Wednesday, June 20, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Alston Twins circa 1860

My second great grandmother was a twin. About nine years ago, using deductive reasoning, I determined that this is most likely a photograph of my second great grandmother, Marion Helen Alston, and her twin sister, Christina Alston.

An abbreviated version of my reasoning follows:

The photograph (I think an ambrotype) was received from my mother with items that she received from her mother, Helen Lysle Hunter Copeland and her aunt, Margaret Lysle Hunter.

The full view of the subjects in formal dress with one figure seated and the other standing is a pose used starting in the early 1860's. Marion and Christina were born May 1850, and these girls look like they could be about ten years old.

On the back of the frame of the photograph is a photographer's mark for JJ Gillespie Co Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, Pa. My maternal grandmother's ancestors lived in Pittsburgh for a couple of generations during the nineteenth century.

Two girls, dressed exactly alike, looking almost exactly alike, made me go through my mother's ancestral families to rule out any other pair of sisters other than the twins. There are plenty of large families in this part of my family, but none had sisters close enough in age except for Marion and Christina.

Therefore, I'm pretty sure that this photo is of my second great grandmother, Marion Helen Alston and her twin, Christina Alston. However, I will never know which is which.

See List Your Matrilineal Line to see how I descend from Marion Helen Alston.


  1. Priceless! Wonderful story, Elizabeth.

    1. Pam,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, this is one of my favorite treasures from my mother's side of the family.

  2. This is fascinating, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing your findings!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I've got a few more posts coming up about Alstons and Lysles.