I had a little bit of an advantage with this photograph. It's clearly labelled, "Amy Creaser" and although it was taken in Boston at the Towne Studio, I know that Amy lived in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Once again, it's a case of provenance. It was discovered with a collection of portraits from Lawrence, Mass and Nova Scotia that once belonged to Mary Harrison of Maccan, Nova Scotia. Mary lived in Lawrence during the 1880s. In addition to Amy's carte de visite portrait, there were also photographs of George, Annie, and Joe Creaser, taken in Lawrence.
So, who was Amy? Well, I started by searching around Lawrence. In the Massachusetts Town Vitals Collection, 1620-1988 I found a marriage record for Amy E. Creaser, born about 1861, and Edward S. Riley, who married on the 19th of July 1890 in Lawrence, Mass. Amy's parents are listed as Elizabeth and John Creaser.
In the 1900 census, I found John and Elizabeth Creaser, with children Annie, born 1867, England; and Mary E., born 1874, England. It appears John and Elizabeth Creaser immigrated to the US in 1881. I also found Amy and her husband in Lawrence. At the time they had five children: Cora, Charles, Edward, Edith and Marion.
I thought I'd see if I could find Amy and her parents in the 1881 England Census. Amy and her sisters Edith Jane (b. 1870, London Lower Norwood, London, Middlesex, England) and Mary Ethel (b. 1874,Oldham, Lancashire, England) are living with their grandparents Thomas and Mary Cole of Nafferton, Yorkshire. The parents are not there. Amy and her eleven-year-old sister, Edith are working as factory hands. It is interesting to note that the Smith grandchildren of Thomas and Mary Cole are also living there, and again, no parents.
On April 25 1881, Amy, her mother, and siblings arrived in New York aboard the ship, Nederland. They travelled in steerage. Note the appearance of Joseph, age 2.
I searched for her father next. I found a John Creaser who arrived about year earlier, on the 19th of April, 1880 at the port of Philadelphia aboard the Indiana. George W. Creaser, a young man of 15, accompanied him. It's unclear if George is a son or some other relative of John's. Of course, without more research I can't say for certain if John and George even belong to Amy's family. I know that in Yorkshire, there are a number of Creaser families with similar given names.
This photo probably dates to the early-to-mid 1880s.
UPDATE JULY 24, 2012: This photograph of Amy, along with three other Creaser images, have been reunited with a descendant who wrote, "I just stumbled unto your 4/12/12 post on Amy E. Creaser while googling a family relative and was just amazed at the photo and information which you provided. I have been spending months getting this side of my family recorded. All your information agrees which what I have been able to piece together --cudos. The 2 year old Joseph who immigrated with his mother and sisters in 1881 was my paternal grandfather. The George who arrived in Philadelphia in 1880 was a son to John and the older brother to Joseph." So glad these photographs are "going home."