Category Archives: Dating Old Photos

George Rogers Tarbox Family

Tarbox is one of those unique names, worthy of a One Name Study. Most people in the United States with this surname are all descended from John Tarbox, who was settled in Lynn, Massachusetts by the 1640’s.

My 3x great grandfather, George Rogers Tarbox, born 14 December 1818 in New Gloucester, Cumberland, Maine, married Mary Elizabeth Scripture, born 2 Dec 1827 in Mason, Hillsboro, New Hampshire on 29 November 1848 in Nashville, Hillsboro, New Hampshire.


       George Rogers Tarbox                           Mary Elizabeth Scripture

They were the parents of seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood, including my great great grandmother, Nellie F. Tarbox, born 28 June 1856 in Robbinston, Washington, Maine and died 23 December 1927 in Boston, MA. Her mother Mary died on 11 March 1866 and is buried at Calais Cemetery in Calais, Maine. Mary’s cause of death is unknown, but as her last surviving child was born in1863 and she was only 39 when she died, it is possible she died giving birth with neither she nor the baby surviving.

George owned a granite quarry in Red Beach, next to Calais. His sons and son-in-law Charles Vickery all worked as stone cutters and quarrymen. George died 27 January 1895 in Calais and, like many others in my family, is buried at Calais Cemetery.

I was given a treasure trove of old family photos in 1981, including the tintypes above of George and Mary and these below:

Here is my great great grandmother, Nellie, who married Calvin Segee Adams:

Nellie F. Tarbox Adams

Although this photo is from the side, Nellie has the same long oval shaped face as her mother. Nellie had an older sister, Elizabeth (called Lizzie) born 19 July 1851 in Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts. Lizzie married Charles Vickery and they, too, lived in Calais.

Here are photos that my cousin thought were of Lizzie and Charles when we viewed them together in 1981:

ChasVickeryMaybe     LizzieTarboxVickeryMaybe
Charles Vickery and Elizabeth Tarbox Vickery

Charles died at the young age of 53 on 22 January 1900 of tuberculosis; Lizzie outlived her sister Nellie by only five months, passing away on 27 May 1928.

Nellie and Lizzie’s youngest brother, Oliver Scripture Tarbox, was born 2 July 1863 in Robbinston and died 15 Jan 1924 in Calais. Oliver was named for his maternal grandfather. Here he is as a child:

OliverTarbox                                                   Oliver Scripture Tarbox

Oliver married Jenny Mingo, but they had no children. I have no photo of Oliver as an adult, but there is certainly a family resemblance to his brother, Charles:

Charles Franklin Tarbox

Charles, born 13 May 1859,  married Cleantha (Cannie) Cochran, born 23 April 1864, on 19 Oct 1881 in Milltown, New Brunswick, Canada, right over the border from Calais. They had four children and have numerous descendants today.

Here is Aunt Cannie (on the left) with a friend:

Cannie Cochran Tarbox (left)

Family lore is that Aunt Cannie was the first woman to have cataract surgery at Boston General Hospital, but I have never searched out records to determine if that is true!

The last Tarbox sibling is Horace W. Tarbox, born April 1861 in Robbinston. Horace died on 8 June 1914 of bronchial pneumonia in Sharon, Massachusetts. He married Elizabeth Eugenia Lane about 1880, probably in Calais. She was born 26 June 1859 in Calais and died 9 April 1947, also in Calais.

Horace and Elizabeth moved to Massachusetts shortly after the birth of their daughter, Elsie Venner Tarbox, in September 1881. They lived in Everett and Sharon and possibly in some other towns. I have no photo of Horace to share.

George and Mary Scripture Tarbox had two other children who died young. Mary Elizabeth, their first child, was born 24 Nov 1849, in Newburyport, Essex, MA. She died there on 23 September 1850. The other child they lost was a son, George Rogers Tarbox, born in 1853 in Maine and who died in Calais on 10 July 1864. There are no surviving photos of either of these children.

If there are other descendants of George R. Tarbox who read this post, I would love to share information and photos with you. Please post a comment.

Tomorrow, I will share a few photos of George Tarbox’s brother, Benjamin Franklin Tarbox, and his family.

Dating and Identifying Two Very Old Photos

I’ve written about my cousin, Charles Adams Chadwick, in a previous post. He passed on to me a number of old family photographs dating back to the 1850’s. Here are two of them:

Annie and Walter Grover, as inscribed on backs

The reverse side doesn’t have the photographer’s name, but there is a decorative imprint, which is the same on both photos.


19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark is a great resource for dating old photos. These photos are cartes de visite (commonly known as CDV photos), introduced in the United States about 1860 and very popular from the Civil War era to around 1880.

There is a third photograph that was placed in his mother’s album that is not inscribed. It is of a lady holding a child who is maybe about three years old. This photo does have the photographer’s name on the back – Fred A. Stoddard, Calais, Maine. There is also a one cent tax stamp on the back.

Grover1             Back of Photo

Annie’s and Walter’s photos are measure 2 3/8 inches by 4 inches, likely matching the dimensions of this third photo which had been trimmed slightly on the right front side. The height of the third photo is also 4 inches.

Gary Clark suggests eight clues to research in order to determine the age and date of CDV photos, which I followed:

1. Determine card thickness and size.

There are examples of card thicknesses in the book. All three of these photos match cards of the thinnest example, which were in use from 1858-1863. All cards appear to measure 2 3/8 inches by 4 inches, which were used from 1862-1869.

2. Examine the card borders and art work.

Annie’s and Walter’s photos have a two-line border with the lines of the same width. Those borders were in use from 1863-1864. The woman and child photo also has a two-line border, but the outer line is thicker than the inner line. That border was in use from 1864-1869.

3. Examine card edges, corners and color.

The card corners are all a bit worn, but appear to be square, used between 1861-1869. The card edges are all straight and plain, used 1861-1890. Paper color is natural, used between 1858-1890.

4. Inspect the photographer’s imprint.

Annie’s and Walter’s photos don’t include the photographer’s name, but have simple artwork, dating them from 1863-1869. The mother and child photo was taken by Fred A. Stoddard, Calais, Maine.

A check of the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Calais, Maine found Frederick A. Stoddard, ambrotypist, born about 1822 in Maine in 1860; in 1870, F.A. Stoddard, photographist was still living there.

5. Analyze the image size in the print. (Head and bust, seated and standing)

Standing and seated poses have been popular for a long time, so that doesn’t help any with these three photos.

6. Look for tax stamps.

The mother and child photo has the one cent tax stamp, used from March 1865 through August 1866.

7. Inspect clothes and styles for dating.

Annie’s dress was a popular style for young girls in the early 1860’s. Walter is also dressed in clothing typical of that time period. The lady holding the young child has a distinctive hair style, parted in the middle with long defined curls. That style exactly matches an 1866 example in Clark’s book. Her dress is partly hidden, but looks like mid 1860’s ladies’ styles.

8. Examine studio backgrounds and props.

Early prompts most often were just a dark background and perhaps a chair, a balustrade or a curtain. Annie’s photo has a chair, Walter’s has just the dark background and the woman with child is seated with a dark background and curtain. All three photos are reminiscent of the 1860’s time period.


Annie’s and Walter’s photos date from about 1863-1864, while the woman and child photo is clearly from March 1865-August 1866, based on the tax stamp. The photos were originally placed in the same section of Pearl Adams Chadwick’s photo album. Annie and Walter may be siblings, based on the very round shapes of their faces and the settings of their eyes. The child in the woman and child photo has the same round face as Annie and Walter and similarly set eyes. It is hard to tell from the woman’s face, but her eyes seem to be similar to those of the children. This may be a mother and her children.

With all these clues, who are these people? I don’t know!!!

Charles Chadwick’s maternal grandmother, Margaret Jane Grover, was born about 1846 in St. George, then Lincoln now Knox County, Maine. She had two siblings in the 1850 census – George H. born about 1839 and Charles, born about 1843. The family moved to Calais between 1850 and 1860 and were the only Grover family living there in the 1860 census. Margaret’s brothers are both too young to be the father of Annie or Walter. Margaret’s parents, John Grover and Eunice Barter, were born about 1812 and 1818, respectively. Young ladies in New England generally didn’t marry much before the age of 20. Even if Eunice had married when she was 16 and started having children by the age of 17, her oldest child would have been about 25 in 1860 and not old enough to be Annie’s father.

Another problem is that no Annie and Walter Grover can be found in Maine in 1860 or 1870.

A census check for Grovers in St. George in 1810 and 1820 shows one family, that of John Grover, who could be the father of John who married Eunice Barter. he had several brothers. A tentative hypothesis is that these children are cousins of Margaret Jane Grover.