the lodge in Lawton. Lawton is about 15 miles northwest of the town of Walters, where you mention your mother grew up.

So I believe the number 394 on your photo has some association with a fraternal order lodge, so you might with to look for family members with such associations. Often historical publications and biography collections such as A Standard History of Oklahoma will mention such affiliations.

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    Fraternal order auxiliary chapter # was exactly what I was thinking too when I looked at the photo.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 13:31
  • What a cool answer. Fiendishly difficult for OP to find, but potentially very productive once the clue is provided.
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 13:48
  • Yes, the photo combined with location info was definitely necessary to get anywhere conclusive. I am glad the OP updated the question and it got reopened.
    – justCal
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 13:50
  • I'm not sure how to ask my follow up question, so I will ask here: Could I get your opinion as to the approximate date of the photo? Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 16:18
  • Can't get much tighter then a 30 year span-1901 (that region opened for non-native settlement) to 1931 (lodge is consolidated with Lawton as per answer above).
    – justCal
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 5:03

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