Friday’s Faces from the Past: McGinnis Family Portrait

Mary Jane (Gaffney) McGinnis (1858 – 1940)
Benita (McGinnis) McCormick (1889 – 1984)
Francis Eugene McGinnis (1891 – 1961)
John Charles McGinnis (1894 – 1944)
Alice Gaffney (McGinnis) Schiavon (1895 – 1963)

Some time during the late 1930s, the now-adult McGinnis children: Benita, Alice (my maternal grandmother), Gene, and John, gathered at the family home at 8336 Drexel Avenue in Chicago, Illinois,  with their mother, Mary Jane, for a family portrait.


The McGinnis family in the living room of the family
home at 8336 Drexel Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.  
 Clockwise, left to right: Alice (McGinnis) Schiavon,
Eugene, John, Benita (McGinnis) McCormick, 
and Mary Jane (Gaffney) McGinnis.  Circa 1936 – 1939.

As far as I can tell, this was their last portrait together.  Diminutive matriarch Mary Jane died on July 13, 1940.  By early 1963, Benita, the eldest, was left, her two brothers and sister having preceded her in death and leaving her to succeed their mother as the head of the now-extended family.  

As with another photograph of the family at Sunday dinner in the same home, this picture resonates with me because of its uncanny similarity to the living room in the first home my husband and I owned, in San Jose, California.  Just by looking at this photo, I know the half-height bookcase was one of two that sat under small windows and framed a simple yet elegant Craftsman-style fireplace.  

We did not have a similar decorative screen in our own front window, however. I suspect the  photographer might have placed the one in the picture there for aesthetic purposes, to block out the street view and not distract from the subjects. I wish I’d done something like that when we took pictures in the same spot in our own family home so many years later!

Copyright ©  2015  Linda Huesca Tully

2 Thoughts to “Friday’s Faces from the Past: McGinnis Family Portrait

  1. Linda, how interesting that your first home reflected some of the same appointments as this McGinnis home. Now that I'm researching family history–and DNA in particular–I am constantly amazed at how certain preferences seem to resonate through the generations.

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