Thursday, March 22, 2012

For The Love of Tintypes

{many of these tintypes were found at the Library of Congress
& some are favorites from pinterest}

I LOVE Tintypes...
everything about them fascinates me.

They are a frozen moment in time, that can never be duplicated.

Looking into the eyes of each subject, I can't help but try &
imagine what thought crossed their mind at
the instant the image was taken.

There's something magical about these tiny pieces of metal...

these bits of history, no bigger then a couple of inches,
& yet the stories they tell are priceless.

The stories are in their eyes.

The eyes of a child...

& the eyes of a solider.

Each story is there to be found,

if you just look closely enough.

I ADORE this one, she tells me exactly what she's thinking.
Our little civil war girl does NOT like the photographer & most certainly
does not want to be sitting still for so long, she's just plain mad!
Oh, but look at that exquisite dress & her ringlets.

Someone had made a comment on this picture that I thought was perfection...
'the oldest child is the peacemaker, you can tell it by the gentleness
in her face, but the other two are strong willed & a handful.'

Like I said, perfection.

Maybe one of the reasons I love these images so much is because it
didn't happen in second. The subject needed to stand motionless
for a couple of minutes & in those silent moments, I think
the true nature of their feelings was captured.

Some of humor...

some of joy...

& some of sorrow.
Did you know in the Victorian era it was common for loved ones in
mourning to have their backs turned to the camera. It's not to
show their hairstyles, but to show their loss.

There were actually 3 different types of photography during the early to late
1800's. Daguerreotypes were made on copper, Ambrotypes
were made on glass & Tintypes were made on iron.

The process for the first two types was quite expensive, making the cost prohibitive
for most families. These images were mainly taken by the middle class & the rich. 

One common practice during the Victorian era, was to have an image taken
of a loved one who was deceased. Since most people couldn't
afford to have pictures taken, this may have been the only
image they would have of that special someone.

We take photographs for granted now shooting away on our cell phones,
ipads & digital cameras. We skpe with our loved ones, never feeling too
far away. To think back to a time when the only image you may have
had of your child is once they've passed away, is heartbreaking.

When the Tintype came out, the process was much less
expensive making it a little more affordable to the masses.

They could be produced quickly, even while you waited. Photographers started setting
up shop at carnivals, fairs or other places where lots of people would gather.

What must they have thought when they had a memory to hold
in their hand for the very first time?

And now, they are my history book...

in each image I see their hopes & dreams.
I see where they've been...

& how far they've come.

Those tiny, scratched pieces of metal give me pride in the past...

& hope for the future.

I'm a romantic at heart...

can you tell?

As far as I'm concerned, these images can never belong to one person,
they belong to the hands of time as a reminder of our shared past.
Just touching them gives me a sense of history.

I LOVE that for the movie 'Cold Mountain', they made Tinypes of
Nicole Kidman as Ada...

& Jude Law as W.P. Inman bringing these fictional characters to life.
I LOVE Tintypes!


Monday, March 19, 2012

My American Story & Vintage Family Records

Happy Monday Friends...
Looking outside this morning, we are blanketed in snow.
A weekend storm blew through, which left us looking like
a winter wonderland. This winter has been mild though, so I can't
complain, but as soon as I finish writing this post I've got to get
busy & start SHOVELING!!! Can I get an

If you follow me with any regularity, you already know I change from
one addiction to another in the blink of an eye. So for now, bye bye
soldering, Facebook & Pinterest & hello!

I've been really enjoying the NBC show sponsored by,
After watching a few of these episodes, they had me hooked & I
wanted to find out as much as I could about my heritage
& where I came from.

Luckily for me, my family has always talked about our history, so
I had a lot of information to start out with. I KNEW my Great-
Grandmother Grace, I stayed with her in Illinois for 2 months one
summer after my freshmen year. When my daughter was born,
we took a five generation picture. Not many people can say that
& I feel very blessed to have known her & loved her.

I had also spent some time on Ancestry a few years back & already had
many of the basics I needed for my research. So now I just needed
to sit down & do the work, connect the dots &
follow the yellow brick road.

My main goal was to find a relative that fought in the Revolutionary War.
I have always wanted to be a DAR, but I never expected to find almost
every line on my father's Brewer side, leading me back to the English Colonies
& then straight back to England. There is even a parish there near the
town of Chard called Isle Brewers...I mean come on now, that's COOL! 

I was excited to find the Pension filed by my fifth great-grandfather
for fighting during The Battle of 1812.

I knew we had Civil War connections, but I could never
quite pin it down to who & to what side we fought for.
Now I know & so continues, My American Story.

My third Great~Grandfather William was born in Washington County,Virginia.
He fought in the Civil War on the side of the confederates in the
Virginia Militia & was a part of the Battle of Knoxville.

His son John, my second Great~Grandfather married Estella Spenny, who's
father & uncle were born in Illinois & fought for the Union in the Civil War.
Stephen & William Spenny spent 3 years in the Illinois 2nd Battery.

So, my Great, Great Grandpa John's dad was a confederate &
my Great, Great Grandma Stella's dad was a federalist
& they fell in love & married & had children,
that lead right here to me.

Truly an American Story...

& looking at all the hero's in my family tree, including my Father,
a reminder that, Freedom does NOT come Free!

I hope you enjoy these images of vintage Family Records,
all found through The Library of Congress.
How appropriate, right!

For me, doing this kind of research is like being the family detective.
Hunting down clues, looking for confirmation on a hunch
& sometimes, chasing ghosts.

But I am the keeper of the past...
the holder of the archives...
the memory of a family.

It's what I do,
it's what I've always done.

I look to the future in the hope that another generation will
follow me & find value in these things, as I do. That they too
will want to know more about where they came from &
will continue to tell the stories of our American Family.
Maybe they will even remember a distant grandmother who's
great, great grandparents were the children of men who
fought in the Civil War for the North & the South,
proving that in the end, we are all just American's.