"Mrs. Ocey Snead, in bed, baby in arms," December 1907 or January 1908. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.
Ocey, who was found dead in an East Orange, New Jersey, bathtub in November 1909, drugged and emaciated, was at the center of scandalous murder case involving her mentally unbalanced mother and a spinster aunt who starved herself to death while awaiting trial. Along with a third sister they were thought to have conspired to drug and starve Ocey to collect $32,000 in insurance money. Ocey had two children, one of whom died in infancy. (Coverage in the New York Times noted the discovery of small bones in the furnace at a building where Ocey lived -- a Brooklyn tenement dubbed "house of mystery" and "baby farm" by the neighbors.) One part of the mystery is how two photographs of Ocey, very much alive, ended up in Bain News Service collection of glass negatives at the Library of Congress. (The other photo
is dated 12-21-07). Are they are family photos obtained in the course of covering the trial of the sisters? Or is there some reason GGB would have photographed Ocey well before she died? (Cue organ music.) | Click image for Comments.