Monday, November 24, 2014

More myth busting

James Tanner posted one of the best blog posts I have read in a long time.  Take a look at Moving Beyond Myths.  I am going to piggyback his post and present my own photo example.  

If you do a search on for Silas Simmons and his wife Janet you will see this picture on many trees.


Silas Simmons was born abt. 1794 in South Carolina.1  He died between 19 Feb 1856 when he appeared in court to defend his bounty land application and 18 August 1860 when his family was enumerated without him for the 1860 federal census.2  Silas’ wife Janet was born about 1795 in South Carolina and she too died before the 1860 census.3 

In the above photo how old does the man look?  Silas died between age 62 and 66.  Does the man in the above photo look that old?  Let’s say the man in the photo was 45 years old.  That would put the photo circa 1839.   I don’t think so.  The photo is all wrong for that time period. 

This photo is a copy from a cabinet card.  Cabinet cards were in use from the 1860s to the very early 20th century.  They peaked from 1880-1897. 

So who is the couple above?  This is a picture of Albert Graham and his wife Mary “Mittie” Grantham.  Silas Simmons is my 3rd great-grandfather and Albert Graham is my 2nd great-grandfather.  Albert’s daughter Corrine married Silas’ granddaughter James. 

Albert Graham was born in 1844 and died in 1917.4  His wife Mary was born in 1839 and died in 1926.5  So if Albert was 45 years old in the photo that would put the date of the photo as 1889 which makes a lot more sense. 

Here is the same couple.  This photo isn’t on… yet.  Someone will copy it from my blog and post it as their own I am sure. 


This photo would have been taken before Mittie died so let’s just say circa 1905.  That would put Albert at age 61 and Mary at age 66.

Did I mention that one of my cousins has the originals of both photos? They are clearly labeled “Albert and Mittie Graham” and we have the complete provenance of the photos. 

So is there a photograph of Silas Simmons?  Yes, there is. 


This is a copy of a Daguerreotype.  The photograph would have been taken circa 1850 when Silas was about 55 years old.   Daguerreotypes were in use from 1839 to around 1861 with their peak use from 1841-1856.  Another cousin has the original and she can trace its provenance. 

Tomorrow I am going to show you another myth in connection with Silas and Janet Simmons and this one is a doozy.  I believed a family tradition and thought I had enough evidence to back it up.  I was wrong.

1 1850 U.S. census, Perry County, Mississippi, population schedule, p. 384 (stamped), dwelling 185, family 185, Silas Simmons household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 February 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 379.

2 Silas Simmons (Pvt., 10 and 20 Consolidated Louisiana Militia, War of 1812), bounty land warrant file 64098 (Act of 1850); Military Bounty Land Warrants and Related Papers; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington, D.C. 1860 U.S. census, Perry County, Mississippi, population schedule, Southern District, p. 19 (penned), dwelling 127, family 117, Henry Dearman household; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 17 October 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 589. Silas and Janet Simmons’s younger children were living in the household of their oldest sister Elizabeth and her husband Henry Dearman. Silas and Janet are not found on the 1860 census.

3 1850 U.S. census, Perry County, Mississippi, pop. sch., p. 384 (stamped), dwell. 185, fam. 185, Silas Simmons household.

4 Mississippi State Department of Health, death certificate 07174 (1926), Albert G. Graham; Vital Records, Jackson.

5 Mississippi State Department of Health, death certificate 7592 (1917), Mary Richardson Graham; Vital Records, Jackson. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

1 comment:

  1. That daguerreotype looks weirdly familiar, though I'm sure that plenty of men from that time looked similar. My family has tons of old pictures and daguerreotype of relatives, that I always wished I knew more about.
    I've enjoyed poking around your sight, my granny and aunt did a lot of research on our ancestry, and one day I hope to have time to sit down and explore it all!