With delight, I saw a photo posted by a distant cousin on Veteran’s Day of a Civil War soldier. “It’s our grandfather Tower,” he wrote on Facebook. Wow, I’d never seen this photo before.
Then I paused and a few skeptical thoughts crossed my mind. How could I be sure that it really was our mutual ancestor who served in the 93rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry? When I queried to be sure it was Abraham Bates Tower, my cousin said that he’s been told that it was, but “How that was authenticated, I don’t know, so I ain’t gonna swear on a stack of Bibles.”
So now I have a mystery to solve. Can I prove that it is who we want it to be? Here’s how I’ll proceed.
- I’ll check the photo against some that I have showing him later in life. This is complicated by his having a beard in his other pictures.
- I’ll show the photo to another distant cousin who works on the family tree. Maybe she knows more about it.
- I’ll run the photo through some Internet searches using Tineye, Google and Bing. Tineye looks for a photo to match the one you have. If the photo shows up on the web, there may be some information about who it is.
- I’ll post the photo to a Civil War forum or a re-enators site to see what they can tell me about the uniform and the accessories in the photo.
- I could also send the photo to the Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor. I recently heard her speak at a genealogy conference in Orlando. She has a book titled Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album and a number of others about identifying photos.
- Another method is to post the photo online like I’m doing here, then wait for comments. If someone else claims this as their ancestor, they will contact me.
Well, it didn’t take long to find out about who was in the photo. Click the link to read about the results.