02 December 2012

My first post! And a mystery...

Who am I?
I think my first post is going to be about the elation and subsequent let down that I recently suffered when I discovered this photo:

  This daguerreotype had been donated to the local museum by Mrs. Kate (VanSant) Porter.  Kate was the sister to my great great grandmother, Maud (VanSant) Grimes.  We had located the original donor record which listed the items that Aunt Kate had donated.  It listed three tintypes in cases, a tin cup, a 1773 bible, etc.  The prospect of finding photos of ancestors that I had never seen was exciting, to say the least.    After in exhaustive search, we finally came across the daguerreotype only to discover that there was NOTHING to identify the woman!  Really?  Really?
  So now my inner CSI has emerged and I have begun the process of trying to find out who she is using clues that I can gather from the photo itself.  I know that since the daguerreotype has a brass preserver, that it was made after 1846.  The matte that surrounds the photo also points to a late 1840's to early 1850's time frame.  I would judge the woman to be in her 40's or 50's.  That would put her date of birth in the late 1700's to early 1800's.  From there I have whittled down my options to four possibilities:  Elizabeth (Denison) Van Zandt b. 1797 wife of James Monroe Van Zandt,  Catherine Huldah (Tupper) Merriam b. 1803, wife of Cyrus Merriam, Julia (Balis) Ingraham b. 1803,  wife of Thomas Swan Ingraham and lastly, Jane (Lee) Baldwin b. 1794, wife of Francis Baldwin. 
  Since I'm not even remotely an expert on women's fashion of that period,  I can't use the dress or  headdress to help rule out any of the above.  I'm hoping that maybe the head scarf might have been worn for religious reasons and can help me to further shorten my list.  The quest continues!!


  1. I missed your introduction on Geneabloggers last week...so welcome!
    I recently became the owner of a box of ambrotypes from my maternal grandmother's side of the family...and you guessed it, none of them are labeled. Sigh! So I feel your pain.

  2. It really is frustrating! But I haven't given up hope yet!

  3. Hi Chris,
    I learned about your blog via Geneabloggers.
    Reading it, it struck me that the Van Zandt name sounds very Dutch. Being Dutch myself, I was very much interested. I also have a blog with many genealogical subjects. One of my posts shows a survey of foreign genealogical blogs/sites showing Dutch origin surnames. The URL is http://www.patmcast.blogspot.com/2012/05/dutch-ancestors.html. The idea is to try and establish contacts between people who have an interest in the same surname. There are numerous cases in The Netherlands where people emigrated centuries ago without leaving a trace in Dutch archives. With my blog I try to bring Dutch and foreign (mainly US/CAN) genealogists together.
    Therefore, I like to have your permission to show your site in my a.m. blog.
    I look forward to your reaction!
    With my best wishes for 2013,

  4. Chris,
    Thanks for your OK to incorporate your blog in my list. I have shown the four surnames that you mentioned. If there is anything you want me to change/add please let me know. I noticed that there is another blogger in my list (Denielle Radcliff Koch of Ancestrally Challenged) who also has a Vanzandt among her ancestors.
    I frequently "advertise" the existence of my list on Dutch genealogy forums. So I hope people will see your names and contact you.
    I also started following your blog.

  5. Welcome to the wonderful world of genealogy blogging!

  6. Thank you Julie! I'm really enjoying it!

  7. Richard Jefferson BarthFebruary 11, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    I am also a Van Sandt and Van Zandt decendant.
    Unfortunatly the pic is gone...
    Elizabeth Denison Van Zandt was my 3rd great grandmother.
    R J Barth