Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Tanner Family Daguerreotype: Woman at Right

The most easily identifiable person is the woman to the right. She has very distinctive facial features. Anyone familiar with the Tanner family would glance at the picture and immediately identify her as Louisa Maria Tanner Lyman. (Except for those who would call her Maria Louisa.)

Note: Although many sources call her Maria Louisa, the George S. Tanner book John Tanner and His Family states that her name was Louisa Maria. The confusion undoubtedly comes because she was known as Maria. Unfortunately, even her gravestone is wrong. (Her death certificate and most census forms and an early letter use Louisa as her first name.)

Louisa Maria Tanner Lyman's gravestone, Tooele City Cemetery, Tooele, Utah. From Find A Grave.

Maria was the ninth child of John Tanner and his wife Lydia Stewart Tanner. John Tanner had 21 children with three non-polygamous wives. He had sixteen boys and five girls. Four of the boys and three of the girls died in infancy or childhood. The two surviving daughters were both daughters of Lydia Stewart Tanner: Matilda, who lived most of her life in Kirtland, Ohio, and Maria, who went West with the Saints and spent most of her life in California and Utah. Maria went to visit her sister Matilda in Kirtland in 1887.

Maria was the first wife of Apostle Amasa Lyman. Due to complications caused by her husband's responsibilities and personality and circumstances, she lived a very difficult life.

Here is an enlargement of the daguerreotype:

The picture of Maria from the daguerreotype.

If the daguerreotype was taken in 1844, Maria would have been 26, which looks correct. She would not have been pregnant at the time, since she had a daughter born in 1843, and a son born in 1846. But her next two children were born in 1849 and 1852. It is possible that the picture was taken as late as 1851, before the family left South Cottonwood for San Bernardino, since a daguerreotypist arrived in Salt Lake City in 1850. There is also a possibility that it was taken in San Bernardino. (More about that later.)

Maria Tanner Lyman, date unknown.

Maria Tanner Lyman, date unknown.

Standing, left to right: Joseph, Freeman, Seth, Myron. Sitting, left to right: David Dan, Maria Lyman, Nathan. Picture taken during a Tanner family reunion on August 15, 1898. The three Tanner children who traveled West and are not in the picture are: Albert (died 1879 in California), Sidney (died 1895), John Joshua (died 1896). There is supposed to be a better copy of this picture in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.

Maria Lyman, enlarged from the previous picture.

To be continued...

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

The pictures of Louisa Maria are from (1) Ancestry.com, courtesy of Claudia Rayl, original source unknown; (2) http://georgeandsadiefrey.blogspot.com/2009/07/amasa-mason-lyman-photos.html, original source unknown; (3) FindaGrave, courtesy of SMSmith, original source unknown; (4) Ancestry, courtesy of Craig Watkins, scanned from the book John Tanner and His Family (George S. Tanner, 1974), (5) and (6) Ancestry, courtesy of AnnTandJessWagstaff, original source unknown.


  1. As I noted in another post, this series is currently on hold until life returns to normal and I can resume my regular posting schedule and finish the series.

    Spoiler alert: the conclusion I reach is very similar to the conclusion reached in the email from the Church History Library included in the Introductory post.

  2. Spoiler alert update: the conclusion I reach is actually quite different from the conclusion in the email.