Help, Please! Trying to Date an Old Photo

Help, Please!

Annie Grover

I’ve found that reviewing some of my old photos has been productive in identifying some of the subjects and returning these original photos to descendants.

This is one of my more annoying pictures because on the back is written “Annie Grover.” The problem is the only Annie Grover I can find wasn’t born until 1872 and, to me, this seems to clearly be a Civil War era photo.

Please confirm this for me. First, the square corners of the photo fit the 1860-1865 time period. Second, the two think gilt lines forming the border also fit the mid 1860s. Third, the full length portrait showcasing the full dress style is very Civil War time frame, as is posing with a chair as a prop. Fourth, Annie’s hair style, parted in the center and pulled tight with the braid or cap or whatever that is on her head is also quite in vogue for the time. In fact, I found a photo of a lady in one of my dating old photos books who had the exact same hair style with the cap(?) and the picture is dated 1865. Lastly, the off-the-shoulder dress seems to be a bit daring for the time and Annie’s apparent age, but there were ladies wearing that style in the 1860s. So, everything about the picture screams Civil War era.

However – I can’t find any Annie Grover born in the 1840s or 1850s who could be this young lady.

I know the Grover family. My cousin, Charles Chadwick, actually first cousin once removed and who passed away in 2006, was the grandson of Elbridge Gerry Chadwick and Margaret Jane Grover from St. George, Knox, Maine.

Margaret Jane Grover was born in November 1845 in St. George. My first thought was that Annie might have been Margaret’s sister and the timing would be a perfect fit. Lo and behold, Margaret only had two brothers, George H., born c1839 and Charles, born in 1843.

I don’t know what happened to George after 1860, when the family had moved north to Calais, but Charles returned to St. George, married, had a family and spent the rest of his life in his birthplace. Charles is the one who had a daughter named Annie Maude born in 1872.

Therefore, if I was two decades off in estimating the date of Annie’s photo, I would have my answer as to who she was. I don’t think I am wrong, though so I need to move back one generation with the thought that Annie Grover was Margaret’s cousin.

George, Charles and Margaret were the children of John Grover, born c1812, probably in Boothbay, Lincoln, Maine and Eunice Barter. There were quite a few Barters living in St. George in 1840 and Eunice was likely related to at least some of them. She died in Calais in 1863.

John Grover, in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses, reported an age consistent with a birth year of 1812, in Maine. John is attributed as a child of John Grover and Elizabeth Lortz in Lincoln County, Maine, which may be correct or not, but there are several John Grovers born in the 1810-1820 time frame living in Maine.

Therefore, I am stymied. However, readers – do you agree that Annie’s picture was taken in the 1860s?

Here’s one more final frustration. Along with Annie’s photo, I have a second picture apparently taken at the same time and place:

Meet young master Walter Grover. I can’t find him anywhere either! Double help!


6 thoughts on “Help, Please! Trying to Date an Old Photo”

  1. The dress at least is definitely from the late 1850s, early 1860s. Even though the woman isn’t wearing a crinoline in the picture, the silhouette is distinctive from that period with the fullness all around the skirt, as opposed to being concentrated around the back like the bustle styles from the 1870s and 1880s. In addition, the off-the-shoulder look was very common for the 1850s and 60s in evening wear. For example, the portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln taken in 1861 on her Wikipedia page. (She also is showing off that beautiful lace color as well.) You can see more examples here:
    In other words, I think your instincts are correct!

  2. I too thought 1860s as soon as I saw the photo (before reading your comments). Could Annie have been a nickname for another young woman in that family? Often the names people are given aren’t the ones they use in everyday life.

  3. Absolutely agree with your estimated period for this photo. One problem is the common names, often shared by cousins in same generation. During 1860s, possibly the family was split up if many male relatives were serving in Civil War and family couldn’t keep all children together. Maybe do a first-name-only search for census 1840-1850-1860 in possible areas they might have lived, see who’s in which households? Best of luck!

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