Photos of May’s growing-up years, 1886 – 1899

Three kittens in the window, Canyon City, ca. 1899

Here are some photographs that I wasn’t able to include in the book, from May’s childhood and teenage years.

Olive Perryman Ripley with her three eldest daughters, ca. 1886.  May was about seven, baby Maggie was born in 1886), and Nora was about two.  The family was living in Poweshiek County, Iowa at this time.

Olive Perryman Ripley with May (abt. 7), baby Maggie (born 1886) and Nora (abt. 2). Ca. 1886.

May Martha Ripley on her 19th birthday (24 Sept. 1898) in Canyon City, John Day, Oregon.  She inscribed the photo to her mother, Olive Ripley, and on the bottom of the frame wrote “Guess Who”.  Family lore is that May was in love with a Catholic boy in John Day at this time.

May Martha Ripley on her 19th birthday, 24 Sept. 1898. John Day, Oregon.

Here is a photo of the Ripley family in John Day, Oregon (Canyon City).  It must be ca. 1899.  Olive Ripley, May’s mother is on the far left.  Her father, Jehu, is the man with the beard.  May is behind the girl wearing a tartan dress.  This was only a short time before her parents  sent her off to Northern California to be married to a man named John Diddy.  Although it is not a very happy photograph, I love the three kittens pawing at the closed window (close-up below the main photo).

Ripleys in Canyon City, John Day, Oregon, ca. 1899. Back row from left to right: Olive Perryman Ripley, Jehu Beal Ripley, man in hat unidentified. Middle row, from left: Ray Asbury Ripley (abt. 10), May Martha Ripley (abt. 19), unidentified woman; the girl in the tartan dress is unidentified; children in the front row are unidentified. The others in this photo may be members of the family of May's uncle, John Henry Ripley.

The three kittens in the window:

Three kittens in the window, Canyon City, Oregon, ca. 1899



  1. Wow, amazing that some of these are from John Day! I always forget that it used to be quite the boom-town; I’m impressed at how in-style May’s 1898 dress was. She’s really rocking that odd turn-of-the-century S-shaped corset look, and I love the lapped & bow-tied waistband. LOVE it when the original users of old photographs have written notes on the margins/backs; a whole story is encapsulated right there, isn’t it?

  2. Hi Christine, I love your site here, and especially the Ripley pics. I can’t wait to get your book. My great grandfather was John Henry Ripley, and I am pretty sure that is him in the middle of the picture in front of the house. I am also even more certain that the ‘unidentified lady’ to the far right is Fannie May Ripley, youngest sister of Jehu and John Henry. She never married and traveled visiting family a bit, as I have pictures of her visiting John Henrys family later, and of her in Nebraska (a few years before your pic was taken). Her obit also stated she first went to Nebraska to visit her brother John Henry and then settled there. John Henry also moved west as I guess you may know from your comment. He and his family spent many years in the John Day Oregon area. I’d love to communicate more with you. I have been comparing pics to work out who the other children are, and I think I have a pretty good idea.

    • Dear Sue, how exciting to hear from you! I know about Fannie May, and John Henry; I was given a copy of Fannie May’s obituary, which I refer to in the book. I’d be very keen to know if you can identify the people in this photo. My granny just told me it was taken in Canyon City, Oregon. Do email me, my address is

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