While going through the hundreds of family photographs sometimes seems like a never-ending chore, some lovely little surprises lurk in those tan and white pieces of cardboard or mahogany and black squares of tin.
Emeline Cochran Stout, my great-great grandmother, for instance.
My great-grandmother Hattie Morgan Stout kept this photo in her album. While there are many family photographs of the Stout family, photographs of Emeline are rare.
Several clues help date the photo.
This Carte de Visite was made by a photographer called Courtney in Millersburg, Ohio.
I am not sure who printed “Emeline Stouts” or why there is an “s” on the end of Stout. The other pencil notations are mine. My notes show how I used information on the photographer to help date the photo.
The photographer had a studio with the Courtney name from 1858 to 1871 in Millersburg, according to “Ohio Photographers 1839-1900”, which I found on Google Books. Because Emeline looks fairly young in the photograph, and because of the dress style, I am tentatively dating the photo at circa 1860 which would mean she was in her early thirties.
She is wearing what looks like a silk or taffeta dress with drop sleeves ending in a tight fit at the wrist and decorated with a strip of velvet. The yoke of the dress is plain, and set off by a band of velvet around the bust line. The full skirt, including an “apron” is decorated with ornate ruffles and bows, with a ruffle around the bottom of the skirt. I am intrigued by the chain draped across her bosom and tucked into the waist band. It looks like a watch dangles from the top of the chain. Anyone have any ideas on this?
I notice that she is wearing a dark band ring on her index finger, but no ring on what we consider the “ring finger.” Her elaborate sausage curls on the back of her head soften the more severe drawn-back flat style on the top. She is wearing hoop earrings.
I am puzzled as to why Emeline, who lived in Guernsey County, Ohio would have traveled to Millersburg to have her photograph taken. She may have been visiting relatives, but I have not been able to make a connection. Her oldest son, my great-grandfather William Cochran Stout, later known as “Doc”, would have been about 15. So although after he was married he lived in Killbuck, just south of Millersburg, that would have been far in the future.
Was there a special occasion for this photograph? I have not followed the Cochran family in detail, but most of her siblings headed west. Her husband had two siblings–Isaac, who moved from New Jersey to California and a sister whom I have no information on, so I can’t account for this photo being in Millersburg by a visit to her family.
Later in life, Emeline lost her eyesight. The failing eyesight shows up in the later family photographs like this one, where she seems to squint. I find it interesting, that while she doesn’t have the sausage curls she wore some 30 years before, she still parts her hair in the middle and wears it flat on top.
I like the photographer’s frame on this photo, with a piece of braid glued on the cardboard to accent the oval opening that shows off the portrait.
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER
It took me a while to realize that these next two family photographs were related–in more than one way.
First we talked about Emeline Cochran Morgan, now we move on to her daughter in law and her grand daughter. Remember that letter that a fourteen-year-old Vera Stout wrote to her grandmother? In 1888, Hattie and Doc Stout had worked on the Ohio Centennial and the County Loan. The ribbon they received shows up in a crazy quilt that Emeline helped Hattie sew.
Although it doesn’t show here, these pictures were framed with identical Tibbals, Millersburg O. photographer’s frame. The dress styles are similar, with modified leg of lamb sleeves and plaid patterns. The women have similar hairdos–the flat on top, parted in the middle with spit curls that fortunately was a fad that did not last long. Both sport small pins and wear no earrings.
Unlike the Courtney photographer of Emeline Stout, I was not able to find a biography of this Tibbals, although I spotted him on lists of Ohio photographers from the 1880s to early 20th century.
However, the hair style and dress provide good evidence. The best evidence, however, comes from other photographs of my grandmother, Vera Stout who left me numerous photos from school days onward.
And here she is in 1900 after high school.
So there you have it. Great-great grandmother Stout going to Millersburg Ohio to have a portrait made. Great-grandmother Hattie Morgan Stout and her daughter Vera May Stout on an expedition to Millersburg to have their portraits made on the same day. Vera was the last child at home, as her sister Maude had married in 1898 and her brother Will was attending school in New York state.