In 1903, on a boat sailing from Denmark, two year old Alma McKinney’s life was in danger. She was exhibiting symptoms from an illness that she had developed while on board. Her entire body was swelling and it gave rise to a protest from passengers debating whether or not she should stay aboard. Both men and women were shouting at the tops of their lungs to throw this sick little girl over the side before she threatened anyone else’s lives with a potentially deadly and contagious ailment…

Despite the nightmare my great grandmother went through, she arrived safely in America.

It is a little unsettling and yet amazing to think of all the events that had to unfold to get us to where we are today. This winter, we’ve given ourselves a bit of a “break”. During this, I’ve been gaining quite a lot of perspective on what is truly important in our lives. Photography is a wonderful outlet but sometimes I think we get incredibly caught up in things that, frankly just don’t matter.

During this slow down, while we house hunted and brought our newest daughter into the world, I wanted to take some opportunities to photograph people we love.  My grandmother, Elsie, is 89 this year. Had the passengers on the boat ride over from Denmark had their way, Elsie and her 11 children and countless grand and great grandchildren would not be here today.

Elsie married at 16 to my grandfather Bert Manning. He passed away just a little over 5 years ago and is missed dearly.

Sinar F2 4×5, Rollei Ortho 25.

Polly BrandtFebruary 19, 2012 - 6:46 pm

Wow, Chris! That is so neat! Really loved the writeup you did along with the pictures. I just wasn’t expecting that. You did a terrific job and am very proud of you. My Mom will just love seeing this. What a great job you did! Take care and tell Sarah and give the kids a hug and kiss from aunt Polly.
Love you,

Angel Davis (mom)February 19, 2012 - 7:06 pm

Thank you so much, Chris. You did a wonderful job on these pictures and the write up is very good as well. I have 2 wonderful son’s and feel so blessed. You are very talented, Chris. God is doing amazing things in you that only He can do. Like your dad tells me often, our kids turned out great inspite of us. We were so young when we had you and didn’t have a clue what we were doing, but God is so good. We are so proud of you and Matt. May the Lord continue to bless you and your beautiful family that we love so much!!

Peg HermanFebruary 19, 2012 - 7:27 pm

Wonderful Chris, just wonderful! You are very talented, it made me want to read more. What a great write up, and love the pictures of mom, she has had a great life, and she was such a beautiful young lady. So nice that you are showing these sides of our mom, your grandmother. It looks like she enjoyed being photographed by you, she of course loves any reason to spend time with family. Something us kids have been trying to do is finding out more about her life and the ancestry of her family coming over from Denmark. Thank you for doing this Chris, it means so much to our family. Much love to you and your family, and special hugs to the sweet little ones.
Aunt Peg

Tina ReedFebruary 20, 2012 - 3:11 pm

Hi Chris,
Not sure if you remember me….I’m your mom’s neice….Thank you so much for writing this about Grandma….She is such a great lady! We all love her so much! She means the world to us! She deserves a lifetime of happiness!!!! And more!!! I remember staying all night with Polly and Angel when we were kids….It was awesome, I always looked forward to spending the night, not just to play with Polly and Angel, but because I loved Granpa and Grandma Manning so much…..I remember all the ice cream treats we would get! And all the pop cans we would take to the store, to buy gum and candy..Grandpa and Grandma have had a huge impact on my life..
Thanks Chris for writing this.

Amanda George (your cuz)February 21, 2012 - 4:31 pm

Chris- You always know the right things to say–you word things so beautifully. I wish I had both of your talents, you have an art for writing and most of all, an eye for photography. I absolutely LOVED reading what you wrote, and was sad when I got to the end b/c I wanted more. 🙂 You describe everything so perfectly, I wish I could write like you. The pictures are AMAZING–I mean, there are not enough words to describe how you capture people. She looks so happy in the pictures. Thanks for capturing grandma’s glow. I love reading about our history and I’ve wanted to write about it so I have it documented and I won’t forget (but I’m terrible w/ words), so I will save this forever. You are such a special person and it was very sweet of you to do this. Thanks again for doing this!!!! Love you! xo

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