When I first became curator of the Minor Family Album, I moved swiftly to identify this man, the first face to appear in the album. I was soooo certain of my clues and my analysis.
- This whiskered gent is the first photograph displayed in a Minor Family album created in the latter part of the 19th century. He must be an important family member. A patriarch.
- Thomas W. Rogers, the photographer, opened a studio in Carmichaels, Pennsylvania, in 1864 that remained in existence through the turn of the century. Thomas took the photograph of this ancestor.
- The cabinet photo’s cardstock is an ivory color, with round corners, and medium weight. According to internet sources, this description dates the card to between 1869-1875.
Digging into the family’s tree, I determined that the one Minor living near Carmichaels, Pennsylvania in the early 1870s old enough to present this image was none other than our patriarch, John Pearson (Pierson) Minor, 1791-1874. I proudly announced my conclusion to the world here.
WHAT A ROOKIE!!!
Time has passed, my skill set has expanded, newly discovered cousins have shared their treasures, and I have eaten a very, VERY large piece of humble pie. In other words, I MUST retract my earlier identification.
Starting over I apply the procedures learned from THE photo detective, Maureen A. Taylor, author of Family Photo Detective, Fashionable Folks Bonnets and Hats, Fashionable Folks Hairstyles, as well as, a wonderful blog on the subject.
This photograph is a paper print on a 4½ x 6½ inch ivory colored cardstock, with rounded corners. The photographer’s name and studio location–Thomas W. Rogers, Carmichaels, Pennsylvania–appear only at the bottom of the photo. There is no design or notation on the back. This portrait is an example of a cabinet card, most like created between 1869-1875.
Next I view the print with an eye for internal clues. The man is seated in front of a dark backdrop. White dots indicate that this photograph may be a photo of a photo–that the original photograph was on a surface like glass or tin, and that the photo’s chemicals flecked off with time. In the upper left hand corner there appears to be a curvature of the backdrop, as if the original photograph was in an oval shape.
The man is sporting a full beard, trimmed tight about his ears and mouth. Beards were not popular until the mid-late 1850s, and were worn by a generation of men until the late 1800s. The man has a full head of gray hair, worn long over his ears, and parted on the side. It does not appear to be greased down.
The shot captures the fellow from the chest up, and his beard hides the neckline. But the coat appears to be loose fitting, with a fairly wide lapel. The vest is of a different material and the top button is at the height of the coat’s top button, mid-chest.
These internal clues indicate a timeframe between the late 1850s and the late 1860s.
The man himself appears to be between 55 and 70 years old. And sick.
SO NOW WHAT?
Back to the stories, the roots, shoots, and leaves of this Minor Family tree. And let’s just suppose that I am looking for a male family member who would have been between 55-70 years of age in the late 1850s to the mid 1860s.
So, patriarch Abia was dead by 1834. Francis Marion and his brothers would have been too young to be the photographed dude. That leaves a closer examination of John P., Samuel, and Asa, all of whom would have been alive in the late 1850s and at least 60 years old.
MORE CLUES SURFACE
Cousin Ron Minor has generously shared a digital image, a photograph of a tintype, which was annotated with identification.
The man identified as John P. Minor (shown here on the left) has a higher forehead, and a thinner face. The eyebrows are not the same shape, and the hair appears to be thinner. Mr. Chin Whiskers is not John P. Minor.
A photograph of Samuel Minor found on the website Ancestry.com bears a strong resemblance to John P., a high forehead, with gray hair thinning at the brow. Samuel’s eyes are deeper set than those of my Mr. Chin Whiskers.
Is this ASA?
More clues to come…