I’m always hopeful about solving photograph mysteries. This unknown couple must have had a significant event to have posed for a portrait with the Cyrus P. Wharton Photographers (1887-1905) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The photo was in a trunk belonging to Sarah Ophelia Rose Barnes (1863-1936). Ophelia, as she was called, lived in Grantham Township, Wayne County, NC. When she was elderly she went to live with her daughter, Bessie Barnes Coleman, and son-in-law, Thomas, in Rocky Mount, NC. The photo is from Barnes cousin, Betsy Coleman. Click on it to enlarge.
The time period for the Wharton Photographer Studio seems exactly right for the fashions. The pretty and prim lady has leg-of-mutton sleeves on her blouse. They were very popular in the 1890s and had disappeared by about 1905. With men suits it is harder to gauge, since many men wear clothes that they like, even when out of fashion. The gentleman has distinctive facial hair, with what was called a mutton chop mustache or burnsides, named after American Civil War General Ambrose Burnside. That style went out of fashion by the 20th century. My guess is that the portrait was taken sometime around 1900.
When Ophelia’s granddaughter, Helen, looked at this photo, she commented that the lady looked to have some Native American features. Helen thought that would have made the portrait from the Barnes family, and not the Rose family. One of the female ancestors, Sarah Shearwood Barnes (b. 1706 in Berkeley, NC), was thought to have Native American ancestry. Also, Ophelia’s son George Herbert Barnes’s wife, Sadie Fitzgerald Barnes supposedly had a Cherokee ancestor. The couple look to be in their 40s.
This is where I’m going out on a limb, but I think the couple were Amariah A. Grantham (1848-1903) and Alice S. Barnes Grantham (1858-1932). Alice’s sister, Emma, had first married Amariah in 1873, in Wayne County, NC. Emma and Amariah had two children, Claud and Alice. After Emma Barnes Grantham died, circa 1880, sister Alice married Amariah. Part of what I’m basing my guess on is a family report and photo about the Grantham family, published in the Heritage of Wayne County, North Carolina, 1982 [Hiram Grantham Family 538, pages 253 and 254]. Emma and Alice Barnes were the sisters of Thomas Whitley Barnes, Ophelia’s husband.
From a photo of Jesse Hiram Grantham, who was Amariah’s brother, I think there is a resemblance between the two men. I really enjoyed finding this article, because it gives an intriguing background on the Grantham and Barnes family in Wayne County, NC. Evidently, Amariah and Jesse Grantham had another brother, named Silas C. Grantham, who had also been in love with Alice Barnes, and was very upset when she married Amariah after her sister’s death.
Friday’s Faces From the Past is a blogging prompt by GeneaBloggers, to help with discovering about known ancestors or complete unknowns. It was suggested by Smadar Belkid Gerson of Past-Present-Future. Enjoy searching your roots!