Monday, June 2, 2014

A Picture of Samuel Shepherd and Charity Bates Swarthout Shepherd?

Tanner Family

Last fall Gary and Ardyn Fredericksen put this picture on Ancestry. I saw it last week and was intrigued.

None of us in this branch of the family had ever seen a picture of Samuel Shepherd, a veteran of the War of 1812, Mormon pioneer, and original settler of San Bernardino, California.

Ardyn is a descendant of Charity Bates and her first husband, Philip Swarthout.

After Philip died and after Samuel Shepherd's first wife, Roxie Ray, died, Charity and Samuel blended their large families and had a 42-year marriage before they both died of old age in 1877.

The note attached to the picture says:
I believe this to be Charity Bates Swarthout Shepherd and Sam Shepherd. This was the oldest picture in the family photos and after talking to other surviving members of the Shepherd family (living in Utah), they had this same photo.
And an additional note in Ancestry says:
See the note about the identification of the photograph. Charity's daughter, Lucinda, looks so much like her. The photo was in the collection of a direct descendent.
As with the identification of the historical Christensen and Tanner pictures — and proposed daguerreotypes of Joseph Smith; see (Rumor-Mongering: Joseph Smith Daguerreotype) and (And Yet Another Joseph Smith Photograph) — there are several techniques to identify the subjects of historical but unlabeled photographs, including the following considerations.

What is the provenance of the picture? (Who owns it and why?)
The photograph belongs to a direct descendant of Charity Bates Swarthout Shepherd. She and her husband have been very helpful in answering my questions about the family and the photograph, and the reported chain of ownership makes sense and does not contain any clues or red flags that would suggest that the subjects of the photo were any other of their ancestors.

The Fredericksens contacted an elderly Shepherd descendant in Utah and got confirmation that a descendant of Samuel also owned a copy of this picture. 

Is the technology appropriate to the time?
Yes. The picture would have to have been taken before 1877 when Samuel and Charity died. A look at the Pioneers of San Bernardino collection shows a number of similar photographs from around 1870, and they resemble the photograph in technology, detail, architecture, and vegetation.

Butcher Shop of T. F. Allen on Third Street in San Bernardino, c. 1875. Source.

San Bernardino Deluge Hose Co. 2, c. 1860-1870. Source.

Were there daguerreotypists or photographers operating in the area at the time?
Yes. See above.

Were the people being identified in the area at the time?
Yes. The Shepherds lived in San Bernardino almost continually from 1851 until they died in 1877.

1870 US Census, San Bernardino, Samuel and Charity Shepherd.

Any family resemblances? Do the ages of the people in the photograph seem to be accurate?
Yes. Both people in the picture could be in their 70s or 80s.

Here is a comparison of the subjects. First is the man in the photo followed by photos of Samuel's children; next the woman in the photo followed by photos of Charity's children. Samuel and Charity had one daughter; her photo is at the end.

Note shape of face, head, brow, noses and chin; distance between nose and mouth; male facial hair; coloring; etc.

Shepherd Family

Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd (1830-1909) c. 1900.  From FamilySearch.
Marcus deLafayette Shepherd (1824-1904). From FamilySearch.
Julia Ann Shepherd Tanner (1829-1899). From FamilySearch.

Swarthout Family

George Washington Swarthout (1817-1872). From Ancestry.
Lucinda Swarthout (1818-1895) and her husband James Coburn (1815-1898), San Bernardino.
A close-up of Lucinda.
Nathan Swarthout (1823-1903), San Bernardino Public Library.
Hamilton Swarthout (1828-1894), San Bernardino Public Library.

Daughter of Samuel and Charity

Lydia Shepherd Davidson (1836-1929), from Ancestry.

So are there family resemblances? Very definitely.

What can the clothing tell us about when the picture was taken?
Melinda Bowers is a graphic designer with a specialty in historical clothing design. She blogs at Heritage Paper Dolls.

She noted that even on the frontier, people kept up to date on fashions and the women made or altered clothing based on fashion journals, so if clothing appears to belong to a certain era, it most likely does. 

She said the following about this picture:
This dress in actually a little closer to the 1860s in style than the 1870s. In the 60s, dresses had that sloping shoulder look (think civil war era) and wider type sleeves for dressy dresses, but loose sleeves for everyday wear. Can you see the dropped shoulder on the dress? The shoulder seams are down off the natural shoulder, giving the bodice a sort of upside-down triangle look that is fitted, gathered, or pleated above the waistline. The skirt is hard to see, but the shape is a dome shape (1860s) rather than a bell shape (1870s-80s). By the 1880s, dresses were very much bell shaped, with a flared bottom, and usually drawn up into a bustle, although the work dresses wouldn't have been, since that is so impractical. But the work dresses would still have been more narrow in the 1880s than in the 1860s and early 70s. Also in the 80s, the sleeves would be more form fitting, not nearly as loose as these sleeves are.
I also have found patterns on cloth from that era similar to her dress, but I can't see the pattern very well. The pattern appears to be more similar to ones from the 1860s rather than the 70s.

What other details help locate the picture and identify the subjects?
The new England frame house in the photograph is consistent with Samuel and Charity's birthplace of Vermont and time in the Northwest Territory, Midwest, and California. All the materials showing in the house should be available in California at the time. The house, including the clapboards, resembles the one in the later picture of Lucinda and James Coburn. The vegetation including the small evergreen and fruit trees (note the grafting), are consistent with the picture being located in San Bernardino. Samuel's pipe is consistent with his history.

I agree with the Fredericksens that this appears to be a photograph of Samuel and Charity. Many thanks to them for putting this picture online!

So, any thoughts? Additional details you see? Is that a child standing in the doorway? If you arrive at this post by web search, have you seen a copy of this picture in the family before? Where? Were identifications included?

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