September 19, 2010

Who are these folks?

These copies were sent to me by a descendant of John and Rebecca Ragsdale Coffey with notes that they were photos of that couple.  Accompanying those was another photo of a young girl purported to be Jane Hopper, second wife of John Coffey.   They are copies of copies of copies!
Not Rebecca Ragsdale
Not John Coffey

John was born in 1798 and Rebecca c1811.  They were married Feb. 24, 1821 in Grainger Co., TN.  Jane was born c1823 and married John c1840.  It should be obvious that Rebecca died before 1840.  Both John and Jane died after 1870, the last year they appeared in the census record.  That year they were residing in White Rock, McDonald Co., MO.

Although poor quality copies, they still have enough detail for us to recognize they are too "modern" to have been taken of someone born as early as John and Rebecca and who appears in this photo to be in their late 30's, perhaps early to mid-40's.  That applies to Jane as well.  She appears to be perhaps 12-15 year old meaning the photo was taken c1835-1838.  The fact that John's photo seems to have been taken in Rotterdam and Jane's somewhere else doesn't lend any credence to the claim that they are of the folks they are said to be.
Not Jane Hopper Coffey

Cameras capable of taking photos of this quality were simply not available at the time John, Rebecca and Jane were of the ages depicted by the people in the photos. The invention of photography is generally agreed to have been in 1839 when the French chemist,Louis J.M. Daguerre was recognized by his Government for his invention.  If these photos were taken at the times each of the persons they purport to depict was at that age, they would have been Dauguerre types and not of very good quality.  Jane's photo would probably not exist.  These are what I would call "postcard type" photos, printed on paper and mounted to something like cardboard stock.  They were probably taken during the latter part of the 19th century-early 20th. and in Europe, not the US.

As a favor to the person who sent the photos, I have agreed to post them here in case anyone should recognize them.

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