April 4, 2010

A mystery descendant.

(Click image to enlarge)

From the Kyle Rosene Collection comes this tintype photograph of an unnamed family member. I am hoping someone in the family might know who this is?

(Click image to enlarge)
The same photo enhanced
Could this be Eva K. or Emmie Lou Smith, Soapy's sisters,
or could it even be his daughter, Mary Eva Smith II?

I posted the photograph over on True West forum as there are a couple of historians who know their stuff regarding photography and nineteenth century fashion.

  • Odessa Red: Jeff...I think possibly this photo is from the 1840s or 50s?....it's hard for me to tell..the dress appears loosely fitting and hemmed below the knees. Jeff, do you know what she is holding in her left hand?

What is she holding?

  • Odessa Red: Thanks Jeff...definitely looks like a photo in a frame now! I still don't know year of dress.
  • Jules Martino: Tintype of the 1870s + or - a few years
  • Ginny Morgan: Jeff, This is a tough one...It looks like her dress is a cut down from a larger size..strange that she has short hair..but she looks a bit as if she had been ill...hair might have been cut due to fever..I have copied it and am going to look at it in my photo program...I am wanting to say...pre-1860..intriguing...
  • Odessa Red: I have heard that women grew their hair long unless they had an illness..then it was often cut... I had even tried to do a search on Victorian short haircuts to help try to date the photo (prior to Ginny posting :) but couldn't find anything helpful so I didn't comment...this photo is intriguing because of its mystery!
  • Ginny Morgan: Ok, my photo program was really no help...it is just really grainy when I try to enlarge it...my husband pointed out that the dress may even be much older...now I just am not sure it is pre-1860. I don't see a fitted waist and it looks as if the bottom has a section that has been pleated almost like a so called prairie dress or mother hubbard although I do not see a yoke at the top... here is a picture of some that I found..these are Tahitians but the style was popular in America..taken to Tahiti by missionaries...So if so, that would make it @ the 1870s-1880s. Also, the white at the cuffs was usually a piece that was detachable...to keep the dress clean.

I chose to first show the "gang" at True West the photographs because I knew from past experience that they would be able to work together in a rough and quick analysis of the tintype. There are others who did not or could not participate that I wager I will hear from regarding this post in the coming days. To all of them I extend a most sincere thank you.

*The following has been added after posting date:

  • Gold Lady: I'm not an expert on vintage clothing, but it looks to me like she's wearing a hand-me-down dress from an older sister or her mother that is too large. The shoulders don't fit, and the sleeves are long. Holding the photo may mean it's of her dead mother or maybe a namesake grandmother or aunt?
  • Ginny Morgan: I don't see her as the other lady...just my guess...the chin and other features don't look right and the hair is so much darker but the time frame would be right...
  • Ginny Morgan: The earrings are an odd touch...I have never seen a child wearing those kind of hoops unless it is an ethnic thing...I definitely think the dress is a hand me down mother hubbard type dress....Gosh, she is just fascinating me...so many things are just not right in the picture..
  • Gold Lady: I don't think it's a photo of a younger Eva either, the facial structures are completely different.
  • Odessa Red: I thought she might be a young or adolescent girl at first, too...saw the earrings and she appears to be of petite stature...also her lace collar would have been detachable/interchangeable as well. Ginny you are right...there are many things about this photo that just don't seem quite right. Doesn't it also look like she has on striped stockings, too?
  • Ginny Morgan: Yes, Odessa and that was very common for children. i have seen lots of pictures of children wearing striped stockings but very few with such grown up accessories...strange



  1. After studying this image for a while...it just seems to me like a young girl sort of playing 'dressup'. Aside from the earings she also seems to be wearing a ring on her left hand.
    My first impression of the tiny object was [after enlarging it]: A photo of an older male wearing a bowler type hat.Perhaps this young girl was infatuated with a teenage boy or young man,and the purpose of the image is to show him that she is not the little girl he believes she is.
    Of course this type of infatuation has been going on forever.
    Look closely at her eyes....she seems to be conveying...I am here for you.

  2. Upon further analysis...I believe this young girl may actually have long hair....that is tied up with what seems to be a ribbon.She may have tied it up at the back so the earings would indeed be visible.
    Also the ring on her left hand seem several sizes too big....lending more credence to my theory that almost everything she is wearing belongs to an older sister or other family member


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