Hold on to your hats. We’re going back a ways. It’s about 1889, if this photo really is what it claims to be. I can’t vouch completely for this image. Supposedly it is Chester Pease Gridley, my mother’s great great grandfather. I found it on the Internet when I tapped into someone else’s (a stranger’s) research on a popular genealogical research website, but I was unable to connect with the original poster to find out how they come to have such a photo. I don’t have any reason to doubt that it’s my ancestor, because the connections and documentation appear sound, but the photo was posted with the caption “Chester Pease Gridley 80th Birthday”, and I find it hard to believe that this is a photo of an 80-year-old man. He looks to be in his fifties to me. On the other hand, consider two pieces of evidence. First, my Chester was born in 1809. Second, I googled H. W. Calendar and turned up this note by one Nick Heckenthorp about a similar photo:
“After research, I discovered that Homer W. Calendar operated a studio in Springfield from 1883 to 1889. Research specifically lists the location at 23 S Limestone between 1885 and 1886 which the address on this photo. Source: https://books.google.com/books?id=LChcvLOmf-UC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=calendar&f=false
“Cabinet Cards are a card mounted photograph introduced in 1866, and tremendously popular, especially in the U.S., from its introduction until just after the turn of the century. The Cabinet Card is easily distinguished from other card mounted photos by its size, typically 4.25 x 6.5 inches (108 x 164 mm). Like the CDV, the vast majority are portraits, and most of them are not identified with the subjects name. Many do have a photographers imprint. (source: http://www.ajmorris.com/roots/photo/types.php)”
So the timing seems about right, because Chester would have been 80 years old in 1889, which is apparently right over the plate for this type of portrait. I may find out more later.
As Chester is on my mother’s side, I know very little about him. My family records say he was born in Wayne Township, Steuben County, New York on 1 November 1809, and that he died on 6 October 1898 in Springfield, Clark County, Ohio. He represents something of a break with tradition in the Gridley line, because his forebears (father Revilo, grandfather Roger, and greats Thomas, Thomas, Thomas and Thomas) had all lived and mostly died in Connecticut, around Litchfield and Hartford counties, whereas C.P. ended up across the Appalachians, taking Buckeye Lydia Ann Thomas as his second of three wives. They became the parents of Laura Phoebe Gridley (P. Laura Gridley in the 1880 census), my maternal great great grandmother, whom I showed you here.
A girl I worked with at the public library when I was a teenager once told me I looked a little like Charles, Prince of Wales. I don’t think she meant to flatter me — the comment was in reference to my prominent nose, if memory serves — but I shot back that it was because I was related to him. It was the only time I ever made so free with a piece of family lore that has, as far as I know, no basis in documentation. (My carelessness was anyway all for naught, as my coworker was unimpressed by my claim of kinship to the English Throne.) My mother’s folks handed down the story that it was through the Gridley line that we had inherited the noble blood of an English king via…ahem…illicit channels. A mistress, yes. My mother would always say it was “one of the Georges, the crazy one.” I guess this would be George the Third, “by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith.” If this story is true and could be proved by documentation, I could for just around 200 quid join the Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain (The Royal Bastards) as a lifetime member.
It seems like the kind of story a family would often repeat after it had got started, whether or not it were true, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that a family just starts saying about itself without reason. So I can imagine that it might be true, but I would never hope to prove it, and anyway Chester was born before King George died in 1820 and we know who his fathers were back to 1612, so it would be incumbent on us as Pretenders to Ye Throne to explain just how King George managed to sire the ancestors of people who were living more than a century before him. As they say, “there’s the rub.” – mdf
Image archive ID:
About the physical photograph:
Characteristics unknown. Found online. Appears to be a cabinet card by H. W. Calendar of Springfield, Ohio.