Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley (1846 Rush County, Indiana-1923 Hancock County, Illinois)

When deciding which relatives to interview and ask questions of, get outside your “line of descent” and your “immediate family.” Others may have a different perspective, know different details, or not be “afraid” to reveal tidbits that others are hesitant to.

Family history remembered and written by nieces and nephews of Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley indicated that when they’d go to visit her in the home she lived in West Point, Hancock County, Illinois’ after she’d moved “to town,” she’d let them play dress up with clothes in the attic and they generally always had a fun time playing at Aunt Nancy’s.

And while I know that all pictures of the era look stern, that’s a really nice contrast to her picture–or maybe not. She could be thinking let’s just get this camera nonsense over with.




One response

  1. There are at least 2 reasons for the unsmiling portraits of the 1800’s.
    First, early photography required the sitter to remain perfectly still. The chemical reaction on a glass or metal plate took several minutes (the first daguerrotype took 8 HOURS! Eventually Louis Daguerre got that down to 15 minutes.) So, what kind of pose would you use if you had to stay in that position for several minutes. Try it in front of a mirror and see.
    Second, people who smiled and laughed for no reason were deemed “idiots”. Having you portrait done was serious business back then. Even wedding portraits were different; bride standing next to the groom sitting. Traditions and practices change over time.
    I also wonder if someone’s “dental health”, loss of teeth, etc. played a part in the lack of smiling. I don’t think we can conclude everyone was miserable and unpleasant.

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