Thursday, October 16, 2014

Photographs Across The Generations -- How Far Can You Go? (October 16, 2014)

L to R:  Molly, Eulalie, Doreen and Jonathan (May 19, 1984)

Each week The Weekly Genealogist, newsletter of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), asks a survey question of its readers. This week the question is . . .

"What is the largest number of generations of your family pictured in a single photograph?"

The question led me to the photograph above, which shows four generations from our family in a single photograph. The snapshot was taken on May 19, 1984 -- just one week to the day after the birth of our first child, Jonathan. Pictured are Jonathan's great grandmother, Eulalie Jeffs; his grandmother, Doreen (Jeffs) O'Kane; and his mother, Molly (O'Kane) Tew. This photograph is the most recent of three such four-generation photographs I have been able to locate in our family photograph collection; the others involve earlier generations than depicted here.

On a related matter, this survey question led me to ponder another question, "What is the greatest number of generations back that I can go and still have a photographic depiction of an ancestor?" 

After a little research (and the very recent discovery of the photograph of an ancestor), I have determined that in eight instances our family can presently go back seven generations to photographs of: my sons' 4x great grandparents, Russell Cooke (b. 1810) and his wife Mary Vinal [Otis] Cooke (b. 1806); my sons' 4x great grandmother, Nancy Mason [Bullock] Carpenter (b. 1793); my sons'  4x great grandmother, Abby [Hunt] Miller (b. 1807); my sons' 4x great grandfather, William Wood (b. circa 1820); my sons' 4x great grandfather, Nathan Walker (b. 1808); and my sons' 4x great grandparents, John Bowen Shearman (b. 1799) and his wife Ann Eliza [Patt] Shearman (b. 1803). *
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Scan of the original snapshot in the family collection. 

*  And with the birth of our first grandchild within the next three weeks or so, the photographs of the named ancestors above will soon be extended back eight generations!
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Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. Phenomenal, John! ...and such a sweet photo. Congratulations all around. We have my daughter, me, Mom, and her mother in a photo. Some of these 4-generations depends on when the women married/had children. My grandmother was b. 1880 and not married until 1910, my mother not born until 1922... Hard to get them all alive at the one point in time. I love seeing your photographs - they are such treasures.