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Monday, August 7, 2017

The Chancellors Revealed

Melzi Chancellor and family, 1866 (American Antiquarian Society)

     Last week, I discovered two photographs in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society that I believe show Reverend Melzi Chancellor and several of his family members.  One of these pictures, shown above, did not have any identifying information on the back. The other, shown below has written on the back "Chancellor Family Group."

Chancellor Family Group, 1866 (American Antiquarian Society)

Label on the back of the picture above (American Antiquarian Society)

     Note that the woman seated at right in the second photo also appears standing second from left in the first photograph.
     Now take a look at the photograph below. It shows Reverend Melzi Chancellor, seated at left, with his brothers Dr. James Edgar Chancellor, standing, and Lorman Chancellor:

Melzi Chancellor and brothers

     Based on the known likeness of Melzi taken later in life, it is my opinion that he is the same man seated with his family in the first picture above. The two outdoor photographs were taken in Spotsylvania County in April 1866 by Dr. Reed Bontecou, who had come to make a photographic record of the battlefields there. While in Spotsylvania, Dr. Bontecou also took pictures of several families, including the Chancellors.
     Assuming that the photograph labeled "Chancellor Family Group" correctly identifies the subjects, I believe that this photo shows at least two of Melzi's daughters. Since there was no other Chancellor family in Spotsylvania at the time these pictures were made consisting of people of this age, the second picture can only be that of Reverend Melzi Chancellor and his family.
     Melzi Chancellor married Lucy Fox Frazer in 1837. They had ten children together, nine of whom were living in 1866 (a son, 18-year-old Thomas, died in July 1863 from wounds sustained during the Battle of Gettysburg). Those children and their dates of birth are shown below:

Vespasian (1838)
Anna Cora (1840)
George Edwards (1842)
Edmonia (1846)
Bedell (1848)
Lucy Monroe (1852)
Susan Monroe (1853)
Leona (1857)
Melzi, Jr. (1859)

     It is my opinion that the group photo at the beginning of this post shows standing left to right: Lucy Fox Frazer Chancellor, either Anna Cora or Edmonia, Bedell, and either Lucy or Susan. Seated are Reverend Melzi Chancellor and George Edwards. Melzi Jr. is seated at his father's feet.
     It is also my opinion that two of the women in the second picture are Anna Cora and Edmonia. None of these three women seem young enough to be Lucy or Susan.
     If my identification of these photographs is correct, then they are exceedingly rare likenesses of this well-known family.
     Over the years, I have written extensively about the Chancellor family. I invite you to have a look at those articles:

The Chancellors, Part 1

The Chancellors, Part 2

The Chancellors, Part 3

Lorman Chancellor

Reverend Melzi Sanford Chancellor

"O the horror of that day"

Dr. James Edgar Chancellor

Three Who Rode to War

Chancellor & Rawlings


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