Mrs. Lizzie Ferity – A Total Mystery

Who Is She?

UnknownCivilWarWoman1
Mrs. Lizzie Feritiy

I actually know who she is because written in a shaky hand and in pencil that is quite faded is “Mrs. Lizzie Feritiy.” The shaky handwriting could belong to either an elderly person or perhaps someone who wasn’t very literate. If literacy was the issue, then “Feritiy” is likely a misspelling and should instead be something like “Ferrity” or “Feritty.”

There are no markings on this photo to indicate a photographer or a place where it was taken, but most likely, it was taken in Maine, Massachusetts or maybe possibly in New Brunswick, Canada. It is in the collection of photos I inherited from cousin Charles Chadwick, who inherited it from his own mother, Vera Pearl Adams Chadwick.It seemed to be grouped with Tarbox family photos, which makes the location more likely to be Maine or Massachusetts, in that order.

When was the photo taken? It is small, measuring 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches. My dating old photo reference books say that borderless photos of this type on thin card stock (on which the photo is mounted) likely date from 1858-1863. This is a carte de visite or CDV.

There is an example in one of the books of a woman in a flowing Civil War gown who is posed in a very similar way. The dress looks like a duplicate of Lizzie’s gown except Lizzie has no large white cuffs at the ends of her sleeves.

Lizzie’s hair style is also an exact match to the woman in the sample photo – parted down the middle and pulled tightly around the head. This hair style remained popular through the Civil War years.

Such a close match to a sample photo makes me quite confident that Lizzie’s picture was taken during the Civil War.

Lizzie is a young woman here, definitely not older than 25 and probably closer to 20. This might even have been taken near the time of her marriage since the inscriber called her “Mrs.” Lizzie then was probably born in the 1835-1845 time frame.

The mystery is that I can’t find anyone anywhere who might be her. Ferrity in whatever spelling is not common. I’ve looked before and had no luck. Today, though, I might have found a clue. A Hannah Ferrity appears in the 1876 city directory of Lewiston and Auburn, Maine.

Hannah was not Lizzie and she was a widow, but where there is one Ferrity, there might well be some others, including Lizzie.

George Tarbox, my 3x great grandfather, had a brother Benjamin Franklin Tarbox who lived in Farmington, Maine and then later, Lewiston. Perhaps Lizzie Feritiy/Ferrity was an acquaintance George and his wife met while visiting brother Ben’s family. Lizzie would have been the right age to receive these Tarbox family members as social callers.

However, I am still being met by frustration. Hannah Ferrity is listed in the city directories up to 1880, but she isn’t found in the 1880 census. I’ve tried wildcard searches and then looked at all the Hannahs living in Lewiston in 1880. None of them has a surname even close to Ferrity. No Ferrity is found in 1860 or 1870, either.

No where can I find any reference to an Elizabeth, Lizzie, Hannah, Anna or Joanna who married a Ferrity, but Hannah is still my best lead. Ferrity is an Irish surname and isn’t terribly common in the 1860-1880 time period.

Do you have any suggestions for me? I really want to know who Mrs. Lizzie Feritiy was.

One thought on “Mrs. Lizzie Ferity – A Total Mystery”

  1. Which dating photographs book do you have?

    I have so many unknown photos, I need to focus on them and figure out who they are —I’m sure it won’t get any easier the longer I let them sit.

    It sounds like you’ve found a good hint on tracking her though.

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