Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Alleged photographs of my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every

In an online family tree, I found two alleged photographs of my great grandfather, Melvin Van Every. I communicated with the owner of the tree, and the photographs came from his grandmother's collection, and she was a niece of my great-grandfather. I would normally consider that a good source of identification, but my great-grandfather had about twenty siblings. It would have been easy for a niece to get confused.

There are three photographs below. The one in the middle is a definite photograph of my great-grandfather, taken in 1900, shortly after the birth of his daughter, and my grandmother, Myrtle. (It was colorized in the 1940s, but I have the original photograph as well, which contained my grandmother as an infant.)

My inexpert opinion is that the individual in the oldest photograph isn't the same as the individual in the middle. The shape of the head is different. However, the ear, mouth, and nose look identical. If it were my great-grandfather, it would likely have been taken in 1883, at the time of his wedding, when he was 20.

I am much more willing to believe the man in the last picture is my great-grandfather. He lived until 1929, age 66. Visually, I'd guess the picture is from his final decade.


Nancy said...

John, as I look at these three photos I see the same man in different times of his life. So often when I look at photos that are definitively identified as the same person over time, I notice that faces and bodies often get fuller as people age. The similarities between one and two are striking: hairline -- even the way the hair falls to the man's right, ears, nose, mouth, fullness on the lower face behind and under the mouth, and shoulders that slant slightly. In photo 3 I see all of those, but in a more aged version. But I would probably be like you and want something more than a distant cousin's word for it. I hope you'll find more photos, perhaps with a name on the back.

John said...

Thanks. The cousin isn't certain who wrote the identification on the back of his photograph. He assumes it was his grandmother, which would generally be a good identification since she was my great grandfather's niece. But he isn't certain.

John said...

If it is my great-grandfather, I think it qualifies as my oldest family photograph.

Pre-dating by 10 years, this photograph of his children