Monday, April 15, 2013

The Tanner Family Daguerreotype: Boy in Back — First Possibility

In this continuation of a long-running series about a daguerreotype now in the Church History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, we look at the identity of the boy standing in the back of the picture. For previous installments of the series, see the links at the bottom of this post.

This picture was handed down through the Myron Tanner family, so the most obvious identity for the boy standing in the back would be Myron Tanner himself.

If the picture was taken in 1844, Myron would have been 18, which looks plausible. If it was taken around 1850-1851, he would have been too old to be the boy in the picture.

Close-up of the boy standing in the back.

Myron's presence would tend to date the daguerreotype more than any other person in it. Here is a brief biography, emphasizing the movements that place him at the correct locations to have been in this picture.

Myron Tanner was born in New York in 1826. He accompanied his parents, John and Elizabeth Beswick Tanner, to Kirtland, Missouri, and Iowa, where they lived across the river from Nauvoo, Illinois.

Myron Tanner, freighter, sometime before his marriage in 1856.

Myron enlisted in the Mormon Battalion (Company D) in 1846. He was taken ill and left the Battalion, overwintering in Pueblo, Colorado, and was with the group that entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 29, 1847, five days after Brigham Young arrived.

Myron immediately turned around and traveled to Winter Quarters, now North Omaha, Nebraska, where many of the Saints were living in makeshift homes. He spent a year working for George A. Smith, and then headed west in 1849 with the George A. Smith/Dan Jones Company. The company arrived in Salt Lake in October 1849 and Myron continued to work for George A. Smith. Before long, he found out that his father was very ill in South Cottonwood, so he went to help with his father's care in the final days before he died on April 13, 1850.

Myron Tanner, wedding photo, 1856.

Myron spent several years in California working in the gold fields with his brother Seth Tanner and then joined the family in San Bernardino in the fall of 1852.

Myron traveled several times between California and Utah Territory and finally returned to Utah  in 1856 and married Mary Jane Mount, a minor figure in the literary history of the state of Utah. He spent most of the rest of his life living in Payson and Provo, serving as a bishop in Provo for many years, and also marrying Englishwoman Ann Crosby.
Myron Tanner.

As previously mentioned, this daguerreotype remained in the Myron Tanner family, which would suggest that he is one of the subjects of the picture, but the fact of possession alone is not enough to make the identification, so we will continue to explore other possibilities in subsequent posts.

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: Summary


  1. Very interesting series! I just read all of them in order. Looking forward to the conclusion.

  2. Thank you, Sydney. It's been a real adventure, discovering all the details involved in identifying this daguerreotype.