Photo: The Mystery Monkey of Manistique

Have you ever opened a tattered shoebox of old family photographs? Or discovered a sepia toned image poking out the back of the family bible that has been tucked away in your attic for decades?

If so, you know the thrills and challenges of figuring out how the photo fits into your family's story.

Brothers Michael and Jack Hanley and others, around 1913, Upper Peninsula Michigan

Brothers Michael and Jack Hanley and others, around 1913, Upper Peninsula Michigan

Above is a personal family photo to illustrate my point. In full disclose, I did not find this photo buried on a dusty shelf somewhere. It came to me in the form a an email attachment from a cousin. For better and worse, digital photos and cloud based storage are the new genealogical shoebox.   

I'll tell you what I know about this photo and I invite you to speculate on the rest and help me fill in the gaps!

The man in the upper right is identified as my great-grandfather, Michael John Hanley (1890-1964). The man in the center front was identified as Michael's older brother John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946). Both were identified by my great Aunt Beverly (Hanley) Mansour, Michael's daughter. Michael and John had several other full siblings: Mary, Patrick, James, Daniel, Margaret, and Eugene (Tim).

You'll recall from a previous post (Blind Cornelius Kelly and the Beauty of Gaelic Prayer) that Michael and Jack also had an older half brother, Cornelius Kelly. 

Aunt Bev (1929-2009) was the reliable family historian before she died. She did not know the other people in the photo or the occasion. She only surmised that it was some sort of singing group. 

The Hanley brothers (along with their other siblings) were born and raised in Atlantic Mine, Michigan in the heart of the copper mining country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Their parents, Irish immigrants, were Patrick Hanley (1858-1923) and Mary Ellen (Sullivan/Kelly) Hanley (1850-1938).

1873, Michigan, Upper Peninsula ( photo credit )

1873, Michigan, Upper Peninsula (photo credit)

If you zoom in on the ribbon one of the men is wearing (bottom row, left) it appears to say "Manistique" and the year 1913. Another man's ribbon (top row, left) says Iron Ri****, which I am guessing is Iron River. Both cities were also in the Upper Peninsula. In modern driving times Manistique and Iron River are about 4 and 2 hours away from Atlantic Mine, respectively. I'm not sure what the travel times (or methods, did they take a train?) would have been over 100 years ago.

I'm not even sure where this picture was taken. I titled this post the Monkey of Mansitque primarilly for alliterative purposes.

Finally, I believe the mens' lapels have "Atlantic" stitched in them.  



So, them's the clues! Now it is your turn. Here is what I would like to know:

  • Who else is in this picture?
  • What's the occasion?
  • What is the deal with the monkey?
  • Anything else that we might learn from this photo?

Is there are photo you have that you would like others to help you identify or speculate about? Send it to me ( and I will consider it for a future post. For a real expert in genealogical photo identification please check out Maureen Taylor: The Photo Detective. 

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