Answer to Quiz #42 - December 30, 2005
1. What is the occupation of the older man?
2. Give at least three items appearing in the photo that relate to his trade.
Submitted by Christine M. Gregg.
1. Blacksmith, probably for a logging camp, possibly in Michigan
2. Many items including:
blacksmith apron
wagon wheels
chimneys on shack that could be exhausts for a forge
horseshoes hung on front of shack
trough for water in foreground to quench hot metal
We received many thoughtful answers from our readers in response to this quiz. There
was much debate whether the man was a blacksmith or a wheelwright. In the end, the
balance of evidence seems to have tipped in favor of blacksmith. Further responses and
links came in from Dale Niesen,
quizmaster extraordinaire, to indicate that the
blacksmith shop was in a logging camp in Michigan, and that the people in the picture
were of Scandinavian extraction. This is a fairly accurate match to the background of
some of the family members of Christine's mother-in-law who owned the picture.

Read below for links supplied by Dale to pictures of various objects that are similar to
those in the photo, followed by emails from Christine on her family history.
A note from Christine Gregg, the contributor of the photo:

Dear Colleen,

This has been an interesting and instructive process and I am very grateful for all the
generous help I have received.

Note from Dale Niesen who
discovered this picture:

In the image...I just noticed on the
wall behind the forge (small pipe for
smoke stack) there are dozens of
horseshoes. Note the leather aprons in
this image, the wagon wheels and rim
in the background as well as the
horseshoes on the floor in the
Blacksmith Shop
Enderby, British Columbia, Canada
c. 1895
Compare Items in Quiz Photo with Those in This Picture of a Blacksmith Shop
Exhaust Pipes on Roof
Blacksmith Aprons
Other Items of Interest
Trough for Water in Foreground
Possible Anvil to
Right of
against Shack
For further reading on blacksmiths, see:
Possible Connection to the Logging Industry

I have done some more thinking on this image.  What I believe we have is a blacksmith
shop for a lumber camp.  The building to the right may even be a saw mill.  Here are
some of the clues I have or believe I have found in the image besides what I have
already noted.  

To the rear of the buildings there appears to be a wooded area devoid of leaves
suggesting a late fall, mild winter or early spring day.  The heavy wood frame seen to
the right of our main character looks to be the frame of a logging sled in disrepair the
front runner is staked on top of the main body and the tongue is the pole standing at
the corner of the building.  The rough cut wood planks and cedar (?) shack shingles on
the front of the shop also lend to a logging industry connection.  

The adult woman is wearing a form of head dress that I have seen in many images of
Scandinavian immigrants in antiques shops in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  If this
is indeed what we have it would lead me to place the location of the image in either
northern Michigan especially the Upper Peninsula where many Scandinavians
immigrated to for work in the logging and mining industry.  The other two possibilities
would be Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin where too many Scandinavians settled for
the same reasons as listed for Michigan.  The saw also lends to the lumbering days
where such large saws were used to fall the mighty white pines of Michigan, Minnesota
and Wisconsin, etc.  I have added some links below to aid in my theory.


Logging Sleds
Possible Stack
of Sled Runners
Two Sketches of How Runners Might Be Stacked
Colleen's (Left) and Dale's (Right)
Toy Logging Sled
Pioneer Shacks
From the website of the Renville Co. (MN) website at

LERUD CABIN - This log cabin was built in Section 26 of Sacred Heart Township in
the fall of 1869 by Embret and Mary Lerud. It was moved to the museum site in 1953,
and restored. It is typical of how the early Scandinavian pioneers constructed their
Pioneer Handcarts
From the website The Mormon Pioneer Trail at

The Handcarts: 1856 to 1860, Scandinavian Pioneers pulled their handcarts 1,300 miles
across the plains to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.
A word of genealogical caution from John Chulick:

I read Dale's emails.  I'm not convinced its a logging camp in Michigan.  I will grant
that its a northerly latitude.  Maybe its mid-winter to late winter based on the condition
of the ground and trees (leaves are down, no weeds - like maybe the snow knocked the
weeds down and the snow melted - I don't think this guy mows his lawn!  Also notice
how some of the boards on the side of the shed stick out - the man has a saw but
didn't cut the boards. Overall, its not a very neat place - not a lot of pride in
neatness.   It may indicate a more temporary situation.  A logging camp?  I don't see
that the clothes that the old lady is wearing is any different than my ancestors in central
Europe.  For that matter, the photo could have been taken in Europe.  

I did some checking on wheelwrights.  They used chunky wooden frameworks
reminiscent of the objects in the right background.  The jury is still out.  Is there any
way to get a better scan of the photo?

Yes, Christine has promised to get us a better scan on her next trip to Florida to visit
her in-laws who have the original hard copy of the picture.
What Christina Has Written in about Her Family
Hi Colleen,

I have found a Christopher Rulason who was listed as a
blacksmith in the 1880 and
1900 censuses of
Arenac County, MI where my mother-in-law was born in 1908.
Christopher would have been
a great uncle to my mother-in-law so it is reasonable that
she might have a picture of him. Christopher never had children of his own BUT in
Feb 1896 he married a woman who was much older. According to the 1900 census she
did have several children (although I have not been able to find them yet).

Christopher was born in Allegheny County NY in October of 1848 and his wife was
born in Feb 1829 in Canada of Irish parents. I found a woman of the same name and
the right age living near where Christopher lived in the 1880 census. IF she is the old
woman in the picture the other two younger people could be her children. But, as I
said, I cannot locate them in the census. This might be because they were from yet
another marriage because she was already 50 in the 1880 census. This woman lived
until 1913 which gives a time period they would have been together as a couple...

Note: According to Dale, Arenac Co., Michigan was prime logging territory.
Dear Colleen,

I agree that Dale has provided an important piece to this puzzle and I'd like to thank
him directly for his very useful analysis and for all the time he has spent.

I have bookmarked several of the sites he gave and am exploring this whole topic in
greater depth. Arena was indeed prime logging territory. At least one of the Rulason
nephews worked for a time in the logging camps but in general the family were farmers
or laborers -- except for this one blacksmith. Rulason is very probably originally
Scandinavian but the family has been in this country for a couple hundred years. His
elderly wife (if it is indeed Christopher Rulason) was Canadian born of Irish parents. I
am looking though my pictures of Irish immigrants to see what types of clothing they
wore and continuing to look for her children to see if any of them fit the people in the

This has been an interesting and instructive process and I am very grateful for all the
generous help I have received.

Occasion for the Picture
Tonight we had dinner with a buddy who has an interest in old pictures. I took along
my photo and described all the things you had seen. She told me that some areas of the
country had intinerant travelling photographers who set up in different areas and that
they also travelled the side roads taking pictures of the locals. This area of Michigan is
near several logging camps. Apparently there were several photographers who travelled
to these camps to photograph the lumberjacks and other interesting folks. I am going to
explore this possibility a bit further. I think this is a reasonable hypothesis to explain the
circumstances of the picture -- the photographer just happened to be coming down the
road and they hired him to take their picture.

Thanks much,
Note: Here is a link to a picture taken by such an itinerant photographer in Chilliwack,
British Columbia, Canada c. 1890 - 1900. Note that the aspect ratio (the ratio fo the
length to the width of the picture) matches that of our quiz photo.
Note also: The blacksmith has tools in his hand and was apparently interrupted from his
work by the photographer. This supports the theory was taken on the spur of the
moment by an itinerant photographer.
The Last Word
The whole state of Michigan was a logging area at one time!  I'm from Muskegon
which was "The Lumber Queen" and now live in Grand Rapids "The Furniture City".  
Guess how it got THAT name?  

Marilyn Hamill-Stewart
Congratulations to our winners!

Lincoln Mulkey                Marilyn Hamill-Stewart
Don Schulteis                Pat Snyder
Rick Mackinney                Dale Niesen
Richard Cleaveland       Edee Scott
Gwen Upton                Anthony Smart
Mike Pfister                July Peterson
Ardie Grimes                Jon Fox
Carol Wilson                Bobbie Sims
Royal Eva                Ellis Nienhaus
Stan Read        Grace Hertz      John Chulick

If your name has been omitted from our list of winners, please let me know. It was unintentional.    
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Quiz #42 Results