If you’re like me, seeing the faces of people from long ago brings an instant connection, even more so than reading about their lives, or the times in which they lived. There’s just something about seeing someone “face to face” that transports them from their time directly into yours.
I’ve said this before, but much more of the past has survived than any of us is aware of, and this is especially true when talking about family history. Photos, stories, documents and so much more can survive in the collection of one descendant, while other descendants remain unaware that these items have survived the passage of time. One positive effect of the internet is that it is so much easier than it used to be to bring these items to the surface, and share them with others who would consider them to be priceless.
One such item is a portrait of a Blakeney from long ago. Anyone who has spent any amount of time researching the Blakeney family has likely heard of John “Jack” Blakeney, III. Jack was the son of John Blakeney, Jr., and grandson of Captain John. What he is even more notable for is the fact that he was the father of twenty children, among his three wives. It was while poking around ancestry.com recently that I stumbled onto something fantastic – a portrait of John “Jack” Blakeney.
I always try to have a certain degree of skepticism for items found on the internet that purport to be a portrait of a long-deceased ancestor. Many times I have seen what is supposed to be a photo or portrait of an individual, but it would be impossible for the photo to actually be the person in question – clothing styles don’t match the period, the photographer’s stamp is in a town that the supposed ancestor never lived in, or my favorite, the person photographed died before the invention of photography.
For this reason, I contacted the person who had attached not only the portrait of Jack Blakeney, but also one of his third wife, Rosa Vick Blakeney and their children Preston Brooks Blakeney and Rochel Edward Blakeney. I was hoping she had more direct information about the portraits, and hadn’t just copied them from another online family tree. Fortunately, she had received copies of the portraits directly from descendants who could give a full account of the ownership of both portraits, and the information is sound.
The portrait of Jack Blakeney comes from the late Rochel Blakeney, Jr., who had passed a copy directly to his cousin. It is this cousin who then shared it with the descendant who had attached it to the profile of John “Jack” Blakeney, III on her ancestry.com family tree. The actual image appears to be a drawing – contemporary from the time of the original portrait – done from the original photograph. I have seen numerous examples of this of other ancestors from the nineteenth-century.
The portrait showing Rosa Vick Blakeney with her two sons can also be authenticated, having been passed down through the generations from Preston Blakeney. It is his great granddaughter who shared it via ancestry.com. This portrait has been transferred to canvas from the original photo by another descendant.
Long story short, both portraits can be authenticated, and so we can now see the face of John “Jack” Blakeney, his third wife, Rosa Vick, and their children Preston and Rochel. And so without any further ado, here they are.