All In the Family Photogaphs – Grandmothers

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.

Emeline Cochran Stout, 1870 Colorized from the original black and white photograph.**

My great-grandmother Hattie Morgan Stout kept this photo (in black and white) in her album. While there are many family photographs of the Stout family, photographs of Emeline are rare.

Although the black and white version of the photo makes the dress look all black, the colorized version reveals that it is irredescent taffeta blending blue and purple in the shot silk weave.

Several clues help date the photo. (Plus additional information supplied by a reader. See the comments that changed my original estimate of 186os to the more accurate 1870.)

This Carte de Visite was made by a photographer called Courtney in Millersburg, Ohio.

Back of photo

Back of Emeline Stout 1870 with Courtney Photography imprint

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 1870 which would mean she was about 42.  In September, 1871 she gave birth to a child who died. In 1872, both her husband and 5-year-old daughter died.

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. (Colorizing the photo revealed it is shot silk, a taffeta woven of two colors. Quite glamorous. 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. (See readers comment for definition of dress style.)  m*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.

Emeline Cochran Stout

Emeline Cochran Stout, mother of Dr. Wm Stout. 1890s.


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.


Vera Stout, 16

Vera Stout,1897, when she was 16 years old.


Vera Stout, 17

Vera Stout, 17, top right on class trip to New York City in 1898


And here she is in 1900 after high school.

Vera May Stout 1900

Vera May Stout and Jean Stout, wife of Vera’s brother Will who sits in front. New York City 1900.

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.


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About Vera Marie Badertscher

I am a grandma and was named for my grandma. I've been an actress, a political strategist and a writer.I grew up in various places, went to high school in Killbuck, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. My husband and I moved to Arizona after graduation and have three adult children. I love to travel and read. I ponder family as I cook. Look for my DNA profile on Ancestry.

5 thoughts on “All In the Family Photogaphs – Grandmothers

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Thanks, Amy. Yes, as oldest girl, I was named for both grandmothers–my other grandmother, who died before I was born contributed the middle name. Her name was Mary Kaser, and my parents changed that to Marie for Vera Marie.
      My mother was the only girl in her family and her first name Harriette and nickname Hattie was for the Hattie Stout (above) and her middle name was the middle name of her paternal grandmother.
      My great-aunt (oldest in her family)was given the first name Mary for her first name (maternal grandmother Mary Morgan)and middle name Emeline (above).
      So grandmothers were honored for quite a while. However, my brother, sister and I had no girls! So our mother’s name of Harriette did not get passed on a second time. And in a bow to modernity, none of my 3 grand daughters are named “Vera.”
      [I think I just wrote a 2nd blog post!]

      1. amy c

        Is that a common naming pattern—oldest daughter taking the names of both grandmothers, oldest sons taking the names of both grandfathers? Or was that just your family’s practice?

        It is sad to see the link broken, but yes, modern times are different. Our grandson Remy was named for five women (using his first and middle names plus his two Hebrew names), and not one of them was named Remy! (Rose, Beatrice, Sara, Elaine and Eva).

  1. V. Borboen

    Emiline’s photograph has to be dated a little later. By the costume c. 1869-1871. She is not wearing an apron but the new fashion that started in 1869 of the overdress lifted on the side and the back over a tournure. The hair is consistant with that date also.

    1. Avatar photoVera Marie Badertscher Post author

      Thank you so much for the additional detail on Emeline’s dress. Since she lived rather far from fashion centers, I have to assume the fashion would have taken a year or two to reach Ohio. And since the photographer apparently was only in Millersburg into 1971, I will change my speculation from the wider “1860’s” to 1870 or 1871.
      I also was curious about color, so I used the colorize feature in Ancestry. Instead of a flat black, which might be assumed from the black and white photo, the dress appears to be that fascinating irredescent taffeta that changes color as the light strikes it. It is properly called shot silk. In this case, the dress shimmers between blue and purple.
      In my defense, I put the word apron in quote marks to indicate it was a descriptive rather than specific term for the overdress.


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