It’s February and the stores are filled with heart shaped boxes of candy, so romance in on my mind as I select this weeks’ #52ancestors and #52familyphotographs. I don’t know when it was taken but I think the location is the back porch of James Haviland Tompkins‘ house in South Orange, NJ. This is Joseph Fairfield Poland and Eleonor Marie Tompkins. If it is courtship, then it is pre-1935 wedding.
I always wondered what it would have been like if my father and Joe Poland could have communicated more easily (email, whathaveyou) as their careers intersected in so many ways. Joe was an early force in the field of engineering geology and had a world wide reputation, known by Italians as the “savior of Venice” for his research on why that city was slowly becoming a puddle. Back in the states, he was instrumental in helping California deal with some of its many water issues.
I know far less about Eleonor, the grown up. I know that after her mother’s early death, Eleonor lived with the Tompkins clan in Jersey City. Haviland depended on his sisters Louise and Grace to take care of the little girl while he worked. It was a sad day for them when he married for the second time to Elizabeth Carol Baldwin and set up a new household which included Eleonor and two new children. The family story is that none of his children could leave Jersey City until Samuel D. Tompkins died. It bears out as shortly after his 1926 death, Haviland and family moved to South Orange.
Joe and Eleonor lived in Sacramento and had five children, who will not be named here because they are still alive and this is the internet after all.