Charlie Birchfield Farmer was a farmer. He stands in front of a barn and an old wheel. Tucked into his overalls is a pistol, and slung across his chest is a canteen for when he got thirsty working in the fields.
Farmer was born in 1885 in northeast Tennessee and lived in southwest Virginia. This image depicts him in the early part of the 20th century. as a young man, so I’d estimate this was taken before 1910. Any gun experts out there want to take a look at his pistol? That could narrow the time frame even further.
Photographs could appear on any type of surface that could be coated with light-sensitive chemicals, such as metal, leather, fabric and porcelain. In this case, it’s a metal frame.
The most unusual part of the image wasn’t its setting, but the letters and symbols surrounding Farmer’s portrait. David wants to know what the letters FLT mean.
The interlocking three rings at the top of the frame indicate Farmer was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the FLT—that stands for the group’s slogan, “Friendship, Love, Truth.”
If you have an image of an ancestor in a fraternal costume, send it in. I’ll feature it in an upcoming column.