The Sisters pictured were the administrative leadership at the Milwaukee Motherhouse. Sister Seraphica was the directress of St. Mary’s Institute (1861-1886); Sister Theophila was the candidate mistress (1855-1877), Sister Seraphina was Mother Caroline’s assistant (1869-1884) and Sister Emmanuela was the novice director (1857-1879). According to a note that accompanied the photo, the women probably sat by a bush in front of the summer house on a hillock, north of the Candidature wing.
Photo was taken between 1870-1877. The date is based on when all five served at the Milwaukee Motherhouse (the dates in parenthesis) and the fact that the photographer’s studio was listed on Broadway – the city of Milwaukee changed the name of Main Street to Broadway in 1870.
It is true that four of the five pictured were members of the first two groups of missionary sisters that came to North America from Bavaria, but that isn’t the reason this photo was taken. Mother Caroline and Sister Seraphina were in the first group and Sister Theophila and Sister Emmanuela were part of the second group (Sister Emmanuela was a novice when she came to America).