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One hundred and twenty-four years ago Oliver E. Aultman welcomed a well dressed woman and her family to his newly opened third floor gallery in the West Building, the “finest (photography studio) of its size west of Chicago” according to the local papers. Trinidad, Colorado was a booming town in 1890, supporting the surrounding mining communities and business ventures. This family arrived in their finest clothes, the father and eldest son dressed in matching plaid three-piece suits, their patterned silk ties neatly knotted at their throats. The younger boy, not old enough for his own suit, wore his best pleated wool coat, with a complimentary bow tie. The two girls wore matching dresses, with ruffled shoulders and loose fitting bodices. The mother wore a dark dress, with a pleated bodice and ruffled shoulders, decorated with elaborate applique and a small locket. Her hair was swept back in a low bun, with short bangs and a bit of curl.
Oliver Aultman composed several shots of the family; the adults were placed in separate poses empty of props or backdrops, and the children were grouped on some bales of hay, casually placed in front of a subtle bamboo-patterned panel. After the shoot, the young photographer and the parents discussed the viewing of proofs; the glass negatives were placed in envelopes and labeled S.A. Stephens in pencil. Sometime later the final portraits were selected, copies made and distributed to friends and family, including the family of Francis Marion and Mary Jane Gwynn Minor, of Garards Fort, Pennsylvania. Who was S. A. Stephens? Is that the name of the father? Of the mother, the well dressed woman? Or is it the name of the person who contracted for the sitting? And how is S. A. Stephens and the well dressed family related to the Minors of Ceylon Lane, Garards Fort, Pennsylvania??
Accepting all hints and recommendations for further investigation!! Stay tuned…
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Stuck between some sheet music bearing my grandfather’s signature was a photograph. A faded copy of a copy, it depicted a mid-19th century cane-carrying gentleman astride a large dapple gray horse. Establishing provenance of the photograph is almost impossible, but the copy appears to have been among Donald Minor’s possessions, which were then stored by my mother, Marilyn Minor Strickland, and inherited by me.
When first discovered, I posited that this commanding figure was a Minor.(read my first post here)
Since that summer day, I have been in communication with two Minor cousins, and was lucky enough to score a new photograph. This time provenance is known. The original photograph of John Pearson (Pierson) Minor was taken by J. P. Shafer of Morgantown, West Virginia, held by his son, Samuel, in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and then passed down through that family to my cousin, Ron.
The figure on the horse bears a striking resemblance to the man calmly sitting for his portrait. My investigation into my mystery horseman will require additional knowledge of period clothing and hairstyles. I also think the cane may hold a clue about his identity. But I am stepping lightly toward identifying the rider as one John P. Minor, circa 1860.
Perspective–to look through, to see clearly.
This morning’s snow must be endured, says pup one. Stay within the tracks that someone or something else has laid down. Do your business. Get back inside. sNOw more.
This morning’s snow is meant to be plowed, says pup two. This stuff is head burying, mole sniffing fun! MOM! Watch me gallop through this stuff! Hahahahahahaha!! SNOW MORE!!!!
It’s all in how you see it.