Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Loftin Family of Atlanta, Georgia

These are without a doubt some of my favorite photos I've ever come across.  Colorized carte-de-visites (or CDVs) and some with names attached.  I just knew I HAD to find out who "Our Little Carrie Belle" was.

First, a bit more about the photos.  For those who aren't photo-geeks, CDVs are roughly 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches in size, and were the popular photo format from about the mid 1850s to the 1870s, when the larger cabinet cards became the more popular option.  Although not foolproof, I've found this is a good way to get a rough idea of when a photo was taken.  Now back to the photos at hand.

To start with, I had two captions to work with.  The first, "Our Little Carrie Belle", and the second, "Mrs. F. M. Loftin".  And although the rest of the photos did not have names attached, I knew they were all likely part of the same family because they were all taken at the G. J. Gables Gallery in Augusta, Georgia.  Some were older than others to be sure, but they all appeared to be from the same family.  To Ancestry I went!

Luckily for me, the 1870 census recorded a 3 year-old "Carrie Bell Lofton" in Atlanta, Georgia, living with her father, F. M. Lofton age 27, her mother Carrie Bell (Oakman) Lofton age 20, and her younger brother Frank Lofton age 1.  Her father "F. M." as it turns out, was also named Francis.  So as it turns out, both children were named after their parents.

I had to wonder what the elder Carrie Belle Loftin & Francis M. Loftin's lives were like.  Their daughter Carrie Belle was born in 1867, just two years after the end of the Civil War, and 3 years after the burning of Atlanta.  I could not find anything to show if Francis had served in the war, but even if he didn't, it assuredly was a daily thought.

Sadly, I found that Francis Loftin died young in 1873, leaving his wife and 3 children.  I then searched the 1880 census wondering what happened to Carrie and her children?  I was in for a shocker!  As it turned out, Carrie Belle Oakman Loftin would marry the photographer G. J. Gables in about 1875.  The same man who had taken the photo of her daughter as a baby.  They would eventually have two children together.

Her marriage to Mr. Gables would not be her last, however, as she would outlive him as well.  Carrie would marry her final husband, William Lomas in 1903, whom she would also outlive.

The younger Carrie Belle Loftin, as it turned out, married a man named David Patman Daniell and had many children.  Her mother, Carrie Belle Oakman Loftin Gables Lomas (talk about a lot of names!), died in 1921 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Now I know how these photos likely started their journey to me some 80 years later!)

Although I can't identify most of these people exactly, I believe the man is probably Francis Loftin himself as the green chair he's leaning on appears to be the same one his wife is standing next to in one of the photos above.  It's possible they were taken at the same time, perhaps for their wedding.

If George J. Gables was the photo colorist, he was an excellent one.  Whoever did the careful work paid extreme care and attention to even the smallest details, and they really do bring the subjects to life.

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