Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Tanner Family Daguerreotype: We Meet the Tanners

Let's consider the possible identities of the people in the daguerreotype. For purposes of identification, we will assume that the dating of the picture to 1844-1845 is correct.

Assuming, first, that this is, in fact, a picture of members of the John Tanner family, here are the characters we have to choose from:

John Tanner (1778 Rhode Island - 1850 South Cottonwood, Utah) — He would have been 66 years old at the time this picture was taken. The man to the left in the picture looks more like he's in his thirties or forties. John Tanner went on a mission in 1844.

John's children with his first wife Tabitha Bentley (1780-1801)
  • Elisha Bentley Tanner (1801 New York - 1858 New York) — There is no record suggesting that Elisha ever left New York. But it is possible that he visited the Tanners in Illinois and was in this photo.
John's children with his second wife, Lydia Stewart (1783 - 1825 New York)
  • William Stewart Tanner (1802 New York - 1875 Massachusetts) — There is no record of William visiting Illinois. He lived in New York, Georgia, New York, and then Massachusetts. But like Elisha, it is possible that he visited the Tanners in Illinois and was in this photo.
  • Matilda Tanner Randall (1804 New York - 1888 Kirtland, Ohio) — Mathilda and her family never joined the Church. They moved to Kirtland with the Tanners, but stayed there. It is unlikely that she or her husband, Jared Randall, would have visited Illinois and been in this picture.
  • Willard Tanner (1806 - 1807 New York)
  • Sidney Tanner (1809 New York - 1895 Beaver, Utah) — The age is right for this to be Sidney. We will look at his pictures later.
  • John Joshua Tanner (1811 New York - 1896 South Cottonwood, Utah) — The age is right for this to be John Joshua. We will look at pictures later.
  • Romelia Tanner (1814 - 1814 New York)
  • Nathan Tanner (1815 New York - 1910 Granger, Utah) — Another option, and we will look at pictures in a subsequent post.
  • Edward and Edwin Tanner, twins (1817 -1817 New York)
  • Louisa Maria Tanner Lyman (1818 New York - 1906 Salt Lake City, Utah) — She is the woman in the picture to the right. See photos later. See discussion about her husband, Amasa Lyman, below.
  • Martin Henry Tanner (1822 New York - 1907 New York) — He accompanied the Tanners on their adventures to the West and served a mission for the Church but then returned to live in New York. He was probably too young to be the man in the picture, but he is still an option. Could he be the boy standing in the back?
  • Albert Miles Tanner (1825 New York - 1879 California) — Was in the Mormon Battalion, stayed in California. He was almost the same age as Myron, and was too young to be the man to the left in this picture. Could he be the boy standing in the back?
John's children with his third wife, Elizabeth Beswick (1825 New York - 1890 Payson, Utah)
  • Myron Tanner (1826 New York - 1903 Salt Lake City, Utah) — Myron may be the boy standing in the picture. See pictures later.
  • Seth Benjamin Tanner (1828 New York - 1918 Taylor, Arizona)
  • Freeman Everton Tanner (1830 New York - 1918 Payson, Utah)
  • Joseph Smith Tanner (1833 New York - 1910 Payson, Utah)
  • Philomelia Tanner (1835 Kirtland, Ohio - 1838 Indiana)
  • David Dan Tanner (1838 Kirtland, Ohio - 1918 Provo, Utah)
  • Sariah Tanner (1840 Iowa - 1853 California)
  • Fancis Tanner (1843 Iowa - 1844 Iowa)

Bentley Family

No one has seemed to do any real genealogy for the family of John Tanner's first wife, Tabitha Bentley. From a brief glance online, it is likely that she fits into the family of Elisha Bentley (1759 Washington, Rhode Island - 1839 Fulton, New York). But I will not add the information to my genealogy without during further research. If you follow the link on Elisha's name, it provides a will which mentions that he had two families: one with a first wife, one with a second wife, Basheba. Three children in the family, Atta Bentley Hamilton, Elisha Bentley Jr., and Joseph S. J. Bentley lived and died in Carthage, Hancock, Illinois. Did they travel West from New York with the Tanner family?

Elisha Bentley Jr. is probably the man noted in the same Pioneer Company as the Tanner family, but a brother-in-law of John Tanner, and not his father-in-law, as stated in Pioneers and Prominent Men. And it looks like he may have returned East after traveling to Utah.

It is possible that the man in the photo is a Bentley relative since several of them lived in the area.

Beswick Family

If you look at the mouths of the three people to the left in the picture, they all seem to have a very similar mouth. The man to the left could be a relative of Elizabeth Beswick.

The following information is taken from the family entries in Ancestry and NewFamilySearch and may be entirely erroneous. I've only done some basic fact checking. Elizabeth's siblings were:
  • John Beswick (1793 New York - 1856 New York) — Like John Tanner's oldest sons, there is no indication that he was ever in Illinois or Iowa.
  • Caleb Beswick (1795 New York - 1842 New York) — He died before the picture could have been taken.
  • Polly Beswick Cook (1798 New York - 1877 Payson, Utah) — She seems to have lived in Iowa in 1850. One record notes that her husband died in 1855 in Panama, but the records do not agree on her husband's name and eventual fate.
  • David Beswick (1800 New York - 1842 New York) — Since the death date is the same as Caleb's, this could be erroneous.
  • Daniel Beswick (1805 New York - 1864 New York) —  Like John Beswick, there is no indication that he was ever in Illinois or Iowa.
  • Rebecca Beswick Varnum (1806 New York - 1885 New York) — Her husband, Reuben Varnum, also died in New York.
  • Harriet Beswick Woodard (1810 New York - 1886 New York) — There is some disagreement. She may have lived the latter part of her life in Ohio.
  • Maria Beswick Putney (1813 New York - 1901 New York)
It is possible that the man in the picture is a Beswick relative.

Amasa Lyman

Amasa Lyman, Louisa Maria Tanner's husband, is a logistical possibility, but he's not in the picture.

Amasa Lyman with beard.
Amasa Lyman without beard.

And those seem to be all the likely possibilities.


Links to Posts in the Tanner Family Daguerreotype Series

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: We Meet the Tanners
Part 3: What is a Daguerreotype?
Part 4: Technology Meets the Tanners
Part 5: Woman at Right
Part 6: Woman in Center

Part 7: Boy in Back — First Possibility
Part 7: Boy in Back — Additional Possibilities
Part 8: Man at Left — John Tanner?
Part 8: Man at Left — Options

Part 9: Conclusion

Daguerreotype from Ancestry.com, courtesy of Claudia Rayl. Pictures of Amasa Lyman from  (1) Wikipedia, and (2) Mormonwiki.com.

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