Girl With Papier Mache Urn: Lydia J. A. Bade Rohlfing

Cabinet card portrait of Lydia Bade Rohlfing, found by Kathy Wieland of FamilyWe Search.com.

This portrait of an awkward teenage girl teetering on the edge of womanhood was identified as “Lydia Bade (Mrs. Arnold Rohlfing).”

Born 20 March 1880 in Franklin County, Missouri to German immigrant farmer William F. Bade and Johanna Elizabeth Peters Bade, Lydia married Franklin County farmer Arnold P. Rohlfing about 1900. The Rohlfings had three children: Florence, Oliver L., and Irwin W. Rohlfing.

The awkwardness of adolescence is magnified by the incongruous setting: Tall, skinny Lydia, in a black  dress stretched tight over her thin  chest, stands by a papier mache faux urn that is just beginning to tip from the pressure of her hand.

Her dress’s fashionable standing-puff sleeves place the photo ca. early 1890s. Contemporary fashion advice for young ladies advised that “frocks . . . should increase in length with advancing years until at age twelve they should reach the ankle” (Ladies Home Journal, May 1891, quoted in Severa, Dressed for the Photographer (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995). Her hair is done in up-to-date fashion, pulled back tightly into a knot, with a curled fringe of bangs.

The white card mount with blind-embossed decorative edges and a more subdued advertising design also locates this cabinet card photograph in the 1890s.

Lydia Bade Rohlfing died “six miles south of Berger,” in rural Boeuf Township, Franklin County, on 19 Nov 1943. She and her husband are buried in Senate Grove Cemetery, Berger.

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