A Quiet Spring Wedding in April

One of our favorite types of materials in our collections are photographs, particularly portraiture. We have a number of collections that feature these types of photographs. One such collection is the Free Studio of Photography Collection which contains photographs taken by the Hostetler and Free Studios.

The portrait we would like to highlight is labeled “Miss Elna Johnson”. It was taken by J.B. Hostetler around 1918. This young lady is wearing a light colored dress with a dark fabric accenting her waist and the bottom part of her skirt. The dress also is embellished with dark colored embroidered details on the top, bottom, and the cuff. She looks stylish with the additions of a dark hat, pearls, and a tasseled purse.

As part of the digitization project, the staff of the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center researched each image with assistance of the handwritten notes by the photography studio. In some cases, we are unable to find information on the individual(s) in the images because they were visiting from outside the area, they were in the Quad-Cities for a brief time, or the name on the envelope didn’t provide us enough information to make a connection with the people in the photos.

Happily, we were able to learn more about “Miss Elna” and her life. Based on information in the Iowa Births and Christenings Index, Elna Pauline Johnson was born October 28, 1897 in Sheridan Township, Scott County, IA to William J. and Matilda (Hofmeister) Johnson. The record was amended in 1943, so it is difficult to read the handwritten changes. She grew up in northern Scott County around Eldridge.

On December 17, 1901, a letter to Santa was printed in The Daily Times for Elna Johnson sharing her Christmas wishes.

According the Federal Censuses, Elna and her family moved from Sheridan Township to Davenport around 1910. It lists William as a carpenter for all three census, and in the 1920 Census, it states his employer as the “Arsenal.”

An interesting article was found published on October 25, 1913. It states that Elna had a farewell party thrown for her by Edna Pahl because her family was going to move to Arkansas. But conversely, in an article published on October 19, 1913, the Bodfer’s Club had a farewell for Elna Johnson who was going to be leaving soon on an extended trip with her parents through the southwest. From the research we have done, we believe they never moved to Arkansas and there may have been some confusion amongst her friends about her long trip.

Elna attended Davenport’s public’s schools as well as far off schools on the East coast. She graduated from Taylor School in 1912. She received her high school degree from Davenport High School in 1918. Based on information published in The Daily Times on September 24, 1918, Miss Elna Johnson she continued her education by attending the Mt. Ida School Seminary for Girls in Boston, Massachusetts from the fall of 1918- early summer of 1919. The school is a young ladies’ finishing school. She graduated in June 1919. She also received a visit from her roommate at Mt. Ida who was from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

After her graduation Mt. Ida Seminary, she moved back to Davenport to live with her parents. She also began to actively participate in social events and organizations like she used to before she left for school. Over the years, she was a member of the following: Delta Kappa Epsilion, Bodfer’s Club (Bodfer’s school), Lend-A-Hand Club, St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church’s Gleaner’s (Kleaner’s) society.

In between Elna graduating from high school and going of to Boston, she was courted by a young Mr. Walter E. Drummond of Davenport. The announced their engagement in July 1918.

“Johnson-Drummond Engagement Announced.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jul. 20,1918, page 6.

101 years ago Elna Pauline Johnson married Walter Ewart Drummond on April 12, 1923 in Davenport. They had a quite wedding with 25 attendees at St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church now known as St. John’s United Methodist Church.

Walter and Elna had one child, Kent Gorham Drummond. He was born on August 31, 1925. They lived in Davenport according to the United States Federal Census. They did appear to move for Walter’s job at certain points of their lives together.

Walter passed away on June 17, 1943 in Galesburg at the aged of 46. We could find no record of Elna remarrying. Based on information in her obituary published in the Times-Democrat on December 29, 1967, Mrs. Walter Drummond died at the home of her son in Findlay, Ohio. Both Elna and Walter are buried at Pine Hill Cemetery.


“Miss Brunquell Gives Graduation Party.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jan. 27, 1912, page 6.



(posted by Kathryn)

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