Thursday, December 8, 2011

Just An Umbrella or Ancestral Heirloom?

Thomas M. & Nancy J. (Sizemore) Hardy, Christian Co, KY

The above image is a copy of a tintype photo. The original measures about 2 x 3 inches and was originally housed in a photo album owned by my second great grandmother, Martha Sizemore Hardy. The subjects of the photo are Thomas M. Hardy and his wife Nancy J. Sizemore. Nancy was Martha’s older sister. Thomas was the twin brother to Martha’s husband, Joshua L. Hardy. There are actually two originals of the photograph, although in this one, you can better see the umbrella Thomas is holding. Nancy holds what looks like a folded fan in her lap. At first, the fact that his arm rests on an umbrella doesn’t stand out. Perhaps it was rainy the day of the photo shoot? Research into Thomas’s ancestry leads me to believe that there may be more of a significance to this.

Thomas and Joshua Hardy were listed together in a biographical sketch in Perrin’s County of Christian, Kentucky written in 1884. The entry states that they were sons of Bird Hardy and his wife Tiersey Tyre. It goes on to say they were born in Montgomery County, Tennessee and moved to Trigg County, Kentucky around the age of 10 where they resided for about thirteen years before coming to Christian County. A family record of Bird & Tiersey Tyre lists their birth dates as well as that of their children, along with listings of some of the family deaths. One of the deaths included that of Elizabeth Tyer who “departed this life 5th November 1846.”

Checking into Montgomery County records, I found that Elizabeth Tire, the widow of Thomas Tire, dec’d, was appointed guardian of Michael Tire, Counsel Tire, Stephen Tire, Lewis Tire, Trasey Tire [sic], Mitchell Tire and Thomas Tire, all infants of the said Thomas Tire, dec’d. She was also appointed as one of the administrators of Thomas’ estate on 5 March 1805. Elizabeth was listed as the head of household in Montgomery County in the 1820 census. In 1830, Bird Hardy was listed there with an additional female aged 50-60 living with him as well. This was likely Elizabeth. She probably moved with them to Kentucky around 1837.

When Thomas Tire died, an account of the sale of his personal property taken 15 March 1805 was recorded in County Will Book A. Thomas had a large amount of personal property; the account took four pages to list everything. Included were many interesting items such as a tin horn, two bibles, a dictionary, a looking glass, a set of shoemaker’s tools & bench, a basket and carpenters tools, coopers tools, wool & cotton cards and a linen wheel. One of the items listed on the first page of the account was “1 Umbarella” which sold for $5.87. The coopers tools sold for a similar price and a saddle & bridle sold for $5.50. Elizabeth purchased many of the items listed for sale, including the umbrella.

Part of Thomas Tire (dec'd) inventory, March 1805, Montgomery Co, TN

Now, umbrellas were not a very common item among our ancestors. An excerpt from RL Chambers' Book of Days, Vol. 1 (1864) at 241-44, states, “About thirty years ago, there was living in Taunton, a lady who recollected when there were but two umbrellas in that town; one belonged to a clergyman, who, on proceeding to his duties on Sunday, hung up the umbrella in the church porch, where it attracted the gaze and admiration of the townspeople coming to church.” (emphasis added).

So could the item Thomas shows off in his photograph for posterity be an ancestral heirloom? What do you think?

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