Monday, July 23, 2012


© Kathy Duncan, 2012

This week I stumbled across a photograph of my great-great-great grandmother Elizabeth (Renfro) Yarberry. She is the little old lady on the far left, with her son John Newton Yarberry's family.

John Newton Yarberry family

This photograph provides us with more information to add to what is known about the Yarberrys. Thomas N. Yarberry, Elizabeth's husband, is not in the photo. This suggests that she did, in fact, outlive him. Elizabeth (Renfro) Yarberry's estimated death date is usually given as 1885. However, John Newton Yarberry's son Alex, who was born in 1886, is not only in the picture, but he is well beyond infancy. Alex is in the front row on the far right. Therefore, Elizabeth (Renfro) Yarberry lived well beyond 1885. But how far beyond?

Fortunately, the family members in the photograph are identified. In the back row, from left to right: Lula Matilda Yarberry, Elizabeth Florence Yarberry, Lela Bell Yarberry, baby girl unidentified, Lillian Dellar Yarberry, Charles Luther Yarberry, and George Washington Yarberry. In the front row, from left to right: Elizabeth (Renfro) Yarberry, John Newton Yarberry, his wife Sarah (Blevins) Yarberry, and Alexander Campbell Yarberry. This gave me a place to start in trying to solve the problem of dating the photo. To do this, I made a chart with all of the family members in the order in which they appear in the photograph. I added a column with their birth years.

Lula Matilda 1883
Elizabeth Florence 1881
Lela Bell 1878
Lillian Dellar 1878
Charles Luther 1876
George Washington 1872

Elizabeth (Renfro) 1815
John Newton 1843
Sarah (Blevins) 1848
Alexander Campbell 1886

Then I added a column for the year 1887 and entered their ages for that year. I added a column for each year through 1899 and added a year to their ages in each column.

The last column is 1899 because that is the year Lillian (Yarberry) Lowe died, so the photograph cannot be any later than 1899. Lillian provided the most clues in trying to date the photograph. In 1893, at the age of 15, she married William Jacob Lowe and gave birth to Sarah Lowe, the first of her two children, on 25 September 1894. Does that mean that the unidentified baby girl is Sarah Lowe? Probably. However, Lela is identified as holding the unidentified baby girl, not Lillian. Why? Does this cause yet another problem in narrowing down the time frame for the photograph? Possibly, but I don't think so.

Fortunately, I also stumbled across an image of Lillian Dellar Yarberry and her husband William Jacob Lowe. It is not really a photograph. Instead, it is a drawing made from photographs of William and Lillian. Since Lillian died young, they had probably never been in a photograph together. Chances are William had the drawing made after Lillian died. That meant the artist worked from two photographs to make one image of them together. Look carefully at this drawing of Lillian. She looks more like the girl identified as Lela in the family photograph. If fact, it looks like the John Newton Yarberry family group photograph is the source for the image that the artist used to make the drawing of Lillian. It seems likely that at some point the girls' identifications in the family photograph were switched. It also seems more likely that Lillian is holding her own baby in the family photograph.

William Jacob and Lillian Dellar (Yarberry) Lowe

My rough estimate of the date for the photograph is, therefore, 1895. In that year the family members would be of the following ages:

Lula Matilda 12
Elizabeth Florence 14
Lela Bell 17
Lillian Dellar 17
Charles Luther 19
George Washington 23

Elizabeth (Renfro) 80
John Newton 52
Sarah (Blevins) 47
Alexander Campbell 9

Elizabeth (Renfro) Yarberry's death date needs to be adjusted to after 1895. She lived at least ten more years. During that ten years, she may have posed for other pictures and generated additional records.

Elizabeth (Renfro) Yarberry
1815 - after 1895

[Thank you Dwayne Miller for allowing me to use your images for this blog entry.]

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