Saturday, April 13, 2013

Depression Era Photos of Henry Monk from the Library of Congress

Henry Monk, tenant farmer near Ruthven, Iowa
December 1936
Photographer Russell Lee
Accessed via the Library of Congress website

I have recently heard from one of my readers, who is a member of the Monk clan, that she noticed that I often post my items early in the morning, and that to be up this early, I must be a “true Monk”. There may be something to that, as my father used to arise early, too. In honour of her, and other members of the extended Monk family, some connected by marriage, who have contacted me and who have helped with my research and this blog, I decided to do another Monk blogpost. Just to remind you, gentle reader, I do try to respond to your feedback and help by posting more items from the lines which interest you.

I came across this photo of Henry Monk through some random Googling, I think. It is from the Library of Congress website, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997021277/PP/, and is titled, Henry Monk, tenant farmer near Ruthven, Iowa. Its publication date is December 1936, and the photographer was Russell Lee. I present it to you here, as I believe it to be in the public domain, based on the information from the website.

Which Henry Monk is he? I believe him to be my second cousin once removed, Henry Vernon Monk, son of Merle Monroe Monk and Ruth Henrietta Beams Monk. He was born on April 17, 1912 in Ruthven, Iowa, and died there on March 21, 1970, at the age of fifty-seven. He married Thelma Mary Smith on May 10, 1936. Their son, Clarence Monroe Monk (a.k.a. “Butch”) was born June 24, 1939, and died on May 5, 1974,  apparently of a hit and run accident. He was married and had five children at the time. Henry also had two daughters of whom I am aware, but it appears that they are still living, so I am not mentioning their names here. In the 1940 U.S. Census, Henry Monk is listed as a “farm” “operator”, which would be consistent with the appellation “tenant farmer” of the photo.

Henry Monk and two of his stepchildren
on their farm near Ruthven, Iowa
December 1936
Photographer Russell Lee
Accessed via the Library of Congress website
What really confuses me is the next photo, from the same website, taken at the same time by the same photographer, entitled Henry Monk and two of his stepchildren on their farm near Ruthven, Iowa (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997021278/PP/). Both pictures are lovely, and really evoke the era, the people, and the place, but who are these kids? I can’t find any mention of Henry’s wife Thelma Mary having been married before, and the title seems to indicate that there were even more children! I suppose it is possible that the photographer had his information mixed up. If anyone out there has any further information about the people in the photos, or any ideas about who the children are, please let me know. If the children are living, you don’t have to give names in your comments, and if you choose to email me, and I blog about what you wrote later, I will not reveal the names of the living or any other information you do not wish me to reveal.

(As a side note, I am planning to write a blogpost on Henry’s mother, Ruth Henrietta Beams Monk, in future. I am hoping to find a good picture of her which comes along with permission to utilize it. I have found one on the internet, but have as yet been unable to secure the necessary permission to reproduce it. If you can help me with this, I would much appreciate it).

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