Bessie Hammell Portrait Series, 1902-1905

This is a series of what I take to be school pictures, or whatever the equivalent was at the turn of the 20th century.

This is Bessie Hammell at age 14:

I’m guessing this next photo was taken when Bessie was 15 or 16. No age is noted on the photo.

This last photo appears to have been taken for Bessie’s high school graduation, at the same time as the full-length portrait posted earlier. The full-length portrait gives her age as 16. The one below gives her age as 17. She graduated in 1905 (if she was 16 at graduation) or 1906 (if she was 17 at graduation).


As a humorous side note, and to underscore the confusion over the spelling of Hammel/Hammell, the notation on the back of the first photo above is as follows:

In different handwriting, on the back of the last photo above:


This is probably an opportune time to say a bit about the rest of Bessie’s life. Her life, it would appear, was a difficult one. Some of that may have been self-inflicted (I don’t really know), but some of it was unquestionably due to circumstances outside her control.

I mentioned that when the 1910 census was taken, she was living with her parents and working as a collar girl at a laundry. In December of that year she married Roy Hutchins, the son of a farmer in Tangent. Bessie was 22, as was her groom.

In 1916 she had a son, Patrick John (who went by “Pat,apparently because he was born on St. Patrick’s Day). Sometime between then and 1922, Bessie and Roy appear to have moved to Canada. I don’t know where or why. (If you do, please speak up.) Weird to think they may have been in Canada at the same time as the Wrights, but I realize Canada is a big place.

In 1922, while in Canada, she had another son, William (who went by “Billy,” at least in the family). Bessie (with or without Roy) seems to have moved back to the Albany area soon after this. Evidently she and Roy divorced sometime during this period.

In 1929, Bessie married Clarence Radford, the owner of an auto service station (it would be interesting to know where it was). At the time of the 1930 census she was living with Clarence and two of his children his daughter (named Bonita) from a previous marriage, plus Pat and Billy (listed as John and William). I’m not sure where Pat was at this point.

Clarence died in 1935. It seems that Bessie received little from his estate (not a house, anyway). In the 1940 census Bessie is listed as a widow, living with Billy, who was then 18. They were living in the same place they had lived since 1935, which seems to have been an apartment in a building that no longer exists on SW Second Avenue near the present-day post office. Bessie was working in the laundry again, this time as a shirt presser.

Bessie passed away in 1951 at age 63. I believe she is buried at Willamette Memorial Park in Albany.

2 thoughts on “Bessie Hammell Portrait Series, 1902-1905”

  1. My Mom wrote about Bessie – ” Bessie married Roy Hutchins (Dec 1912), a smooth talker who borrowed money from Grandpa and never returned it. Bessie and Roy had John Royal (Pat) 3-17-16 [note: Mom’s birthday is 3-16-17] and John William “Billy”. They later separated and Bessie and the boys moved in with grandpa and grandma during the boy’s growing up years. Later Bessie married Clarence Radford who preceded her in death. She died quietly in her sleep at home. ”
    Also ” Pat (John Royal Hutchins) was a year older than I and we had lots of fun together. He married Maxine and had two sons, Reed and —-. He managed Elks Club in Albany for many years and later moved to Seattle. Bill married Ethel and they had 3 sons and a daughter, Debbie. He was with the National Guard in Lebanon and Milwaukie and is retired in Astoria now.”

    1. Thank you, Susan. This is very helpful. It explains where “Pat” was in 1930, since the census shows a “John” the same age as Pat living with Clarence and Bessie. He is listed as “John H.” rather than “John R.” but that still explains why he isn’t listed as “Pat” or “Patrick”.

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