Martha Jane Hammond was my 3x great-grandmother. She was born in Drummenny, Donegal, Ireland, the daughter of John Hammond and Jane Bustard. She married John Mullins, a fellow Irish immigrant and US Civil War veteran in Marengo, Iowa in 1871.
The descendants of my great-grand-aunt Ruth Curtis in Dubuque, Iowa have a large repository of family history documents and photos. In that collection was the following portrait, which was marked in a conflicting manner as both “Martha Jane Hammond” and also as her daughter “Agnes Mullins”.
The front says “Aggie (Agnes) Mullins”. The back says “Grandma Martha Mullins – Ruthie’s (Ruth Curtis’s) Grandmother”.
Agnes Mullins died at age 15, so when I first saw this portrait I felt like it could not have been her. I proceeded for a long time with the assumption that this was a portrait of Martha Jane Hammond as a young woman. You can see that there’s another person seated next to her, so this was cropped from a larger portrait of two people. That usually means a marriage photo, so it was probably taken about the time of her wedding in 1871. I’m guessing the “Aggie Mullins” might mean it originally belonged to her, and then passed to another family member (presumably my 2x-great-grandmother Edna Mullins) when Agnes died in 1891.
Then many months later a cousin named Michael Curtis uploaded several new photos to his account on Ancestry.com. They are not scanned very well, but they are clear enough that one can get a much better picture of Martha and her husband John Mullins.
The first photo was of Martha’s husband (my 3x great-grandfather) John Mullins. It’s not clear when it was taken, but he looks to be about 35 years old, so I’m guessing it was taken about 1880. The photo was taken in Grinnell, Iowa, which was where the family was living in 1880.
When he enlisted in the 14th New York Heavy Artillery regiment in 1863, he was 19 years old and described as 5’6″ in height with blue eyes, light hair, and fair complexion.
The next photo is of Martha with one of her daughters:
To me, it didn’t seem like the same woman as the older photo I already had. The jaw-line is similarly strong, and the hair is curly in both, but this woman seemed to have pale blue eyes, and in the older photo the woman seemed to have darker eyes. Then another photo of Martha as an older woman was put online:
This looked to be the same woman as the middle portrait.
Next came one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. It’s the full portrait from which the original portrait of Martha was taken:
My first thought was this must be two of the children of John and Martha. I remembered that the original portrait had been labeled “Agnes Mullins”, so I thought it was Agnes and her older brother, William Mullins. But as I said, Agnes died at age 15, and the ages of these two didn’t seem correct for her to be 14 or 15 and him to be 20. It seemed more likely that this was a wedding portrait of John and Martha.
The final piece of the puzzle was this portrait of Guy Harvey Curtis (brother of my 2x-great-grandfather Florin Herbert Curtis) and his wife Winifred Elizabeth “Bessie” Mullins, who was the daughter of John and Martha. It was obviously taken in their living room and two portraits are visible:
The obvious thing is the same portrait of Martha Jane Hammond on the wall. Less obvious is that the full version of the portrait (with John Mullins) is barely visible behind the chair of Guy H. Curtis. One can recognize the same hat and face, etc, from the wedding portrait.
To me it makes sense that Bessie would have portraits of her parents in her home, so it cemented my view that the original portrait must be Martha Jane Hammond taken about the time of her wedding to John Mullins c1871.