Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Favorite Discovery: Eliza May Wells Daguerreotype ~ 52 Ancestors #7

This week's theme is Favorite Discovery. My favorite discoveries come from people who contact me because they found my blog and want to share something with me.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from someone who was searching the name Eliza May Wells and came across my blog post from October 2012: Wordless Wednesday: Eliza May Wells.

He shared an image of a daguerreotype with a note referencing Lucinda, Edwin, and Ruth Wells of Hopkinton, New Hampshire. I recently blogged about these three Wells siblings and that they stayed Close to Home. (It was his email that prompted me to write that post, as I was curious to find out how the three siblings died within days of each other in 1882.)

I was thrilled, as I have a carte de visite that was created from the original, which I shared with him, confirming who was in the image.

My original photo and the note on the back:

Eliza May Wells (Greeley)
Gt. gt. Aunt Lucinda Wells
Oldest sister of Thomas G. Wells

I don't know whose handwriting this is, but it might be Ethel May Greeley (Copeland) writing a note to my grandfather, Lowell T. Copeland, as Lucinda would have been his great-great aunt.

My correspondent provided me with the image of the daguerreotype (slightly cleaned up, to digitally remove some dust under the glass):

This is your mother and Aunt Lucinda Wells, your Grandfather Wells older sister. She lived in Hopkinton N.H. with Uncle Edwin Wells + Aunt Ruth Wells, where we went every summer. They had a farm there.  R.L.W.

The girl is my great-great-grandmother, Eliza May Wells (1839-1880), who married Samuel Sewall Greeley in 1866. The woman is her aunt, Lucinda Wells (1806-1882), the oldest of Thomas G. Wells's several younger sisters.

I theorize that R.L.W. is the younger Ruth Lyman Wells (1862-1943) and that she wrote the note for her niece, Ruth Lyman Greeley (1878-1975). As I noted in the recent post at Same Name: Ruth, these two were living together in Boston in 1910 and 1920.

This photograph could have been taken as early as 1849 because Eliza looks like she is about ten years old. Lucinda looks like she is wearing a mourning dress, which she likely would have worn for a year after the death of her father, who died in May 1849. My correspondent notes that "The mat and "preserver" (or frame) are typical of the very early 1850s. I suspect that my daguerreotype may date to as early as 1849, when Eliza May was 10 or so, because that pebbly mat was generally out of use by the early 1850s."

I knew that the Wells family had lived in Hopkinton, New Hampshire for decades, but now I know that the Massachusetts-born children of Thomas G. Wells and his wife, Elizabeth, spent their childhood summers at the Wells family farm in New Hampshire.

My Wells line is at Surname Saturday ~ Wells of New Hampshire.

Thank you to Claus for sharing the images of this original daguerreotype of my second-great-grandmother Eliza and her aunt Lucinda.


  1. How lucky you are to have a daguerrrotype photo of family members. I have some early pictures, c1850, but no daguerrotype images.

    1. I have a few daguerreotypes in my collection and I know I'm very lucky. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. What a beautiful photograph. And it cleaned up so well. It's a treasure -- what a blessing you have it! Even better is the information on the back so you know who these ladies are.

    1. The lovely thing is that the gentleman who has it was willing to make a lovely clear digital image for me and between the two copies, we have good information about who is in the picture.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.