Monthly Archives: July 2015

Thomas Family Portraits

My first trip back to the family stomping grounds of Vermont in 35 years was a particularly rewarding experience in many ways.  Prior to the trip I was missing photographs of two great-great-grandparents, and there were two of my great-grandparents who only had mediocre photos.  I was fortunate enough that new photos of all four of these ancestors were located during the trip!  Extremely exciting.

The first two portraits are owned by my great-uncle Charles Fogg Thomas.  He has kept them safe for many, many years after getting them from his father.  The pictures are hand-painted tintype photographs taken around the time of the marriage of my great-great-grandparents Horace Luther Thomas and Anna Clifford in 1872.  Horace would have been 25 years old and Anna would have been 20 years old.  They are in very elaborate “shadow box” frames, which made them hard to copy, but I managed to get good photographs of them.

Horace Luther Thomas c1872

Horace Luther Thomas c1872

Anna Clifford c1872

Anna Clifford c1872

The next two portraits are of Horace and Anna later in life, probably about 1925.

Horace Luther Thomas c1925

Horace Luther Thomas c1925

Anna Clifford c1925

Anna Clifford c1925

The next photo was taken about 1910.  It shows the family of Jean Gregoire Bacon, my great-great-grandfather.  This is the only known photo of Jean and his wife Cordélie Olivier, so it was particularly emotional to see it for the first time.

Across the back are their children, Olive “Eva” Bacon, Delia Bacon (my great-grandmother) and Alexander Bacon.  Jean and Cordélie are seated in front.  Delia and her mother died from pneumonia four days apart in 1918, after contracting Spanish Influenza.

BaconFamily1910

Jean Gregoire Bacon and family c1910. Olive, Delia, Alex (back row), Jean & Cordelia Oliver seated.

This final portrait is particularly poignant.  After Delia Bacon died in 1918 her husband Fred Thomas Sr. was left with two children to care for and a full-time job to hold down.  He ended up deciding to temporarily place his children with family members.  This photo must have been taken at some point in 1919, about a year after Delia’s death.  It shows Fred with his daughter Grace (left) and Fred Jr. (right).  It is the first clear photo of Fred Sr’s face that I’ve ever seen.

It’s poignant because Fred Jr. and Grace are holding on to each other’s hands, and Fred Jr. is holding on to his father’s hand, but right around this time all three of them were living in different homes.  They would never be a family in the same way again.

Fred Thomas Sr with daughter Grace (left) and son Fred Jr (right) about 1919.

Fred Thomas Sr with daughter Grace (left) and son Fred Jr (right) about 1919.


Thomas Family Chair

Unbeknownst to me, my great-uncle Charles Fogg Thomas has in his possession a very old, wooden chair, which he explained to me was owned by his grandfather Horace Luther Thomas, then passed down to Charles’s father Frederick Clifford Thomas Sr., and then in turn to Charles.

Thomas Family Chair

Thomas Family Chair

There is an inscription written on the bottom of the chair in pencil.  The inscription reads:

1930, Chair 150 yrs. old

Charles Franklin Thomas

Horace Luther Thomas

Frederick Clifford Thomas

Charles Fogg Thomas 1979

Inscription

Inscription

Since Horace died in 1929 and the date at the top says 1930, my guess is that my great-grandfather Fred Thomas was given the chair after his father Horace’s death and told it once belonged to Horace’s father Charles H. Thomas (1821-1873), who was a blacksmith that lived in Chazy, Burke, and Canton, New York.  Fred then wrote the lineage on the chair in 1930 but got his grandfather’s middle name wrong, conflating it with that of his uncle.  (He may have naturally assumed the two men had the same middle name.)  Horace’s death record lists his father as “Charles F. Thomas”, so it’s clear the family was confused about the middle initial of their ancestor.

Charles said he added his name to the chair when it was given to him, presumably by his mother Irene Fogg Thomas in 1979, shortly before her death in 1980.  It seems the chair belonged to Charles H. Thomas, then to Horace, then to Fred, and finally to Charles Fogg Thomas.  Four generations.  If the inscription is correct, the chair may have been built around 1780, and could have even belonged to older generations of the family.  I would love to have an antique expert give their opinion on when the chair was constructed.

For his part, Charles had a rather humorous take on the chair: “Because it started as a “Charles” chair I guess it was just thought by everyone that it would go to me… but I didn’t ask for it.”