More Great-Aunts

This week I present a rather oblique tie-in with the current Sepia Saturday theme ... with a long-lost (to me, anyway) photo of two of my great-aunts "at table."

I was recently lucky enough to be sent some photos of my Nettie and Ida Singer, sisters of my maternal grandfather Art Singer.

Nettie was born in 1878, reportedly in Odessa, Russia. She immigrated to the U.S. with her siblings Annie and Sophie and mother Molly in 1887, to join her father Isaac Singer in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Back in Russia their surname had been Yarmolinski, or Jermelensky, a common Ukrainian name. From immigration records, I have reached the conclusion that the daughters' names before becoming Americanized were Scheine (Sophie), Chane (Nettie), and Tulke.

Ida was born in Saint Paul in 1981, followed by the only boy out of five to survive, Arthur, in 1894. After bearing twelve children (only seven of whom survived), Molly (originally named Taube, I believe) expired of appendicitis in 1903.

Nettie and sister Ida in the dining room, c. 1909, just prior to Ida's marriage

The Binders' 50th; Nettie passed away in 1950 at 72
Nettie married James Binder in 1895. 
Jim and Nettie Binder - look at that curl!

Nettie all gussied up - satin and velvet?

Nettie's granddaughter reminisces: "I remember [Nettie] telling me that she was about 8 years old when she came [to America], but she did not tell about her life in Russia and, unfortunately, we kids didn't ask. Back then, the future was important and the past more or less forgotten... She was a character, but in a good way: peppy, outgoing, smart, and ahead of her time. ...for a short time she delivered smoked fish to stores for [her brother-in-law]. Also, she loved to play bingo...

"In the summers... she and [her husband, Jim] stayed at their cottage at a lake about an hour away from St. Paul/Minneapolis... [She] would fish, have her friends at the lake for mahjong games, and entertain family and friends there most every week-end. She loved people and they loved her."
Nettie and sister Sophie at poker in that dining room, brother Art second from right, c.1919

Three sisters, 1930s - perhaps at the lake cabin.

"The view from Nettie's place"
Nettie seems to grown more staid in later years...
The elder Nettie Binder

Nettie and niece Edith Feinberg


  1. Sean, you have a wonderful collection of photos. I do love Nettie's curl.

  2. I love those photos showing the difference that years makes!

    Ida was a pretty girl too!

  3. I love all those photos. It is interesting seeing both everyday life and portraits through the years.

  4. What a great collection of photos, following Nettie's life through the years! So glad you got some information from her stories, about those vacation days especially!

  5. Nettie is just grand -- I like watching her change over the years...wonderful photos, Sean!

  6. Enjoyed looking through your pictures, the first one reminds me of when I help organize our parents "25th" anniversary, we set up the tables in a U form in the living room and had to have 2 sittings because there wasn't enough room for all the guests, so Mom and Dad had to eat two meals,,hee hee hee.

  7. Lovely pictures and memories. I really liked the smiles and laughter. Looks like a nice family -- congenial and fun loving. Also the first pic of the dining room gave a real feel for who they were and how they lived and the important things to them.

  8. What a lovely woman with laughing eyes and a warm smile all the way through. My favorite photo, however, is the formal portrait you titled "The elder Nettie Binder". She just looks like someone you'd love to know! And how fortunate to have photos of Nettie and Jim on their first and fifty-first anniversaries. Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful photos.

  9. A super mix of photographs to illustrate a life. The two interior photos are interesting because we don't often see rooms from this era and they were taken from the same viewpoint. I bet many homes have that same feature of a favorite position for the cameraman.

  10. Oblique tie-ins are the very currency of Sepia Saturday because they lead people off in such interesting diversions. Your post is a perfect example.

  11. Lovely natural photographs of Nettie, Ida and family.

  12. Nettie looks to be a lovely woman, with those large eyes. The poker game looks fairly animated!

  13. Mike is so observant! I never noticed that the interior photos were taken in the same room. I wonder what the photographer used for lighting.
    You have shown us a delightful set of photos.