Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Could this tintype be Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick?

My grandpa Rosmer died 9 February 1969 in Port Huron, Michigan. He was 76 at the time and by several years the first of my grandparents to pass away. He surely could have told me who it is in this photograph if I'd ever seen it, but I hadn't. No matter, I suppose, since I would surely have forgotten anyhow by the time I became interested in dead relatives.

Last week when I found identified photographs of Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick and Theron Emmons Sedgwick, I was hoping a family resemblance might lead me to identify one of my unidentified photos as Elijah Sedgwick, my fourth great-grandfather, so I took them out to make some comparisons.

To me, the resemblance here is striking. I don't doubt for a minute that this is a Sedgwick, but is it Elijah?

Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs, by Karen Frisch-Ripley, is my go-to reference for pinning down the type of photo and the range of years during which it was prevalent. Tintypes, like the photo above, were widely produced from 1856 into the 1920s. Elijah died in December 1861, so he was still around when tintypes were made. But he was 92 years old at the time of his death, and this man is nowhere near that.

Beards, according to that most dependable of all resources, Wikipedia, were rare in the United States in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. However, they had become prevalent by the mid-nineteenth century. Consequently, I'd have to guess that even Elijah's four sons would have been older than the man in this picture. My guess is that this is one of his grandsons.

I'd guess this man was in his 20s or 30s when the tintype was made. Samuel Hopkins Sedgwick was born in 1848, which puts him in the right timeframe.

Sometimes you can rule out an identification by creating a split-face image in Paint Shop Pro. Taking one side of the face from the known image and the other side from the unidentified image, you fiddle around a bit with the size and placement to see if the facial features line up proportionately. A match doesn't guarantee the correct identity, but a noticeable mismatch rules out a possibility. I tried this technique with the two images above, and the facial features line up very well.

A study of the eyes and eyebrows, hairline, and shape of the head leads me to think my tintype is an early photo of Samuel H. Sedgwick. Maybe there's a Sedgwick descendant who can shed some light on this topic? If so, please leave a comment (if you include your email address or another way for me to contact you, I will not publish the comment for all the world to see!).

Tomorrow, another photo... another Sedgwick?

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Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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