Sunday, April 10, 2011

Josiah Thomas Showalter & his family: a newly discovered photo

            Having been a professor in my pre-retirement avatar, I have been interested in the education of my ancestors. Back on January 6, 2011, I wrote a post about Josiah Thomas Showalter, my great-grandfather, and his family, quoting my father’s statement that all twelve children had received a college education. Knowing that some of them had graduated from Milligan College, in Tennessee, I made contact with an archivist there, Meredith Sommers, who has been extremely helpful in checking the facts. Milligan is in the process of putting its archives online; you can already access a number of interesting items at these websites: the Internet Archive; Milligan College’s history page, from which you can click to an archives page; and don’t overlook the gallery of old photos. I will soon publish a post on the Showalters and Milligan, but that is not the subject of this post.
            Meredith found, in a file of documents supposedly dated after 1950, the photograph below, and was kind enough to send it to me. Someone wrote in pencil at the top and on the back: “Showalter family”.  As in the photo of 1890 that I posted on January 6, and another of 1906 posted on February 20 with the story of the family reunion, the entire family was present. This one is not dated, but it must have been taken in 1883, because the youngest member of the family, Annie Beatrice Showalter, perched on her father’s knee between him and her mother, was born in June 1882.

Josiah Thomas Showalter family, 1883

            There is no key to the individuals, but knowing their approximate ages (given in parentheses) and their order of birth, and comparing them to other early photographs, I think they can be identified as follows:
            back row, standing, l to r: George Henry Pryor (13), Chester David Michael (17), Sarah Katherine (22), Amanda Louise (16)
            middle row, seated, l to r: Benjamin Winthrop (8), Edward Thomas (11), Josiah Wesley (14), Jennie Taylor (5), Annie Beatrice (1) sitting on the knees of her father Josiah Thomas (44), Sarah Catherine (Vaden) (41), Julia Rowlett (10)
            front row, seated, l to r: Milton Vaden (7), Alexander Merle (4)
Their exact birthdays are all given in my post of January 6th.
            The photographer, whose name is printed at the foot of the picture and on the back, was the same one who took the reunion photos in 1906. He probably also took the picture in 1890. His full name was William Hank Jewel (or Jewell). He was born August 10, 1848 in Floyd County, Virginia, and died September 10, 1919. He was married and had children. He is listed in a website about the Jewel family.
            It is not clear why this photograph was in the archives at Milligan College. As will be clear in my forthcoming post, the college played a large part in the lives of several of the Showalters, who in turn played a large and sometimes surprising role in the history of the college. But that does not explain why this photo would have made its way there.
            Finally, here is a cropped and enlarged version of the newly discovered photo, showing only the people, and copies of the other two family portraits for comparison:

Josiah Thomas Showalter family, 1883
Front Row, (left to right): Milton Vaden Showalter, Alexander Merle Showalter. Middle Row: Benjamin Winthrop Showalter, Edward Thomas Showalter, Josiah Wesley Showalter, Jennie Taylor Showalter, Josiah Thomas Showalter, Annie Beatrice Showalter, Sarah Catherine (Vaden) Showalter, Julia Rowlett Showalter. Back Row: George Henry Pryor Showalter, Chester David Michael Showalter, Sarah Katherine Showalter, Amanda Louise Showalter

Josiah Thomas Showalter family, c. 1890
Front Row (left to right): Annie Beatrice Showalter, Alexander Merle Showalter. 2nd Row: Jennie Taylor Showalter, Chester David Michael Showalter, Josiah Thomas Showalter, Sarah Catherine (Vaden) Showalter, Amanda Louise Showalter. 3rd row: Benjamin Winthrop Showalter, Julia Rowlett Showalter, Milton Vaden Showalter, Sarah Katherine Showalter, Josiah Wesley Showalter, Back row: George Henry Pryor Showalter, Edward Thomas Showalter

Josiah Thomas Showalter family, August 1906
 Front Row (left to right): Sarah Katherine (Showalter) Dudley, Josiah Thomas Showalter, Sarah Catherine (Vaden) Showalter, Julia Rowlett (Showalter) Massie, Benjamin Winthrop Showalter. Back Row: Jennie Taylor Showalter (later Randolph), Milton Vaden Showalter, Edward Thomas Showalter, Annie Beatrice Showalter (later Brown), Chester David Michael Showalter, Josiah Wesley Showalter, Alexander Merle Showalter, Amanda Louise (Showalter) Whitt, George Henry Pryor Showalter

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