Peter Christopher Costlow (1846-1905) and His Wife Matilda Topper Costlow (1850-1935)

Peter Christoper Costlow (1846-1905) is my 3rd great uncle. He is the older brother of my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Margaret Costlow Rhoads (1858-1947). I recently wrote about their father, my 3rd great grandfather, James Costlow (1822-1904).

Here is Peter with his wife, Matilda Topper Costlow (1850-1935). I obtained this original photo from the photo album of my great grandmother, Ida Rhoads Sears (1900-2002). It was presumably labeled by her or one of her daughters. 

  Peter Costlow (1846-1905) and Matilda Topper Costlow (1850-1935)

Peter Costlow (1846-1905) and Matilda Topper Costlow (1850-1935)

With Peter's sunken eyes and thin, almost gaunt face, and Matilda's pursed lips, this portrait conveys a somber mood to me. How does it strike you? 

I have had the pleasure of connecting with two direct descendants of Peter and Matilda recently. They had not had a photo of Peter so it was nice to be able to provide them with one. 

Peter was born on November 22, 1846 in Cambria County, PA. He married "Tillie" (Matilda) around 1870. They are listed on the 1870 Census, he as working the farm, her as keeping house, without children. At that time they appear to have been living next to Matilda's parents, Henry and Elizabeth Topper with, presumably, several of Matilda's younger siblings.

By 1880 Peter and Matilda are listed as having 5 children between the ages of 10 years and 2 months. 

My records indicate that they would end up having 10 children in total between 1870 and 1896. There are still some gaps I need to fill in, but here is what I have for Peter and Matilda's children:

  • R. F. Costlow (1870 - ??)
  • Alice M. Costlow (1873 - 1972) - married John Fox
  • Charles Dorphus Costlow (1975 - 1955) - married Augusta Belfor or Beufort
  • Annie Costlow (1877 - ??)
  • Rose E. Costlow (1880 - 1976)
  • Peter Christopher Costlow (1882 - 1970) - married Sadie L. Miller
  • Harry M Costlow (1886 - 1967)  
  • James Costlow (1889 - ??) - married Blanche Adkins
  • Elizabeth Cecilia Costlow (1891 - 1982) - married Robert Myers
  • Clarence A. Costlow (1896 - 1921)

One detail in the photo above is throwing me for a loop. The photographer is "Parfitt" from Goshen, Indiana. But, I have no known relatives from there. The large and sprawling Costlow families were firmly established in and near Cambria County Pennsylvania for several generations.

There was another photo of an unidentified woman in my great grandmother's photo album. It too has an Indiana photographer, Lentz Brothers of Peru, Indiana.

  Unidentified woman from the same photo album as Peter Costlow and Matilda Topper Costlow

Unidentified woman from the same photo album as Peter Costlow and Matilda Topper Costlow

And here is the back of that photo.

  Lentz Bros. Studio - Peru, Indiana

Lentz Bros. Studio - Peru, Indiana

Peru is a city about 60 miles south of Goshen in Indiana. It is really quite perplexing to me to me the photographers from Indiana ended up on photographs in this photo album. 

This is a mystery I will have to investigate further.

It is possible that this original photo was misidentified by my great grandmother, but that seems unlikely. My great grandmother was 5 years old when her uncle Peter died, so she likely would not have recognized him. But, it seems she would have know what aunt "Tillie" looked like, who died when Ida was 35.

As a psychologist, genealogist, and historian here are some of the questions I have:

  • Is this really Peter and Matilda Costlow?
  • Who is the woman in the second photo?
  • Did photographers travel? Is it possible that photographers from Indiana took and sold photos of people in Pennsylvania?
  • If this is Peter and Matilda, did they have reason to be in Indiana to take family photographs?
  • Is the woman in the 2nd photo connected to couple in the 1st, or is it just a coincidence.
  • What were Peter and Matilda lives like when this photo was taken?
  • What do you wonder about, think, and feel as you look at this photographs?

This is the 28th of 52 weekly posts planned for 2018. It was inspired by the #52Ancestors writing challenge issued by professional genealogist, Amy Crow Johnson. The challenge: once a week, for all 52 weeks of the year, write about a relative in your family tree.