|Horst Siblings in Cincinnati, Ohio ca. 1892|
(clockwise from left) Omer (seated), Charles, Ed, Pearl
These are the children of Charles Frederick Horst (1856-1912) and Odalie Felice Fortier (1857-1920), the oldest four of their five children. Charles, born in Mobile, Alabama, and Odalie, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, were married on January 10, 1879 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Mobile. They are my great-great-grandparents.
Oldest son Charles Frederick was born November 15, 1880 in Mobile. Charles is my great-great-grandfather. Their next child, Edward Martin, was born on May 5, 1882. By 1884 Charles, Odalie and their two young sons had moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, reportedly to help Charles' health. They lived for a time with the family of his father's sister Elizabeth Horst Ginter (1827-1877). Charles continued working as a bartender in Cincinnati, a job he had learned from his father Martin Horst (1830-1878) and practiced in the family's saloon in Mobile.
On November 19, 1884, daughter Pearl Alphonsine was born in their new home in Cincinnati. Pearl is my great-grandmother [she married Harry Clinton Flemming (1878-1955)]. On January 11, 1885 Pearl was baptized at St. Peter in Chains Catholic Church. On May 5, 1887, Omer Leo , the couple's fourth child was born. This picture appears to have been taken of the four siblings about 1892, while still living in Ohio. It wasn't long after this was taken that the family of six moved one last time to Birmingham, Alabama - a young city, founded in 1871. Soon Charles' younger brother Edward (1858-1901) had also moved from Mobile to Birmingham and together they bought and ran a saloon of their own, the Palace Royale. It was here that the last child was born. Odalie Felice, called Dolly, was born on January 20, 1896.
The children in the photograph all look so unhappy here, like their mother must have just scolded them. A little online research by me in writing this post (including an article in Mental Floss http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/6822) gives a couple of reasons for this. The "commonly held" belief is that in early photography it took so long for an image to be exposed and it holding a smile was too hard to do. This theory is debunked - by the mid-1840's long exposures were no longer necessary so this wouldn't explain it. The most likely reason given is that people weren't used to having their pictures taken and, along with the expense, having one's picture taken was a serious event.
Until photography existed pictures were painted, and portraits were created to be handed down through generations. The rich, the famous, important leaders and brilliant minds all had their portraits done and in none of them did the subjects smile. It would not have been a natural pose to sit smiling in such a posed shot. How serious would their portraits be taken if they had silly, goofy grins on them? This kind of stoic facial expression was what people of the times had grown up seeing; being happy all the time was not held in the highest of priorities as it is today. Smiling in photographs seemed to happen only after photography became more used by the mainstream public, after the mid-1910's.