Time Flies

By Maureen A. Taylor

I couldn’t help but use this as the title. It sums up the clues in this week’s picture.

Nance Family Pictureedit.jpg

Look carefully. The man in the photo holds an open pocket watch in his right hand and has a rooster on his lap. It appears he’s trying to convey something about time. It’s a triple-mystery.

Sarah Swanner and her mother spent some time over the holidays scanning pictures and stumbled across this mystery image. They have no idea who the man is, where his picture was taken, or what the story is.

(An aside on scanning, I recommend setting the resolution at 600 dpi and saving as a tiff, but a 300-dpi tiff file will provide a good quality reproduction. More on scanning next week.)

All Sarah and her mother know is that this image once belonged Walter Nance, who was married to Sarah’s great-grand-aunt Evelyn Dantzler. That’s a start!

The white card style was extremely popular in the last years of the 1880s and throughout the 1890s. There is room at beneath the image for the photographer to include his studio name, but instead of personalizing the cards, he left it blank. It’s an odd photo for a studio or an itinerant photographer.

There were folks who owned their own photo equipment, so I wonder if this isn’t an amateur picture—one friend clowning for the other who’s taking the picture.

The rocks in the background are covered in lichen and there is a type of plant growing on the left. Any geologists out there? Please weigh in on the type of rock. That might help solve the mystery of where this was taken.

I think the image was taken circa 1890. That’s based on the type of suit he’s wearing and the pin in his tie. Those types of pins were very popular in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Plus men tied their neckties with this particular style knot during that period.

The pin is interesting. Is it just a decorative pin or is it a clue that this man belonged to a fraternal organization? I’ll be looking for something in this shape. Hope to be able to report back next week. I think it’s a fraternal symbol and have some ideas.

The next step is for Sarah to figure out which relatives and family friends were living in the 1890s period. It’s important to remember that this man could be a friend rather than a relative.

You can preserve your family’s photo stories and share them with future generations in the book Family Tree Legacies: Preserving Memories Throughout Time.