Dempsey Powell? Photo Identification

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Surname/tag: Powell
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Dempsey Powell

I have had this photo marked Dempsey Powell for a very long time, and I have seen it popping up on Ancestry associated with a variety of different Dempsey Powells - even some who would not have been alive when this type of photography was available. I would like to solve the mystery.

Here are my observations. I welcome yours!

  • Although there is only one name on this photo, and the subjects are wearing the same outfit, these are not both pictures of the same young man.
  • The photo on the right is in a paper folder/frame. The one on the left is just laying on top
  • There is a hole from a thumbtack in the top middle at the fold line. It appears the two photos were hung up together.
  • The handwriting that says Dempsey Powell is on the folder/frame. Although it is closer to the photo on the left, the fact that it is on the folder MIGHT indicate that it is actually referring to the photo on the right.
  • However...the writing appears to have been added while the photos were joined...perhaps by someone who was trying to indicate that the boy on the left is Dempsey Powell.
  • These two young men may have been friends and teammates in whatever sport their attire suggests (something involving horses? polo, perhaps?)
  • The photos were probably taken in the 1910s or 1920s. Guessing that the subjects appear to be about 15 years old, that means they would have been born about 1890-1900(ish).

Of all the Dempsey Powells in my tree, this leaves me with only two choices, and they are at opposite ends of the possible birth year spectrum:

1. Dempsey Maurice Powell (2 Aug 1909 - 14 Oct 1945) Son of Roswell E. Powell and Anna of California.

  • His draft card says he was 5'11", 165# (when he was 31yo), blond hair, and brown eyes. Neither of these boys has blond hair.

2. Dempsey B Powell (30 Nov 1879 - 24 Apr 1955) Son of William Dempsey Powell and Julia Allen of Arizona.

  • His draft card says he has red hair and blue eyes. His adult photo clearly agrees with that and does not appear to be a good match for either of the young men here.
  • Note the light eyebrows, then see Wm D below.
Dempsey B. Powell

I have one more Powell photo. This one is allegedly William Dempsey Powell, father of Dempsey B. Powell.

William Dempsey Powell

  • I am concerned that someone saw "Powell" at the bottom and assumed it was a Powell. But that is more likely the name of the photo studio imprinted on the folder. I don't think it was common to put the subject's last name on the folder, but maybe I am wrong about that.
  • He has blue eyes and possibly red hair. Very light eyebrows.
  • His hairline and slight curl around the edges is similar to Dempsey B. I see a resemblance, but maybe I am just making it up.
  • The photo places Wm D at an earlier time period than Dempsey B, so it could be his father.
  • Wm D has ears of a very distinctive shape. He is not just an older version of any of the other subjects.

I'd love to hear what others have to say....are there any other Dempsey Powells that could be a match? Or if luck is with us, perhaps someone knows for certain who's who?

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