Saturday, July 26, 2014

No longer a mystery, left behind in a box

For a number of months I have been working on a project to identify family members in very old photographs which have been condemned to the proverbial shoe box. Since many of these picture are unlabeled it takes a fair amount of work to identify them. 

This photograph came from material that belonged to Samuel and Emma Clement of Rowe, MA.  The photograph is of a male, approximately 20-25 years old, an extremely old tin type  image  1 inch tall by ¾ of an inch wide. It is taped to a card which measures 3 7/8 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches wide.  The photograph is extremely fragile and in all likelihood it has been physically handled for the last time.  I made several high resolution digital scans of it to preserve this important family photograph, while doing so I notice the back was severely corroded, and may need professional restoration to preserve it.  

Tintype photography, a style popular in the 1860’s,  was considered “instant photography,”because you could go into a studio and in 10 minutes or so walk out with your picture, like the first Polaroids.  They were called “Tin Types” not because they were made of tin, but because you cut them apart from a sheet with tin shears or snips.  The plates were made of a light sensitized steel a little thicker than modern aluminum foil.

Using research materials that have  known dated examples and references as a starting place, I now believe that this photograph was taken between 1865 and 1867, which makes it just about 150 years old. The image to the right has been digitally enhanced so that it can be seen better.

Who this is:  Daniel L. Clement was born May 8, 1847 in Philadelphia, Jefferson Co., New York. His father and mother were Charles & Sarah (Bromley) Clement.  In 1863 at the age of 16, he enlisted in the 47th New York Infantry Regiment as a private and participated in the Civil War. He served until his honorable discharge on 30 June 1865 at Munson Hill Virginia.   I have written a blog article about Daniel his wife and parents; you can access those articles at the following links: Who was Daniel L. Clement : Who was JClement : Charles B. Clement. He returned home from the service,  and the following year, on May 10, 1866, 2 days after his 19th birthday he married Mary Jane Palmer.  They had 6 children, four of whom survived and farmed land in the Croghan, NY area, until Daniel's death in 1894.  He was buried in the Evangelical Baptist Cemetery in Croghan, New York.  

Below are photographs that I have been collecting of Daniel and Mary Jane "Jennie" (Palmer) Clement's surviving children, from left to right is Mary "Mattie" Clement Herzig,  Anna P. Clement Ashcraft, Samuel E. Clement and Edwin Ira Clement. Look how closely Daniel's youngest 
son Edwin resembles him, and how the others have traits that closely match his, with the possible  exception of Mary, who looks most like her mother.  These comparison photographs have really been the key to sorting out this mystery, along with some very good research tools and knowing the source of the material has really helped in successfully identify this photograph.  

After Daniel's death Jennie travelled with her two son's Sam and Edwin to Colrain, MA where her daughter Mattie had relocated with her husband Albert and their family.  

About 1905 she returned to New York with Edwin, Sam decided to stay behind to start his family. Jennie returned to Massachusetts around 1910, living with her daughter, for a time. Whether it was home sickness or illness, she wanted to return home to New York.  While arraignments were being made with Edwin to get her back home, she died suddenly she was laid to rest in Christian Hill Cemetery, on top of the hill, in Colrain,  Massachusetts.    I enjoyed researching the photographs and the feeling of symmetry that comes from bringing them together again, as if the family itself were reunited.

“The people who have left us are never truly gone until there is no one left to remember them.”