• Kristin Wenger

Four Generation Photos (#52Ancestors week 31: Oldest)


I love photographs that capture multiple generations of a family together. We haven't accomplished the rare feat of five generations, but my kids have been blessed to know most of their great grandparents. In fact, I managed to convince my kids to pose with both living sets of their great grandparents this past Christmas.

Four generations of Wengers, Christmas 2017


Four generations in the Hornberger family, Christmas 2017


These pictures made me wonder: what is the oldest four generation photograph I have digitized and can share with extended family?


At first, I thought it was this one where my grandma Doris (pictured above as Great Grandma Hornberger) is the baby in the photograph.

4 generations, 24 January 1935

Great grandmother: Emma K. (Eitnier) Kramer (1857-1938)

Grandfather: Harry Eitnier Kramer (1884-1955)

Mother: Grace (Kramer) Millhouse (1912-1995)

Baby: Doris Jean Millhouse (born July 1934)



But, it turns out I can take this same family back another generation, thanks to a photograph that my Grandma Doris had inherited.

4 generations, early 1920s

Great grandfather: Reuben B. Eitnier (1835-1927)

Grandmother: Emma K. (Eitnier) Kramer (1857-1938)

Father: Harry Eitnier Kramer (1884-1955)

Child: Grace Faus Kramer (1912-1995)


There are so many details to appreciate in this photograph:

  • The house with its clothesline on the porch and deep-set front door in a thick stone wall

  • Reuben, approaching 90 years old, with his patched pants, white beard, and cane

  • Emma's conservative dress and covering

  • Harry's dirty pants from his work on the farm and his distinctively parted hair (exactly the same in the 1935 picture!)

  • Grace's large hair bows, tall lace-up boots, and failure to look at the camera. I bet it was a sunny day. She reminds me so much of one of my children who is sensitive to bright light and struggles with outdoor photos.

But most of all, I appreciate whoever it was who took the initiative to take this four generation photograph that day nearly 100 years ago. Thank you for getting these four family members to stand on the porch together (even in generational order from left to right). Thank you for saving this image and passing it down. I wonder if you ever imagined how precious it would be for Grace's great granddaughter to see her as a little girl. And now, because you captured that moment in time, my kids get to see the face of their 5x great grandfather! Amazing.


Your kids might complain and I don't know of any middle-aged women who enjoy seeing themselves in photographs, but take those family generation pictures. Someday, they will be priceless treasures!

© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC