Week 4: Curious. “Who is this Man?”

January Theme: Foundations

Here is an unidentified tin type.  

Levi Basim’s granddaughter identified this picture as a Basim family member but didn’t know exactly who. There is nothing on the back, and no case of any kind. It has been estimated by others, based on the clothing, and brownish tint, that it was taken between 1870 – 1885, and the man in it is likely middle class, aged about 40. I may have unintentionally misled folks about the brownish tint, though. The original is very dark, so I edited it to make out the features better. I may have sabotaged my own investigation. Here is the original – Is it still considered “brownish”?

Levi was born 03 Oct 1838 in Clarion, PA. He married Ellen Martin in 1861, and they had nine children.  They moved to Macon Co, Missouri about 1868. (Daughter Hattie was born in PA jan 1867. Daughter Nettie was born Jun 1869 in Missouri.) In 1894, Levi moved his family first to Sewanee, TN, and soon after, to Bowie, MD, where he died in 1906.

Here is a photo of Levi and his wife. The photo was taken in Missouri, so must have been between 1867 and 1894. If we say they look to be about 40 years old, that would date it to 1878. Tintypes are mirror images. The editing process that leads me to color a picture wrong can also help me flip the image, redeeming itself (and me.) So here is the flipped image. Compared to the tintype Levi’s hair is a bit thinner, he appears to have more of an earlobe than the man in the tintype, and Levi sports a beard. Although there is a resemblance, I’m not convinced it’s him.

Levi was one of 8 children. He had three brothers:

Andrew Basim was born about 1837 in Clarion, and died 1864 at Fredricksburg, during the Civil War. This tin type cannot be him, as he died before the time frame, and was only 26.

Calvin Basim was born in 1841. He also fought in the Civil War. His leg was ‘shot off” but he survived, went on to marry in 1877, and had five children. I have one photo of him, taken in 1890. His face is much rounder than the man in the tin type.

There was a third brother, George, born in 1845. I have very little information about him, and no picture. In 1870 he is living with Levi’s family in Missouri. In 1910, he is still (or again) in Missouri. George died in Beaumont, Jefferson Co, TX, in 1919. His death certificate says he was married to Martha. He would be the right age to match a 40ish year old middle class man in 1885. But no way to know.

Levi’s oldest son, Elmer, was born in 1862. I have a tin type that I believe is of him in his Spanish American War uniform. This tintype is slightly larger than the unknown picture. Elmer also resembles this man but he doesn’t fit the dates. Unless the dates are wrong. …Which they may well be.

Here is the tintype I believe to be of Elmer, and a closeup, compared with the flipped image of “unknown.” If I’m wrong about the date of the photo, I could totally believe this is Elmer. Although I think Elmer’s jaw is a little more square, and his nose seems shorter.

Here are a few more pics of Elmer – one younger – guessing around 1890, one older (1915). If the unknown tintype is indeed Elmer, when was it taken?

What do you think? And why? I need all the help I can get.

PS. I feel the need to mention that, like most specialties, genealogy has it’s own terminology. “Curious” is genealogist-speak for nosey. It’s generally my driving force.


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