Flash-forward with the MacGregor sisters

Remember these gals? My great-grandmother Mary and her four sisters.  When we last saw them they were little girls in white dresses in south Texas around 1900. Their mother was Anna Jones MacGregor (whose baby photo we saw in the last post) and their father was Dr. W.W. MacGregor (bearded wonder doctor and one-time superintendent of an insane asylum). It’s been a few years, and now the Sisters MacG have grown up into… young women in white dresses in south Texas.

(They were on the Mexico border, though, and it must have been hot. White probably was a good choice.)


From left to right: Margaret, Mary, their mother (Anna Jones MacG), and Kathryn.

My guess is that these photos were taken around 1907 or 1908, with Mary in her late teens, Margaret around 13 or 14, and Kathryn around 12. (Was 15 the age girls graduated to longer skirts?)

Here’s Anna, who would have been just out of her teens, old enough to occasionally don black dresses and alarming corsets:


Anna MacGregor and shadow of unknown photographer (Mary?)


Anna, on right. (Dear God, that WAIST!)

There are dozens and dozens of these photos of the girls, and their friends and family, all printed on thin paper and pasted into albums (I found three albums that had several duplicate photos in common; they must have belonged to different sisters). Apparently Anna and Mary, being close in age, had some friends in common. Anna also appeared to be close to some young women who might have been cousins and were having children of their own (since one of the albums has several pictures of toddlers, accompanied by these young women as well as older folks who might have been kin to Dr. or Mrs. MacG).

Helen, the third and middle MacGregor sister—she’s the one with glasses—shows up only briefly in these albums. She was attending high school up in Grand Rapids, Michigan for some reason. (How I found this out is a whole other blog post.)


Helen, Anna, and Mary MacGregor.

Here’s another of the three of them. Unlike their baby and childhood pictures, which were posed shots and studio portraits printed on cabinet cards, these were snapshots—spontaneous and blurry and fun, taken by the girls themselves. At least one of them and/or their friends must have had a Brownie or some other early mass-market camera. It really lets you see so much more of what their life was like.


Helen, Mary, and Anna clowning around.

Here are these three again (same day I think). The sign on the porch behind them says “Post Office, Minera, Texas.” Minera was a tiny mining town outside Laredo.

IMG_7398This post office porch shows up more than once in the photo albums—the girls visited there on at least one other occasion and posed with other locals. I wonder if being Dr. MacGregor’s daughters meant they were more familiar with the community beyond their own social sphere. The girls attended private schools, but I found mention of Helen growing up bilingual and I assume it was the same for the other girls. (Anyone know if Nana spoke Spanish?)

I love this one of the younger girls. Mary is standing, Kathryn and Margaret are in the trees, Mother is on far left.(And then an audience beyond the fence!)


Finally, here’s a closer peek at Margaret and Kathryn, sitting down…

The women behind them are definitely Mother (Anna Jones MacGregor) on the right, and the white-haired woman is Dr. MacGregor’s sister, Catherine MacGregor Van Winkle. As for the men, I don’t feel I can guess yet… maybe the man on the right is Mr. Van Winkle? And the man on the left is… Dr. MacGregor himself? He seemed to usually elude these snapshots, so I hesitate to say it’s him.

But at least we can recognize all the sisters now…

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