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Ensconced: 1925

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Miss Katherine Kellond." A sofa-size portrait. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Miss Katherine Kellond." A sofa-size portrait. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Great-Aunt Katharine Kellond

The young lady in the photograph is Katharine Kellond, my grandmother's oldest sibling/sister. Given the year the photo was taken, I presume this would have been her coming-out gown portrait. She was a few years older than my grandmother, making the year the appropriate date for her debutante ball.

My great-grandparents were stationed in the DC area during this time before being stationed in the Panama Canal Zone. My grandmother, Harriet Kellond (Richards) was the second daughter, and was married in the Panama on Jan 1st, 1930. The two younger sisters are Jane and Ruthie and they were quite a bit younger in age. The only son, Thomas, died as a small boy from meningitis.

My great-grandmother, Katharine Selfridge Kellond, was the sister of Lt. Thomas Selfridge, who was the first person to die in a working airplane. This occured at Fort Myer when the Wright brothers brought their invention to show off to the Army in hopes of selling them. Uncle Thom was a young officer and was selected to go up with one of the Wright brothers. The plane crashed, breaking Tom's neck and, I believe, the Wright brother's arm. There is film of the crash that you can see at the Air and Space Museum.

I would have to confirm with my mother any further details regarding Aunt Katharine's marriages and children. I do know you have her name spelled correctly as it is also my name. Love the picture. Thanks,

Katharine Kellon Roth

Army Debutante

Some rummaging around online suggests that this is Miss Katherine Henley Kellond, born in 1905, the second of five children (four girls and one boy) born to Lt. Col. Frederick George Kellond (b. 1878), an officer of the US Army General Staff, and Katherine Henley Selfridge (b. 1884). In 1919, her mother was the official sponsor at the launching in San Francisco of the Clemson-class destroyer USS Selfridge, named for Mrs. Kellond's grandfather, Rear Admiral Thomas O. Selfridge (1804-1902). Mrs. Kellond's father, Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr. (1836-1924) was also a Rear Admiral. Miss Kellond is also listed in the scant genealogical records I found as the mother of two daughters with the surname Taylor. Perhaps another Shorpyite with better access to the Washington newspaper archives will be able to zero in on Miss Kellond and the event for which she modeled this ball gown.

The Haves and Have-Nots

Lest we believe that everyone lived such a gracious and elegant lifestyle in 1925, let us remember that this was apparently an upper crust young lady. My own mom was 15 at that time, daughter of a Pa. coal-miner, who had to leave home at 13 to work full time as a kitchen helper and waitress in her uncle's "free lunch" and beer bar in Brooklyn to help support her younger siblings and send them most of her pay every week. When she passed away in 1996, we found she had still kept in her closet her two vintage waitresses uniforms and the very first new coat she ever bought with her own earnings. Somebody at the Goodwill Thrift Store may have them now not knowing they represented her memories of the 1920's as she lived them.

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