Genealogy Ramblings

Captain John Linton?

His Son, Benjamin Franklin LintonFor many years, many descendants have considered this the picture of “Captain John Linton”.  Alas, recent research into the history of photography in America, and of the men’s dress for their photographs, has convinced me that the man in the picture could not have been Captain John.  (The photo was in the family pictures that I inherited, and therefore at least would have been one of his male descendants.  But not him.) Captain John died in 1836, and photography did not reach America until 1839 in the form of the Daguerreotype process.

I have the book Dressed for the Photographer, Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa – a wonderful help in trying to date old photos.  The style of suit is similar to the decade of the 1850’s.  The Captain had three sons that lived in this time period – Moses, Benjamin Franklin and William (the youngest).  We can eliminate William since he would have been sixty years of age.  Moses would have been 82 in 1854 when he died and Benjamin would have been 77.  Since I have three of the exact same photos in my possession I would have to surmise that the picture is of Benjamin – since they would have come from his daughters that married into the Edwards family, and therefore handed down the line to my great-grandmother.  One of his descendants from Logan County, Kentucky, also has the very same picture.  He always considered this a photo of the Captain.

Other reasons helped to persuade me, but I considered the timing as to photography by itself as a sufficient basis for my conclusion — reluctant as I was to reach it.  Nevertheless, this still gives us a picture of a member of Captain John’s family.  The photo certainly generates in the viewer an image that, by virtue of a family resemblance, could well be a generalized idea of what Captain John really did look like.

1 reply »

  1. Seriously?! That’s so crazy! We grew up with that picture on the wall, thinking it was him…now I’m really curious as to who he is!

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