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View Diary: GFHC: From the Extended Family Tree - Ahead of Their Time (68 comments)

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  •  Thank you, fenway, for another fascinating story. (11+ / 0-)

    It sounds to me exactly like something T. C. Boyle could have dreamed up. Once again, life imitates art.

    Also, since this is Open Thread day, I come begging assistance from the experts in photo-dating here.

    I found this photo attached to the entry for one of my Grands on the Find-A-Grave website. Now it is beginning to make its way to various trees on Ancestry.com. I contend that it cannot possibly be of the person it is purported to be as he died in backwoods Illinois in 1840.

    wooten harris - purportedly

    What do you think?

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:31:09 AM PST

    •  oh you gonna need someone (8+ / 0-)

      who's way more of history geek than me, lol, but my off the cuff guess is your instincts are right.

      with a quick google I find:

      Daguerreotype: 1839 - History Begins
      1839 is recognized as the dawn of photographic history, even though many people were working on various techniques for nearly 30 years prior.
      tintypes and paper card photos for the masses didnt come along til the 1860's according to that source.

      If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

      by Lady Libertine on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:39:21 AM PST

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    •  Not an expert (7+ / 0-)

      but by the clothes and clarity of image I'd place that photo well after 1840.

      Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

      by fenway49 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 10:46:17 AM PST

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      •  I'm sure you are right. (7+ / 0-)

        The clothes don't look right and the haircut is too "clean." The man this photo is purported to be of was a frontiersman, fought in the Revolutionary War, followed the good land west and north until he "removed" to Bond Co. IL in the late 1820s. I believe he would have worn a beard and probably longish hair . Barbers would have been a luxury and so would have been the kind of scissors that would be needed for such a clean cut look.

        Looks to me more like something from the 1890s or early 1900s.

        It aggravates me a little bit that the person who posted this photo won't answer my questions about its provenance. That's to say nothing of a comment left by someone who said she was this person's GGGG-Granddaughter saying "I'm so glad to see this picture. Wooten Harris was not buried in the Harris Cemetery."  That's it?  Everything I've ever seen on Wooten says he was buried in the Harris Cemetery. I saw his marker there in October. So what the heck is the rest of the story? She hasn't answered my email either.  Do any of you run across stuff like this? Very frustrating...

        Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

        by figbash on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 11:11:28 AM PST

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        •  My thought too (8+ / 0-)

          1890s-early 1900s. Especially on the frontier, it doesn't look right for before 1840.

          I've had some difficult people. One woman on ancestry.com said "you're no relation of mine" because her tree didn't include the sibling I descend from, even though town records and a published genealogy show the descent.

          I've also had one "family association" deny me membership because my ancestor wasn't in the published genealogy from 1885 or something. Again, I've got town records, Revolutionary War pension files, etc. They don't care. So the hell with 'em.

          But many more people have been helpful and happy to hear from me.

          Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

          by fenway49 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 11:21:44 AM PST

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    •  Likely not possible (6+ / 0-)

      There wasn't anything much besides daguerrotypes by 1840, which that photograph is definitely not.  Photographs from 1840 are exceedingly rare.  Photography hadn't spread widely either.  People didn't much think that getting their picture taken was something to do back then.  Unless you're wrong about the death date, it likely is a picture of someone else.

      Mark Twain: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

      by Land of Enchantment on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 12:00:47 PM PST

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      •  The person in question (7+ / 0-)

        it seems, was born in early 1759 and fought in the American Revolution. I have confidence in figbash's death date and he'd have been 81 then. Not likely he lived long enough to wear those clothes and take this picture.

        My guess is it's either the grandson of the same name (1823-1901) or someone else entirely and a screw-up. The person who posted it on find-a-grave said she was new to this stuff.

        I had someone on ancestry who used my grandfather's DOB and death for her husband's grandfather. Same name, save middle initial, and same approximate lifespan. The one she wanted lived about 10 miles away and was born 3 years later.

        Even after I found it for her, she didn't believe me. Insisted she had the right dates. I told her, "I'm holding my grandfather's death certificate in my hand. I was at his funeral. We celebrated his birthday every year. I know those dates are MY grandfather." She didn't care.

        Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 12:20:13 PM PST

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    •  Extraterrestrial technology or the wrong person (7+ / 0-)

      The sepia tone, in this case, was added by a separate post-processing step. And it was a very sloppy job. The lower left corner shows that the sepia wash was just splashed on the print. The top part of the picture is either physically damaged or the squeegee used to spread the sepia evenly wasn't done evenly.

      Sepia tones were popular starting in about 1895. They're still done today. The peak popularity was between 1895 and 1920.

      My guess is that this photo is from later in that period, perhaps as late as the 1930's.

      The very early pictures that show sepia tones were due to the deteriorating chemicals used in the printing process. The original prints were black and white but showed their age over time. Thus, the idea that sepia tones showed that a picture was old became popular. If this were a picture from that era (1858-1895-ish), the sepia tones would be even throughout without a hint of post-processing.

      Besides, the pressed suit, the shirt collar style, the machine-made buttonholes, and the glasses are straight out of the 20's or 30's.

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 03:46:25 PM PST

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      •  1920s (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim H, edwardssl, GrumpyOldGeek, brook, figbash

        would rule out my hypothesis that it's the grandson Wooten Harris (1823-1901). Maybe someone just messed up.

        Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:52:15 PM PST

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        •  Another clue (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edwardssl, brook, figbash, fenway49

          His glasses are deliberately tilted to prevent light reflections. IMO, the shadows reveal a couple of light sources. This means using electric floodlights which weren't available until 1910-1915 or so. Soft, diffused floodlights were even later than that.

          I doubt that this is the grandson.

          "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

          by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 08:16:26 PM PST

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    •  Not that it's needed, but... (6+ / 0-)

      ...I concur with my esteemed colleagues here who exclaim "Pshaw!" at the notion of a date of 1840 for this photograph. :-)

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 04:34:46 PM PST

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      •  With that I feel perfectly confident in gently (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brook, fenway49, edwardssl

        suggesting to the person who posted the pic to Wooten Harris's (1759-1840) memorial on the Harris Cemetery, Fayette Co, IL that the picture she has added cannot be of the person she has posted it to.

        So, pshaw to  her..... nicely.

        Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

        by figbash on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 08:47:45 AM PST

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    •  I think most likely after 1865-70. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brook, figbash, fenway49, edwardssl

      Even though a few studio photographs were made a bit earlier than that, it was not common. For a downstate man to have access to such a studio suggests a time when the photo studio market was well saturated by businesses.

      By his suit, it could be even later. I have been working on old family photos and find that the suits do have distinctive collar differences at times. This suit is much more in the recent style and therefore likely not as early as might be guessed.

      But for a photo story that I think is funny, I found a common ancestor on ancestry.com for whom someone had posted a photo. This man died in 1754. The woman who posted it had a comment that she had been left a box of photos from her father's family (a divorced father, I think) and her mom told her they were old people from her dad's family. So she just started matching them to names . . .

      Ha,ha. I did leave her a comment about the very first photo being taken in 1827 or so, and that this one was a studio photo likely from the 1870s, with a typical plush background.
      I also pointed out that he was not wearing knee breeches as might have been the case in 1750, but she never responded.

      Democrats promote the Common good. Republicans promote Corporate greed.

      by murasaki on Fri Feb 08, 2013 at 09:12:28 PM PST

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    •  I am sending a big round of applause to (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brook, liz dexic, fenway49, edwardssl

      everyone who has helped me out with this.

      I was certain that this photo could not possibly be of the Wooten Harris (1759-1840) that it was attached to on Find-A-Grave. Unfortunately the person who posted it still hasn't answered my email but I'm now going to try again. You have all convinced me that I was right to be skeptical.

      However, this has opened up the unexpected question of which cemetery "my" Wooten was actually buried in. Because I could not find his wife's stone in the Harris Cemetery, I've begun to entertain the possibility that maybe there is a legitimate question, especially since I could not find his wife's stone there.

      Looks like I have yet another reason to visit the county courthouses in Bond and Montgomery Counties.  Road trip! Road trip!

      Thanks, everybody, for indulging me.

      Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

      by figbash on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 09:27:01 AM PST

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      •  Did you see (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        figbash, edwardssl

        the other entry for him on Find-A-Grave. The creator specifically notes that the Harris Cemetery has a Revolutionary War plaque for him but asserts he was buried in Glendale Cemetery in Fillmore.

        No Harris women listed there in his timeframe; oldest seems to be his son Benjamin's wife, who was born in 1802.

        Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 10:12:10 AM PST

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        •  You are a true mensch, fenway! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fenway49, edwardssl

          I think I've got my head wrapped around all this now and you've been essential in this accomplishment today. It would usually take me a week or so of puttering around to do it.

          It does seem that Wooten was NOT buried in the Harris Cemetery but that the plaque there is memorial in nature only. An honor for a pioneering citizen of the County and one of the patriarchs of the Harris clan in that territory.

          He was apparently buried first in the Scribner burying grounds in Fillmore Township and "recently," according to an Aug 2011 comment his remains were relocated to the Glendale Cemetery.

          Poor old guy, not exactly resting in peace.  

          By the way, that book you pointed me to about the Primitive Baptist Church of Montgomery Co. has many references to this Wooten Harris and his brother Zachariah and other family membrs. He was one of its earliest members and had his hand in agitating for a new county -- which is something he also did in North Carolina. This guy did NOt want to travel more a day's horseback ride to get to the Courthouse.  I'm going to do a diary on the book, the religious practices and day-to-day life of these frontier folk soon. It will be dedicated to you!

          Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

          by figbash on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:20:59 PM PST

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          •  Looking forward to it! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            figbash, edwardssl

            And glad to be of service.

            I wouldn't want to ride more than a day to get to the courthouse either. In those days you had to go there to vote. It's why we vote on Tuesdays, so people could keep the sabbath on Sunday and spend Monday getting to the county seat. Apparently, with only men voting and wives back on the farm, election day was a raucous party time in the 1800s.

            Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

            by fenway49 on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 12:44:54 PM PST

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            •  You'll like what the menfolk of the church (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              edwardssl

              had to say about it then. They definitely had their ideas about how things should be.  Hey, sounds familiar, doesn't it?

              Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

              by figbash on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:13:28 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

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