Friday’s Faces from the Past: Unknown Beerbower or Peters Family

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Beerbower Family-

Unknown man- reprint of c. 1850s photo by J. A. Vail, Photographer, Marion, Ohio. Found in front of Samuel T. Beerbower family bible.
Unknown man- reprint of c. 1850s photo by J. A. Vail, Photographer, Marion, Ohio. Found in front of Samuel T. Beerbower family bible. (Click to enlarge.)
Unknown man- reverse. Reprint of c. 1850s photo by J. A. Vail, Photographer, Marion, Ohio. Found in front of Samuel T. Beerbower family bible.
Unknown man & woman photos- reverse. Photo by J. A. Vail, Photographer, Marion, Ohio. Found in front of Samuel T. Beerbower family bible. (Click to enlarge.)

These photographs were found in with the bible held by the Marion County Historical Society that is known as the Samuel T. Beerbower Family Bible. In 1867 Samuel Taylor Beerbower (1842-1902) married Irene Lewella Peters (1846-1924). Much of the information found in the bible relates to the Peters family- there is actually very little about the Beerbowers. (See previous series posts of Bible pages and transcriptions, starting here: “The Family Bible of Samuel T. Beerbower and Irene L. Peters Beerbower- Series”).

Unknown woman in Samuel T Beerbower family bible. Likely late 1880s.
Unknown woman in Samuel T Beerbower family bible. Likely late 1880s. Same back as above:  J. A. Vail. Photographer, Marion, Ohio. (Click to enlarge.)

Gale E. Martin, Director of the Marion County Historical Society (MCHS), who so kindly has shared these photos and allowed them to be posted on this blog, analyzed the two photos:

“In looking at the way these 2 were placed in the album, I thought maybe they were a couple. The man’s photo appears to me to be a reprint of an 1850’s-60’s image (due to the beard, tie and the jacket) while the woman’s image must have been taken in the latter part of the 1880’s. The backs of the photos indicate Vail as the sole photographer which I believed happened after 1886. From 1881 to 1886 he was in partnership with T. B. Prentice.”

At first I thought these might be Irene’s paternal grandparents, Samuel Peters and Mary Stevenson. Since the man looks older and the picture was likely taken in the 1850s, it cannot be Samuel- he died in 1829, before photography.

There is a photo online of Mary Stevenson Peters: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=29451899&PIpi=115971226. Do you think this could be the same woman? If it is Mary, then who is the man- maybe not her husband?

The above persons could also possibly be Irene’s maternal grandparents, Willard Russell (1788-1872) and Lucia Cady Russell (1795-1890). Their birth and death dates would fit well with the photographer’s dates and Gale’s analysis of when the images were first taken.

Irene’s mother, Mary Cady Russell, died in 1850, so the woman is most probably not Mary. More research is needed on the Russell line of the family, and hopefully we can find some images that are labeled with names to confirm the above educated guesses.

Another option is that these folks could be Beerbowers. Eleazer John “E. J.” Beerbower (1815-1882) and Matilda Louise McKelvey (1823-1900) were Samuel’s parents, but it probably is not Eleazer- he would have been just 35 in 1850, so too young to be the man in the picture.

E. J. Beerbower’s father, Casper J. Beerbower (1782-1851), could possibly be the man in the picture, but his wife, Christina Reiber Beerbower (b. 1784), died in 1849, so the older woman is not likely to be Christina if it is indeed a couple pictured in these two images.

Sometimes ruling out people is the best one can do until new information becomes available.

 

Here is another photo found in the album:

Unknown older man found in front of the Samuel T. Beerbower-Irene L. Peters Beerbower Family Bible.
Unknown older man found in front of the Samuel T. Beerbower-Irene L. Peters Beerbower Family Bible. (Click to enlarge.)

In a previous post, we showed a picture found in the album that had a couple posed similar to many married couples. (Tuesday’s Tip: Local Historical Societies and the Beerbower Family) When analyzing unknown photographs, it is important to look at them separately, without pre-conceived notions so that an analysis can be unbiased. It is also important to then look at them to see if they could be a series of portraits of a particular family member, following them as they age. (As you may have noticed from face-recognition software used in photo programs, often a child is thought to be a parent or aunt/uncle, as facial features may be similar to those who have gone before, so this fact must be taken into account as well.)

Unknown man cropped from picture of a couple found in the front of the Samuel T. Beerbower Family Bible.
Unknown man cropped from picture of a couple found in the front of the Samuel T. Beerbower Family Bible. (Click to enlarge.)

Take a good look at the cropped image of the man from the Tuesday’s Tip post, to the right.

Do you notice any similarities to the individual portrait on the left? Look at the high forehead, hairline and wave to the hair, ears, jawline, cheekbones. To me, even the eyebrows and mouth look similar. This could be a younger version of the older man above, in my opinion. The picture on the right is earlier than the image above, so that does fit as well.

 

Here is Gale Martin’s analysis of the photo of the couple, from which this image is cropped:

“I don’t think that is an 1850 photo. But there are elements of both eras. I think he is hanging on to an older hairstyle. During the 1850’s you saw the pompadour hair and sideburns such as he wears and the wide tie (men still wore that tie into the 1870s though). There again, look at the wide sleeve on the coat. Definitely Civil War era.

The woman in the image is wearing her hair more like the 1860’s than the 50s as it is flatter down on her ears and not puffed out. She also appears to perhaps be wearing a snood which also became popular in the 1860’s.

The fringe on the chair doesn’t really become popular until the 1860’s.”

We need to look at place, to see if the persons were in the vicinity to have a Marion Photographer. They could, however, have had the pictures taken when they were visiting, which family did quite frequently.

 

So we have the beginnings of a photo analysis, but no definitive identification yet. Even if we do not know their names for sure, it is really nice to see what our ancestors looked like!

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) “The Family Bible of Samuel T. Beerbower and Irene L. Peters Beerbower- Series”: http://heritageramblings.net/series/beerbower-peters-family-bible/

2) Marion County Historical Society & Wyandot Popcorn Museum, 169 East Church Street, Marion, OH 43302. www.marionhistory.comwww.wyandotpopcornmus.com

3) “Tuesday’s Tip: Local Historical Societies and the Beerbower Family”: http://heritageramblings.net/2015/03/10/tuesdays-tip-local-historical-societies-and-the-beerbower-family/

4) Find A Grave memorial #29451899 for Mary Stevenson Peters: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=29451899

5)  Find A Grave memorial #29452065 for Samuel Peters:  http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=29452065

 

 

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