Old Photo Mystery: Amos & Vianna Hamby, or Not?

Many years ago, a descendant of Amos and Vianna Palmer Hamby shared copies of photos he said were of the couple when they were first married. I excitedly saved this unexpected treasure and Eugene, the gentleman who so kindly shared the pictures, has long since passed away.

I knew very little about dating old photos back then and I took Eugene at his word when he said they were the Hambys. The originals had been in his family for a long time.

Recently, though, I took another look at the pictures and the clothing styles seem to date the couple to an era that doesn’t match the ages they would have been at that time.

Amos HambyVianna Palmer Hamby
Reportedly Amos and Levina (aka Vianna) (Palmer) Hamby – or Not!

Amos Hamby was born about 1802 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Vianna Palmer was born about 1805, probably in Kentucky. They married on 1 January 1822 in Christian County, Kentucky.

A previous post dealt with the mystery of who Abraham Palmer, father of Vianna, was.

I agree with cousin Eugene that this couple is fairly young and the photos might have been taken not long after they married. However, with an 1822 marriage date, we have the first clue that these people aren’t Amos and Vianna.

Second, I don’t have the original photos and don’t know who does have them today. However, they appear to have been mounted on an oval shaped frame and were not tintypes so I think these pictures are from an era closer to 1870.

Next, I looked at the lady’s hairstyle. A part down the middle with hair pulled tightly back was popular throughout the 1860’s and 1870’s.

I can’t tell much from their clothing. The gentleman is well dressed with both a vest and jacket, but no tie. The woman’s sleeves are straight with the cuff of her blouse extending past her sleeve. Her blouse has an elaborate, bulky bow made of fabric that has some kind of ridging in it.

I am far from an expert at dating old photos, but I have a sense that these were taken either in the 1860’s or maybe even early 1870’s.

Amos and Vianna Hamby’s daughter, Martha married Samuel Henry Perkins in 1841. The Perkins men seemed to have narrow, angular faces. Martha Hamby looks like she could have some Native American in her, but I don’t think she did. The couple above looks nothing like either of them, nor do they look like any of the rest of the family in the group photo.

Sam & Martha Perkins
Samuel and Martha are the older couple in center

Eugene was a direct descendant of Samuel and Martha Perkins, as is my husband. He insisted that they were the Hambys. Perhaps they are, but they aren’t Amos and Vianna. I would love to hear from those who know more about this than I do. Is the 1860’s time frame accurate? How old do you this this couple is? Please leave a comment.

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