A Mourning Photo? Questioning a Photo of Mary Elizabeth (Scripture) Tarbox

Thanks to Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge this past weekend, I took a much closer look at another very old family photo in my collection.

I am quite sure this photo of my 3X great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Scripture, because I have a couple of other tintypes of her husband, George Rogers Tarbox.

There is a second reason I believe this is Mary. Years ago, when I first saw it, there was such a similarity in the facial appearance to my 2X great grandmother, Nellie Tarbox Adams.

Nellie was Mary’s daughter, but this definitely isn’t Nellie. The woman’s clothing is very 1860s in style and Nellie was just a little girl at the time.

However, I mentioned that I took a really close look at this photo this weekend and I now a definite idea of exactly when this photo was taken.

Let me point out a few things about this picture:

  1. Mary’s eyes are closed. Today, we end up with lots of pictures taken with our eyes closed, but not so back then. The photographer would have taken several pictures and I doubt anyone would buy a picture of themselves with eyes closed.
  2. Look in the area of Mary’s right elbow. That looks like a wooden brace, not the back of a regular chair.
  3. Next, look at how straight (and somewhat unnatural looking) her left hand is as it is placed on top of her right hand.
  4. Lastly, look at the bottom of the photo. There are no legs to be seen or even the bottom of her dress.

In typical photos taken during the Civil War era, ladies showed off their stylish clothing by standing up, often in profile view, with an arm on a podium, or touching some other pieces of furniture.

There is one more detail to share – Mary Elizabeth (Scripture) Tarbox was born on 2 December 1827 died on 11 March 1866 in Calais, Washington, Maine, at the very young age of 38.

I am thinking that this may have been taken within a day or two of her death and that this is a mourning photo.

Please leave a comment – what do you think?

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