Search This Blog

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Story Behind the Portrait

A mother with Lucy Matilda Trigg and Susan "Sudie" Stephens (American Antiquarian Society)

Label on the reverse of the photo above (American Antiquarian Society)

     In April 1866, Dr. Reed Bontecou brought his photographic equipment to Spotsylvania County. Bontecou was a Union surgeon during the Civil War, and is best known for the photographs he took of his surgical patients. His primary aim in Spotsylvania, however, was to document the local battlefield sites. While he was in the vicinity, Dr. Bontecou also made portraits of several Spotsylvania families: Dobyns, Chancellor, Hawkins Stephens and Trigg. I have just recently written about two of those families--here are the links to those articles: "During the war, the girls saw sights" and "The Chancellors Revealed".
     Today, I will discuss the identities of the women in the photo above. First, let me give a little background about the Stephens and Trigg families.

Detail of 1863 map by J. F. Gilmer
     In the map detail above, the homesteads of the Stephens and Trigg families can be seen side-by-side in the upper center of the image. Their farms were located on modern Jackson Trail West near its northern outlet on Brock Road.
     William A. Stephens (1821-1886) married Mary Eleanor Scott (1826-1897) in Washington, DC in June 1843. They settled in Spotsylvania at the location shown above; they called their place Rosemount. Mary came from a well-to-do family. She was a sister of wealthy Robert Scott, whose story I have told in this article: The Enigmatic Mr. Scott. William was a man of business--farmer, slave owner, auctioneer and real estate appraiser, and postmaster at Danielsville. After the completion of the Potomac, Fredericksburg & Piedmont Railroad, one of the stops was "Stephens Station," a small white building on his property.
     William and Mary Stephens were the parents of three children: Sarah (1846-1865), John James (1847-1929) and Susan "Sudie" Ellinor Stephens (1849-1906)
     The Stephens' neighbors were the Triggs, whose farm was called Poplar Neck. Joseph W. Trigg was also a farmer and slave owner, and postmaster at Brockville. He married Amanda Fox in June 1848. They had two children, Lucy Matilda (1849-1927) and John William (1850-1935).
     Amanda Fox Trigg died in June 1860. Just three months later, in September 1860, Joseph married neighbor Huldah Hawkins (1819-1891).
     So, now we know that there was only one young Stephens woman and one young Trigg woman living in that area in 1866. Therefore, I am confident that the two young ladies sitting are Sudie Stephens and Lucy Trigg, although I cannot say which is which.
     Which leaves us with the older woman standing with them. All that can be said with certainty is that it is either Huldah Hawkins Trigg or Mary Scott Stephens.
     Lucy married Alexander Bennett Hawkins in December 1868. Alex was a nephew of Lucy's stepmother, Huldah. Alex and Lucy lived at the Hawkins farm behind Wilderness Church, where they raised eight children.
     Sudie Stephens married Oscar Beadles Todd in January 1869. Oscar's family owned Todd's Tavern before the Civil War. Sudie and Oscar lived on a farm opposite the railroad from Rosemount. They never had children.


No comments:

Post a Comment