These two copy photographs come
from my grandmother's family album. I am uncertain
about the identity of the lady with the sad
expression who could be either my great-grandmother
or my grandmother. The photograph was taken in
England, but we have no idea who took the picture.
Elizabeth Rogers (née Smith,
1822-1884), my greatgrandmother, had a particularly
sad life. Her 6-year old son, William George, died of
hydrocephaly in 1856 and her husband, Giles Richman
Rogers, junior, of Addison's disease in 186o aged 35.
During a visit to Reading, I found a report in the
Reading Mercury, Saturday March 16, 1861, about the
death of her eldest child, Emily Thereza aged 14. She
was a servant at Mrs Coleman's in Queens Road,
Reading, and was fatally burnt when her dress caught
My grandmother, Sarah Rogers
Longhurst (1852-1941) also had her share of
adversities. She was only 39 when she had to suddenly
up sticks and cross the Atlantic with seven of her
children to join her husband, Ebenezer (1849-1929),
who had emigrated a few months earlier. The second
photograph was taken of them by "C. F. Havercamp"
in Chester, Pennsylvania, USA. A small circular
brooch appears in both pictures.
Unlabelled photographs are the bane of every
family historian. However, with most of them it
is usually possible, by examining the fashions
and studio setting, estimating the sitters' ages
and noting the size and type of photograph, to
date them within a few years. This information
can then be applied to identify a possible
candidate on the family tree.
The "sad lady"
The photograph of the "sad lady" was
taken outside the front door of a house - note
the boot scraper - and, because there are only a
few leaves on the plant behind her, possibly
sometime in the autumn or winter. Her two-piece
woollen tartan frock is trimmed on the bodice
with dark velvet and dates from about 1890. The
rounded corners, plain back and size of the copy
photograph suggest that it is a cabinet picture
from the same period.
Your great-grandmother would have been 62 when
she died in 1884 and this woman appears to be in
her late thirties or early forties. So the
subject of this picture is most likely to be your
grandmother who would have been 39 in 1891. It
was probably taken just before her departure to
America. It is interesting to speculate that
copies may exist with other relatives in England.
Ebenezer and Sarah Longhurst
Your grandmother obviously treasured her small
circular brooch and wore it for their photograph
in the 1920s. Do you know what its significance
might be? The occasion for this picture may be
their golden wedding anniversary but you didn't
say when they were married. In any case it cannot
be later than 1928, the year your grandfather
I will write about your other two photographs
in the next Berkshire Family Historian.