By Errol Morris
Four men on their way to Gettysburg were forced to stop at Schriver’s Tavern when their wagon broke down. They heard the tale of the fallen soldier and saw the photograph of the children. One of them, Dr. J. Francis Bourns, a Philadelphia physician on his way to tend to the wounded from the battlefield, was intrigued. He convinced Schriver to give him the photograph so that he might attempt to locate the dead man’s family. Perhaps he was touched by the poignancy of the photograph — three children, all under the age of ten, now without a father. As a life-long bachelor he might have yearned for a wife or family of his own. On the other hand, perhaps he saw it as an opportunity for financial gain.
The description asks us to think about the details, to imagine them, to pick from among many other details the relevant ones, the ones that can be used to unravel the mystery. The use of “the same material” implies a mother’s hand, or at the very least, a bolt of cloth that was purchased and then used to make clothing for both children. It is evidence — a clue. We are looking for the unseen wife — “. . . we shall find her without a name” — the woman who made the garments out of whole cloth.
article and photo courtesy of: http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/