Florida collector intrigued by 1916 photo from Portland

by: COURTESY OF ROBERT SHORT - Military memorabilla collector Robert Short wants to know if anyone recognizes this Portland photo of an unnamed World War I soldier. Short says it looks just like his great nephew.As a collector of military memorabilia, Robert Short is used to seeing photos of soldiers in uniforms. But when the 72-year-old Florida man opened a small box of photos he purchased from an online auction house a few years ago, he was stunned by one of a World War I-era soldier — who looked exactly like his great nephew, who shares his name.

“The resemblance is amazing. It was just like I was looking at him,” says Short.

Flipping the photo over, Short found only a few clues to the identify of the solider. The initials K.A. and the date 1916. Flipping it back over, he noticed an imprint of the name of the apparent photographer, Van Dyck Studios in Portland, Oregon.

A century ago, Van Dyck Studios occupied a downtown Portland storefront on Southwest Washington Street. Photographer Maude M. Hepburn was the studio manager for a couple of years, and then had her own photography shop in the same location.

Today, there is no Van Dyck Studios in downtown Portland. So, after thinking about it for awhile, Short contacted the Portland Tribune for help. He scanned the photo and emailed it the paper in the hopes that someone would recognize the young soldier.

“I would like to know who K.A. is, if indeed those are his initials,” Short says. “Wouldn’t it be a hoot if he was some relation to me and my nephew?”

If the soldier was from Portland, he could have served in the 41st Division, which was activated in 1917 and composed of National Guard units in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Washington. It trained at Camp Green in North Carolina. Some of its troops were aboard the SS Tuscania when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk off the coast of Northern Ireland. Others were assigned to different units after reaching France and saw action at the battles of Château-Thierry, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.

Short, a retired mechanic, says he was in the military for three years about 50 years ago. He first became interested in military memorabilia while growing up on a military base.

“Vets who came back from Europe started giving me Nazi souvenirs. When I got older, I actively started collecting them. Now I buy and sell World War II photos, among other things,” says Short.

Short has never tried to identify anyone in a photo before and admits it’s unlikely he’s related to the soldier. Still, the resemblance to his great nephew intrigues him.

“I do not believe in reincarnation, so I am not thinking that, either. I am a realist, not a dunderhead,” says Short.

Anyone with information about the soldier’s identity can email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

John Klatt of Old Oregon in West Linn helped with research about Van Dyck Studios.

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