Fraternal Clues (and more) in an Old Tintype Photo

By Maureen A. Taylor

There is so much to love about this old tintype photo:

  • The pose and the people are a story waiting to be told. She sits with her arm on his shoulder in a comfortable and personal way. It states that he’s her husband.
  • Look at the way his hair sticks out from the sides of his head.

He wore a hat at some point. Yup! That’s 19th-century hat hair.

  • Their direct gaze makes the viewer connect with them. It’s like they are here with us.
  • The sash he wears signifies a fraternal membership. Which one? He could be a Mason, but he lacks the traditional apron. Did you notice the slight yellow coloring present in the sash? Lovely!

So who are they? That’s the question. This tintype image dates from the 1860s.

Could they be John McIntosh (1810-1898), born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and his wife Isabella Rutherford (1806-1894), born in Arngask, Fife, Scotland? Both are members of the photo submitter’s family.

I don’t think so. For one simple reason:

They aren’t old enough. In the early 1860s, both husband and wife would be in their 50s. This couple is too young.

Next week, I’ll compare some other folks in the family and see if the facts add up.

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now