The photo is part of the family history archive assembled by my generation’s uncle DeRand Jones, and on the back are faintly written notes (in pencil on a dark background) that say, “Fleet’s brother” and “Uncle Sam Jones”. Fleet refers to Fleetwood Churchill Jones, my generation’s GG grandfather.
Problem: Fleet had no brother named Sam. The only brother we have recorded for Fleet was William Henry Jones (1865-1943). According to "My Family Tree" software, William was my generation's great grand uncle.
The 1900 census records William as being a lawyer, and Fleet's obituary says William was the mayor of Bethesda, Ohio, at the time of Fleet's death in 1937. William was married to Sarah Beecher Jones and I have no record of their having any children.
So, was this photo actually brother William – with the writer having the relationship correct and the name wrong? Or did the writer have the name right and the relationship wrong? There’s a little mystery to resolve here.
Thinking about that - and wondering how such an error might be possible – I looked at the siblings of Fleet’s father - also named William - to look for Fleet’s uncles. From the 1850 census we see that Fleet's father did indeed have a brother by the name of Samuel, i.e., Fleet's uncle Sam. Here’s a look at the census data:
1850 United States Federal Census about William Jones
Home in 1850: Kirkwood, Belmont, Ohio
Household Members: Name, Age
Lewis Jones [Fleet’s grandfather], 60
Rebecca [McPherson] Jones [Fleet’s grandmother], 55
Lorenza Jones, 3
William Jones [Fleet’s father], 16
Samuel Jones [Fleet’s uncle, who was born about 1835], 16
James Jones, 14
Mavin Peggott, 26
John McPherson [Rebecca’s father, Fleet’s great grandfather], 82
So, could this be a photo of Fleet’s uncle Sam, rather than his brother?
The front of the photo shows the address of the photographer as being Wheeling, West Virginia. West Virginia didn’t become a state until 1863 when it was split off from Virginia, so we know the photo would have been taken after 1863. However, the back of the photo includes a circular emblem that says, “Convention of Photographers Association of America” and “St. Louis 1886”. (Click photos to enlarge 'em.)
At first I thought the emblem meant that the subject of the photo was a photographer and the picture was taken at that convention. However, that emblem is overlaid on another emblem. The second emblem appears to have been awarded to the photographer for "artistic photography". Thus, the emblems appear to have been added to the back of the photograph as a way of documenting the photographer's credentials, i.e., that he won this award at that convention.
Bottom line: The first emblem tells us the photo was taken in 1886 or thereafter.
Question: How old would Fleet’s brother have been in 1886? Answer: 21
Question: How old would Fleet’s uncle Sam have been in 1886? Answer: 51
Looking at the photo, the man is obviously closer to age 51 than age 21. So, it seems the mystery is resolved. If my analysis is correct, this photo is Fleet’s uncle, Sam Jones, not his brother William, and the photo was taken during or after 1886.
At the time this is being posted I have so far learned nothing about Sam's occupation, marriage, or children. Wheeling is just across the Ohio River from Belmont County, Ohio, where our ancestral Jones family was centered, so I presume that Sam lived there. "Family Tree Maker" software tells me Sam is my generation’s maternal GG grand uncle, and we now have this photo of him that is as much as 124 years old.
Please refer to the disclaimer on the index page of this blog for a statement regarding the accuracy of - and documentation for - the information presented in this blog.
Last updated 9/22/2010