Mystery Lady: A Young Girl from c1870

Who is this unknown young lady? She is all dressed up in her Sunday/visiting best, complete with a cute hat and a necklace.

This tintype is very small, measuring a bit under 2 inches by 1 1/2″ inches. This size closely fits the description of a sixteenth plate in terms of tintype sizes. It was in vogue from 1862-1875. I have several books that give examples on how to date old photos. The red lines enhancing the oval image and the border were popular in the 1870s, which fits right in with the size of the tintype.

Part of her clothing is hidden by the paper casing:

Her sleeves are narrow at the shoulder and then puff out quite a bit along the length of her arm. This is another clue that points the date of this picture to the late 1860s-1870ish.

I’m not very good at figuring out ages from photos, but I think she looks like she might be a young teen,  about 14 or 15 years old – not a child anymore, but not yet of marriageable age. What do you think?

If she was born c1850 and was a family member, there are a lot of people she could be!

This is just a guess – a total guess –  on my part, but take a look at this photo:

This is a photo from about the same era and I suspect that this is one of Mary Elizabeth (Scripture) Tarbox’s six brothers. (She also had five sisters.) He and the young girl seem to have a similar shaped face and nose.

My (great grand) Aunt Pearl was the owner of these pictures. Mary Elizabeth, who died in 1866,  would have been her grandmother. Pearl’s mother, Nellie Tarbox Adams, was the next keeper of these items and it makes sense that she would treasure photos from her mother’s side of the family. (Mary Elizabeth’s family lived in Glenburn, Penobscot, Maine, about 125 miles away.)

Thoughts? Or am I just hoping and dreaming?

What is a bit unique about the young lady’s photo is that it is one half of a duo:

I’d say pretty much for sure that these ladies are mother and daughter.

This lady, with her hair tightly parted down the center is sporting a hairstyle popular during the Civil War. However, she is also wearing a prominent choker necklace, as is the young girl. The choker was very much in vogue in the early 1870s.

Both the older and younger ladies are wearing identical collars with chokers. Both have some type of large bows hanging below those crisp white collars, too. The pointed collars on their blouses were quite fashionable in the early 1870s.

All of these clues suggest the photo was taken around 1870, give or take a couple of years, but not long after the end of the Civil War.

I’m also fairly sure, because of my ancestral lines, that they lived in Maine and very likely in Washington County, somewhere near Calais.

The question is – were they part of the Adams, Tarbox, Scripture, Chadwick, Grover or Meserve families? The Chadwick, Grover and Meserve families are collateral lines off the Adams group through my grandfather’s cousin, Charles Chadwick. With the exception of Charles’s father, Perce, who married my great grandfather’s sister, Pearl Adams, these families aren’t related to me even by marriage.

Charles had no idea who they were, as we discussed unmarked photos that had belonged to his mother.

Charles and Linda, July 1980 in Providence, Rhode Island

Having these matching photos, likely taken in tandem, of an apparent mother and daughter, though, makes me think they were probably family members and not just social friends.

If you are related to any of these Washington County, Maine families and see a family resemblance to your own lines, please contact me.




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