Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who are these guys?

Phyllis just brought me a photo album, covered in turquoise velvet, decorated with a gilt dragonfly, moon & roses, with an inscription: "presented to Sallie Dutton by her husband, xmas 1896." Inside it are the most extraordinary photographs. Unfortunately I have no idea who the majority of them are - very few are labeled. So I've been shuffling them around, trying to find resemblances between faces, comparing the configuration of ears or eyebrows, any clue that might help me match the images to the names that I know could belong to them.

I think that these men are my grandfather Daniel Hoskins Dutton's brothers. They are definitely related to each other. All of these photos were taken in the same studio here in Somerset. So far I've been unable to locate any information about the photographer, so all I know is that they likely date from the late 1800s. Seeing them together I am so struck by their beauty.

The first image is my grandfather ~

This last photo, made at a different time than the others, could possible be my grandfather when he was younger. The hairline is identical. Or it could be Bush Logan Albertus, who "died at an early age"? I'm much taken with his strong hands.

The man in the third photo seems extraordinarily handsome - the Elfin gene lends him an unearthly presence. Perhaps he is Marion, who died on 1/13/31 at age 33. (These numbers have a peculiar and mysterious significance to me.)

Brent and Aleck both died at 4 months age. The other possible brother names are Joseph E., William, and John.

It seems unlikely that I'll discover who is who.


Cathy said...

What an amazing find! I'm struck by the eyes, which all have the same penetrating, mesmeric gaze.

The young man in the last photo does indeed look like your granddad; not just the hairline, which is very distinctive, but the ears and the nose. What does Cebah say?

Dan Dutton said...

Cebah never met my grandfather, so she's no help in this territory. I love these photos - I would love to know something, anything, about the very striking & dapper mystery man #3.

Do you think that the next to last photo could also be the same young man as the last one? I wonder ~ if so he's beginning to get a certain solidness which you see in my grandfather's photos from later than the one in this set. He was a "bear man" ~ and grew into those huge hands apparently ~ my dad had the long lean look of my grandmother's line, & that's what I got too. But the fashion thing might have come down direct from these guys.

Eventually I'll magnify all the ears and see what I can figure out from those.

Alan Evil said...

I can see Jason's eyes in our great grandfather's. I'd always wondered about that, figuring he was some kind of alien implant or adopted or something. Still have my doubts about that boy...

The next to the last two don't look related to each other or us, but I could be wrong. I especially feel that about the next to the last picture. Could they be family friends or old flames?

Mom has been religious about dating photos and writing the names of those in them on the back.

A thing that worries me about digital photos is that they will vanish with time, never to be found in a box or an old album a hundred or more years in the future. They will be deleted, the hard drives they're on will stop working, the machines needed to read those hard drives will cease to exist, the CD's and DVD's they're burned onto will disintegrate. Time will be far less friendly to the digital images and recordings of our world and I have this sneaking suspicion that despite the fact this is the most photographed time in history, there may not be much left of the next century a century from now.

Dan Dutton said...

I've had the same thought about the digital age - there's a kind of awful poetic justice in that possibility ~ so many images, of which few will last to inform another age.