The photograph seems to date from mid 1860s to possibly the very early 1870s. The woman’s dress is from late in the Civil War. The evidence of the man’s striped vest and pants, his four-in-hand tie, and the use of the watch chain make it unlikely the photo was taken prior to 1870 unless he was well-to-do.
I’ve made the assumption that because the photograph was one of very few handed down in the family it is probably a direct ancestor of my uncle Jack. From the formal nature of the photograph evidenced by Mindy’s research, it is more than likely a wedding or engagement photograph; however, the lack of wedding bands leads to some question about this assessment.
For identification of the subjects in the photograph, the time period on which I will focus for this marriage to have occurred is around the end of the Civil War to the mid 1870s.
Jack’s paternal grandparents, William Cullen BRYANT and Ada Belle MEREDITH were married at Thompsonville, Benzie Co, MI 31 January 1899. William’s parents were Wooster Carpentier BRYANT and Juliette Augusta CONKLIN, married at Berrien Twp, Berrien Co, MI 19 September 1857. Neither of these marriages fit the time period.
Ada Belle’s parents were Charles Wesley MEREDITH and Sara M. HARRISON married at Greenleaf Twp, Sanilac Co, MI 14 September 1880. I have photographs of Wooster BRYANT, Charles and Sarah M. (HARRISON) MEREDITH, and they are not the people in this subject photograph. None of these marriages in Jack's paternal line are within the target date range.
Jack’s maternal grandparents, Eugene Martin TOWNSEND and Carrie Eugelia HOLBROOK were married 12 Oct 1892 in St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan. Eugene’s parents were Martin V. TOWNSEND and Ellen Marie EVANS, married at Lockport, Niagara Co, NY ca. 1871. Carrie’s parents were James Morse HOLBROOK and Eugelia N. TOWNSEND (a cousin of Martin V.), married at Hubbardston, Ionia Co, MI 3 July 1864.
So only two marriages of Jack’s direct ancestors took place in the time frame indicated by Mindy’s research – that of Martin V. TOWNSEND and Ellen Marie EVANS & that of James Morse HOLBROOK and Eugelia N. TOWNSEND. Martin was about 32 and Ellen about 22 at the time of their marriage in 1871. The photo does seem to indicate a difference in age, but probably not 10 years. I have recently been given a photograph of Martin and Ellen by a cousin and it shows different people than those in the subject photograph.
So this photograph must be that of James M. HOLBROOK and Eugelia N. TOWNSEND. James was 20 and Eugelia was 16 at the time of their marriage near the end of the Civil War in Hubbardston, MI.
Civil War era clothing experts, William and Glenna Jo Christen, spoke at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society in December, 2012. I showed Glenna Jo the photograph and without knowing particulars with this couple made some observations. First, the clothes indicated the couple were quite well off. Their attire was very stylish and she stated that the photo was taken absolutely no later than 1865. Glenna Jo also told me that the sleeves on Eugelia's dress were a hybrid pagoda, because the "coat cuffs" were somewhat unusual. Finally, she was certain that the couple in the photo had an intimate relationship because of the way they posed.
I think now I am certain of the identity of this couple! This is the ONLY photograph I have of my great great grandparents, James Holbrook and Eugelia Townsend.
Introduction The Man The Woman Conclusion
Bryant Genealogy Page Top Carrie Eugelia HOLBROOK Ancestry