This photograph of the lovely Alice Lydia Gilbert was in a pile at an antique shop in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. On the back someone had written her name, “Alice Gilbert Siddall” and there was a stamp from Brown Photo Service, Minneapolis, MN with the date 7 February 1945.
Who was she and how did her photograph get from Minneapolis to Baltimore? My first tools, ancestry.com and findagrave.com were no help to me. I was looking in MN, for one thing, and combinations of what were apparently two last names got me nowhere. But google.com brought up one hit on the name as shown: An item in the Chester County (PA) Law Reporter of 21 May 2015 concerning her estate listed her name as “STRAY, Alice G., a/k/a Alice Gilbert Siddall Stray, late of Exton, Chester County, PA.” We were on our way.
Alice was born in Chester County, PA, in 1915 and lived there all her life until she died in 2015. According to her obituary, available on her findagrave.com memorial page, she had a long career as an elementary school teacher and was deeply involved in the civic life of her community. Alice survived two husbands, John Edward Siddall (1913-1984), whom she married in 1938 and with whom she had two sons, and Carston Sigvald Stray (1906-2003).
She graduated from West Chester State Teachers College in 1936. Her profile in the yearbook, The Serpentine, listed her nickname as “The Mill” (her father was a miller all his life) and her “Feature: Conscientiousness and domesticity.” Here is her photograph in the yearbook:
I ran across some society page articles which demonstrated a relationship between her parents and some Flickingers. I blogged about a photograph of Walter Flickinger in November 2015. Both photographs were purchased at the same antique shop, so perhaps they originated from the same estate.
I never was able to discover what she was doing in Minneapolis in 1945. She appears to be dressed in formal attire, so maybe someone was getting married.
8 thoughts on “Alice Lydia Gilbert Siddall Stray”
She is absolutely stunning.
Lora Siddall, I am please to make your acquaintance! If you look at my front page you’ll see a note from her niece which I received in April 2020.
Do you want the original print? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
She was my first grade teacher at Charlestown Elementary in 1958/1959, and probably the teacher who most impacted my life. Amazing woman, full of energy, you would see her striding down the hall in that no-nonsense manner she had, but with a twinkle in her eye. Imagine my amazement when I ran into her in 1987, at the old octagonal school house, Diamond Rock, in Chester County, where she was doing volunteer tours of the schoolhouse. And she remembered who I was!
Thank you for taking the time to tell us this story! This is one of the best comments this blog has ever received!!
I was a NYC Herald Tribune Fresh Air Fund guest for two weeks at the Siddalls in Malvern in the summer of 1955(56?). Their home named Meadowsweet, was where I was introduced to quintessential Pennsylvania
favorites like chipped beef gravy and scrapple. Mrs. Siddall took us to revival meetings and although i cannot recall the context, I learned hymns like Blessed Assurance and Send a Great Revival to My Soul. When I was leaving, she presented me with a bible in which she had placed a dried four leaf clover.
My father and mother
visited Malvern after my stay there and met with the Siddalls. Mr Siddall had a Japanese flag, a souvenir from the war. My father was able to translate the writing on that flag.
After my stay in Pennsylvania, son John came to stay with me at our little apartment in the lower eastside of NYC. Sadly, I just came across John’s obituary; I regret not having had the chance to renew our acquaintance, but am glad I now have a photographic image of both Mrs Siddall and John and the cherished memories.
I have thought of the Siddalls many times over the decades, always with great affection and appreciation for their kindness and generosity.
An epilogue to this story is I retired to Pennsylvania and have felt at home here, probably largely due to my experience with the Siddalls.
Dear Mr. Thom, thank you for your note and the story of your interactions with the Siddals. It made me very happy at a time when I really need it.
Please let me know if you need anything from Baltimore.