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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, December 06, 2015
Wedding Wear, 1855
Posted by Maureen

Lumber merchant Peter Whitmer (born 1828) and his bride Lucy Jane McDonald (born 1837) had the means to pose for two portraits when they wed in February 1855. In the first, the couple posed alone.

Peter sits with top hat in one hand and his other gloved hand rests on the shoulder of his bride. Lucy looks contemplative, with her chin resting on one hand.



In the second wedding portrait, they posed with best man Dr. Charles Parke and bridesmaid Margaret McDonald, Lucy's sister. In the same year, Parke was commissioned a surgeon for the Russian Army during the Crimean War. His diary of the California Gold Rush has been published as Dreams to Dust.

 


Look closely at both portraits and you'll see the details in this well-dressed couple's wedding attire. Lucy wore a plaid dress with a wide lace collar and an open bonnet with silk interior that framed her face.

Peter's wide, horizontally tied silk neckwear was very fashionable over an upturned collar. His long frock coat and patterned vest was suitable for a wedding or formal business dealings. His hair and that of his best man reflects the popular style, long and combed into an upward peak on the top of their heads.

In 1855, most brides married in the home surrounded by family and friends. Clothing for the occasion was similar to everyday attire, but if the couple could afford it, outfits included a few extra touches such as a nicer fabric, silk trim or special lace. 

While both of these portraits look like paper photographs, the originals would have been shiny reflective daguerreotypes. Candace LaPrade shared other pictures of Peter Whitmer for last week's column.

Six of Lucy and Peter's seven children lived long lives.  In 1900, their children and grandchildren gathered for a portrait.
 


The little girl sitting second from the right in the front row is Candace's grandmother. Peter and Lucy are in the center.



Candace's grandmother wrote down all the names of the individuals in this group portrait and kept that paper in an envelope with the picture.

Candace is one lucky genealogist! She has multiple pictures of some of her ancestors and information to go with them.


Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now


  • 1850s photos | 1900-1910 photos | family reunion
    Sunday, December 06, 2015 8:50:37 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [0]
    # Sunday, August 03, 2014
    Family Reunions
    Posted by Maureen

    It's that time again: The every-other-year gathering of the Miller clan in Vermont. It grew from a gathering of siblings on a family farm in New York state to a cluster of cousins more than 60 years later. My husband's family is dedicated to keeping this tradition alive.

    Summer is the usual time for family reunions. In my husband's family we pose for photos in groups of families descended from the original siblings (all now deceased). Sitting or standing for family photographs is a time-honored part of a reunion experience.

    The photo below, from the collection of the Library of Congress, shows the Pershing family posing in 1923. It's a huge group of people, captured in a large panoramic image—these were quite popular in the early part of the 20th century. Today, panoramic images are usually found rolled up in a photo collection.



    For a better look at the original image, try this link. If you own one of these and no one has marked an X over the head of your grandmother or grandfather, it may take hours to figure out who's who.



    A short cut to start determining identities is to look at the center of the front row. That's usually where the oldest members of the family sit.

    While our reunion features photo albums of every gathering, there's a lot more we could do at the event. The Chart Chick, Janet Hovorka has Five Fabulous Family Reunion Ideas on her blog.

    As I head off for our reunion I have a few questions for you:
    • Have you ever attended or participated in a reunion?
    • What's the largest number of relatives in attendance? We usually have around 50 people with folks flying in from as far away as Australia! 
    • What type of family history activities take place at your family gatherings? The Pershings had an Infantry band on hand to entertain attendees:



    Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • family reunion | panoramic photos
    Sunday, August 03, 2014 4:46:43 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [1]