June is “National Homeownership Month” and this year’s theme is “Bringing Rural America Home.” Accordingly, we use the occasion to showcase some of our photographs of Texans posed proudly outside their homes in small towns and rural areas.
Primarily the work of itinerant photographers, these images are not just a record of an ancestor’s appearance, but also where they lived. As portable photography became less complicated in the late 1870s, commercial photographers regularly traveled to rural areas where they found customers that were eager for family portraits. For those not willing to commission individual portraits, the photographer could take a picture of the whole family with their house as a backdrop. Sometimes the subjects changed into their Sunday clothes and gathered some of their favorite possessions, including pets, farm animals, bicycles, and even indoor furniture. Family outside the house was a recurring photographic theme from the early 1880s until the 1910s, when Kodak cameras became more common.
Most of these photographs, from our General Photograph Collection, were copied from family collections representative of the different ethnic groups that settled in Texas. Unlike studio portraits, these images provide the viewer with insights into the lifestyles of the subjects. Likewise, they document the building and landscaping traditions used in the various areas of the state.
–Carl and Jennie Jensen and children outside their house in the Danish farming community of Danevang, Wharton County, circa 1912. (MS 362: 072-0725)
–Dogtrot log house of Carl and Ottile Goeth, German Texans, Cypress Mill, Blanco County, circa 1880. (MS 362: 070-0096)
— Andrew and Lydia Reeves and family at their farm house with beehives in the yard, near Buckners Creek, Fayette County, circa 1892. (MS 362: 072-1979)
— Sampson and Mary July and children outside their house, constructed of local material, in the Black-Seminole village of Las Moras, near Brackettville, Uvalde County, circa 1905. (MS 362: 068-1099)
James Henry and Betty Bass and children sit on zigzag rail fence outside their single-pen log cabin on farm near Joplin, Jack County, circa 1892. (MS 362: 093-0357)
John and Johanna Rolf family and visitors pose around dining table placed on the native grass in their front yard, New Sweden, Travis County, circa 1905. (MS 362: 090-0220)
— Polk Priestly family outside farmhouse near Turney, Cherokee County, 1894. (MS 362: 081-0671)
Czech-Texans Ignatz and Theresa Gallia and family pose in their yard, planted with bananas and other imported plants, Engle, Fayette County, circa 1896. (MS 362: 078-0281)
Paul and Annie Mika’s farmhouse, with steeply pitched roof, near the Polish community of Panna Maria, Karnes County, circa 1905. (MS 362: 068-1207)
Japanese-Texans Rihei and Hisa Onishi with family and friends outside their newly purchased house and rice farm near Webster, Harris County, 1904. (MS 362: 086-0263)
Louisa Jane and Grey White and children stand outside their ranch house of box and strip construction in northwestern Dimmitt County, circa 1886. (MS 362: 088-0082)
Mary Anna and Jacob Groff and their youngest child stand in front of their stone farmhouse near Castroville, Medina County, circa 1910. (MS 362: 081-0639)
Francisca and Nasario Pena and daughter stand outside the family home, with walls of plastered caliche blocks, San Diego, Duvall County, circa 1909. (MS 362: 100-00?)
French-born Gustave Toudouze’s house, constructed of brick from the owner’s private brickyard, Losoya, Bexar County, circa 1880s. (MS 362: 078-0533)
Family gathering outside the adobe house of Susie and Ben Gallego, Alpine, Brewster County, 1908. (MS362: 096-1042)
Dr. O.C. Jackson shows off his automobile outside the family home, Voca, McCullough County, circa 1909. (MS 362: 078-0488)