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Friday, January 30, 2015

PAINTING A PORTRAIT FOR POSTERITY

I‘ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. For years, my brother and I have worked on a family history book for our father’s Johnson/Johnston/Johnstone family. We collected anecdotes, photos, and everything else we could find. I have to admit my brother is better than I am at ferreting out details. I have more anecdotes and photos, and that includes photos of paintings. Yes, we want to know what everyone looked like.

Back when transient artists traveled from home to home painting whoever would pay for their services, there were those who were not, shall we say, in the right profession. For instance, take a gander at the photo below of John Robert Gibson Clemmons and then at the painting of the same man. 


Is the one below of another ancestor and his wife a true likeness? We’ll never know, but we’re using it in our book.


Penuel and Connie Wood about 1775

We’re also using the one below of an early couple in South Carolina. Oh, dear. The distant relative who provided this one, Bill Glenn, said, “You can see where our family gets their good looks.” He’s a nice looking man so he can afford to have a sense of humor about his ancestors.

Painting of Isham and Thurza Wood, about 1840
The thing we wanted to get across is that these old names and dates were REAL PEOPLE. Knowing about their lives brings history of that era alive for us. For instance, knowing that the reason family members went to Georgia is because the men had a price on their heads for blowing up a Tory warehouse during the American Revolution makes that war more personal.

Knowing another branch of the family had their lands Scotland confiscated in 1715 for supporting the Jacobean Rebellion makes that conflict personal. They were sent to Ireland and some came on to Virginia.

Of course we have the, um, not so upstanding members too. Don't we all? I find them fascinating as well. The fellow below was shot before he could testify in a trial. I guess state's evidence is nothing new. He's one of our part Cherokee ancestors.

Levi Akridge before his 1871 death

In other words, this book has been educational. I’m glad it’s complete except for the editing, though. I look forward to holding the finished product in my hands. I hope other family members are as pleased as I will be.

Have you written your family’s history? If not, I urge you to do so while there are those alive to share anecdotes with you. You can always find the dry details, but those stories will disappear unless someone writes them.

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

Bookie said...

This was great post and I really enjoyed reading it this morning. Thanks for sharing the pictures too!