Tag Archives: Amos Hamby

Old Photo Mystery: Amos & Vianna Hamby, or Not?

Many years ago, a descendant of Amos and Vianna Palmer Hamby shared copies of photos he said were of the couple when they were first married. I excitedly saved this unexpected treasure and Eugene, the gentleman who so kindly shared the pictures, has long since passed away.

I knew very little about dating old photos back then and I took Eugene at his word when he said they were the Hambys. The originals had been in his family for a long time.

Recently, though, I took another look at the pictures and the clothing styles seem to date the couple to an era that doesn’t match the ages they would have been at that time.

Amos HambyVianna Palmer Hamby
Reportedly Amos and Levina (aka Vianna) (Palmer) Hamby – or Not!

Amos Hamby was born about 1802 in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Vianna Palmer was born about 1805, probably in Kentucky. They married on 1 January 1822 in Christian County, Kentucky.

A previous post dealt with the mystery of who Abraham Palmer, father of Vianna, was.

I agree with cousin Eugene that this couple is fairly young and the photos might have been taken not long after they married. However, with an 1822 marriage date, we have the first clue that these people aren’t Amos and Vianna.

Second, I don’t have the original photos and don’t know who does have them today. However, they appear to have been mounted on an oval shaped frame and were not tintypes so I think these pictures are from an era closer to 1870.

Next, I looked at the lady’s hairstyle. A part down the middle with hair pulled tightly back was popular throughout the 1860’s and 1870’s.

I can’t tell much from their clothing. The gentleman is well dressed with both a vest and jacket, but no tie. The woman’s sleeves are straight with the cuff of her blouse extending past her sleeve. Her blouse has an elaborate, bulky bow made of fabric that has some kind of ridging in it.

I am far from an expert at dating old photos, but I have a sense that these were taken either in the 1860’s or maybe even early 1870’s.

Amos and Vianna Hamby’s daughter, Martha married Samuel Henry Perkins in 1841. The Perkins men seemed to have narrow, angular faces. Martha Hamby looks like she could have some Native American in her, but I don’t think she did. The couple above looks nothing like either of them, nor do they look like any of the rest of the family in the group photo.

Sam & Martha Perkins
Samuel and Martha are the older couple in center

Eugene was a direct descendant of Samuel and Martha Perkins, as is my husband. He insisted that they were the Hambys. Perhaps they are, but they aren’t Amos and Vianna. I would love to hear from those who know more about this than I do. Is the 1860’s time frame accurate? How old do you this this couple is? Please leave a comment.

Exactly Who Is Abraham Palmer?

Abraham Palmer gave written permission for his daughter,  Vianna Palmer,  to marry Amos Hamby on 1 January 1822 in Christian County, Kentucky. Other than that one piece of paper, not a shred a evidence has been found to document him.

Amos Hamby was born about 1802, probably in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Vianna or Vina, as she later called herself,  Palmer was born about 1805, probably in Kentucky. They were married on 1 January 1822 in Christian County, Kentucky after permission was given by both the bride and groom’s fathers since they were both underage. Both documents are filed with the Christian County, Kentucky county clerk’s office.

Permission to Marry from John Hamby

To the Clark of Christian County

Sir, Please to issue from your office marriage
License to my Son Amos Hamby to be joined
in matrimony to miss Viana Palmer
Sir, I am Yr (VC?)
John Hamby
December 31, 1821

Amos was the son of John and Bradbrook Hamby who migrated from South Carolina to Kentucky. Much has been found about the Hamby family.

Permission to Marry from Abraham Palmer

To the Clark of Christian County

Sir, Please to issue from Yr Office marriage
License for my Daughter Vianna Palmer to be
Joined in matrimony to mr. Amos Hamby
Sir I am Yr VC
Abraham Palmer
Jan. 1st 1822

The first thing I noticed is that while each letter of permission was written one day apart, they are in the same handwriting, including the signature. Amos Hamby wasn’t literate – he signed his marriage bond with an X – and I doubt that John Hamby was literate either.

I wonder whether John Hamby and Abraham Palmer were at their children’s weddings? Why aren’t the notes signed with an X?

Apart from that odd situation, NO OTHER RECORD has been found to document the existence of Abraham Palmer.

First, I checked the 1820 census for Abraham Palmer. There are only eight Abraham Palmers in the whole country. They all live in the Northeast and there are no heads of household named Palmer in Christian County.

Okay, maybe he moved to Kentucky between the 1820 census and his daughter’s marriage. In 1830, there are thirteen Abraham Palmers in the whole country and none in Kentucky.

There were six Palmer households in the county – Lewis D., Isaac, Alpheus, Drury, Mary and Charles C. Through the years, I have looked closely at these six households.

Isaac Palmer was a Revolutionary War pensioner who died in his 90’s on 24 April 1843 in Christian County. The only Alpheus Palmer I could find outside of Kentucky was in Connecticut. He could be the man in Christian County, but he was born in the mid 1790’s. I had originally thought that someone misread or incorrectly wrote “Abraham” for “Alpheus” but he is too young to be Vianna’s father. Lewis is reportedly the son of Isaac Palmer. Drury was born 1810-1820 so could be Vianna’s brother. Charles was also born 1810-1820. Mary is 50-59 years old and is old enough to be Vianna’s mother. I can find no mention of Abraham or Vianna and no clues that might link Vianna and her father to these other families.

Okay, maybe he moved to Kentucky just before his daughter’s marriage and moved on by 1830 to who knows where?

Next stop: land deeds. There is no Abraham Palmer buying or selling land in Christian County, Kentucky at all.

I moved on to the tax rolls, which are quite good for Kentucky. No Abraham Palmer ever appears on them, even in 1821 and 1822 when he was supposedly living in Christian County.

Maybe he didn’t own land and didn’t pay taxes, but died in Christian County. Nope, no will, probate or estate inventory filed for an Abraham Palmer.

By 1830, Amos and Vianna Hamby had moved on to Livingston County, Kentucky, which is just a short distance to the west of Christian County. No, there aren’t any Palmer families in that whole county in 1830 so none of her male relatives (if she had any) moved on with them.

In short, the only proof that Abraham Palmer ever existed is the permission letter, clearly written by someone else, allowing Vianna to marry Amos Hamby.

Lastly, I compared all the Abraham Palmers in the 1820 U.S. census with those in the 1830 census. That didn’t help much. The 1820 census includes Abrahams in the following counties: Mifflin, PA, Berkshire, MA, two in Columbia, NY, Somerset, ME, Baltimore, MD, Bradford, PA and Litchfield, CT.

In 1830, there were a few more in the following counties: 2 in Dutchess, NY, 2 in Columbia, NY, St. Lawrence, NY, 2 in Richland, OH, Hamilton, OH, Dutchess, NY, Greene, NY, Jefferson, TN, Litchfield, CT and West Feliciana, LA.

The only two Abrahams in the south, in Tennessee and Louisiana, were both too young to be Vianna’s father.

In my “reasonably exhaustive search” recommended in the best practices standards, which I refer to as “leave no stone unturned,” I have done just that in Christian County.

I welcome suggestions on where next to look. I am beginning to think that Abraham Palmer dropped in from outer space.