Saturday, January 05, 2013

Enoch And The Boers


I don't have all that many military pictures in my family collection. The two great fountain-heads of my collection of old photographs - my father and my mothers' Uncle Fowler - were both machine fitters and held back in reserved occupations during the great conflicts of the twentieth century. But I do have a couple of intriguing photographs which almost appear to be from an earlier age.

My main photograph is so faded and out of focus that it is impossible to make out any detail on the uniforms or the flag. It is, however, in the family collection and, as I am the first annoying curator of that collection to add "outside" photographs, it is likely to feature a family member. I have always wondered whether it included my grandfather, Enoch Burnett, and was of a training company of volunteers around the time of the Boer Wars.

The second photograph is much clearer and it would seem that the uniforms are the same. The young chap at the bottom of the picture looks remarkably like my father in his youth, but the dates would all be wrong. I therefore wonder if it is, in fact, his father, Enoch. I have no other pictures of Enoch as a young man and therefore I have nothing to compare it with. Enoch was born in 1878 and therefore he would have been 21 at the time of the Second Boer War. By the time the First World War came around he was in his late 30s, and, as my final picture shows, looking much older than the youth in the photograph.


So my fourth - or is it my fifth - year of Sepia Saturday starts off with a mystery, which is perfect, because that is what old photographs are all about: mysteries wrapped up in enigmas and printed in a faded sepia tint. Happy 2013 to all my fellow Sepians.

You can get 2013 off to a sepia start by following all the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog

19 comments:

  1. Military uniforms offer so many clues and yet can be very challenging in unfocused sepia. The last photo looks so much like a charcoal drawing. But as you say, Alan, a mystery is a fine way to kick off the New Year. Cheers!

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  2. I feel sure that those uniforms are for a Volunteer Regiment of the pre-Great War period, shortly before or after the turn of the century. Compare these with some of the later ones featured in my summary of Military uniforms in Victorian and Edwardian Derbyshire.

    I think Mike has a point about the last image - it looks significantly retouched to me.

    Thanks for sharing these enigmatic family portraits.

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  3. This is special Alan!! I lpve Sepia Saturday,
    and I know someones of our English family were in the II war but we dont have pictures.

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  4. It's interesting and valuable to ponder these photos. You're probably the last generation in your family to which they would make any sense. If you can add information then succeeding generations will understand.

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  5. I think the young man reclining and the other one could be the same. I wish I could see if the reclining man's eyebrows are pointed. I think the lips, ears and mouth resemble.

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  6. Alan, try putting both images of the possible young Enoch and the known slightly older Enoch into photoshop, superimpose them and see if the ears are a match. I did this recently on a couple of war photo images where I thought it was the same person in the 2 pictures and was pleased to get an ear match :).

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  7. Yes the young lad does look a lot like your Dad....So,maybe Enoch? Best Wishes For The New Year Alan and,yes,some supping needs doing!

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  8. Oh, surely those two are the same chap? I'm useless at deciphering old photos but I would bet on that. One of these days I'm going to dive into my family history, properly...

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  9. Intriguing photos, Alan. I only have photos of my elder brother in Fleet Air Arm uniform, and none of other members of the family - not even of me in the Signals. To have some back to the Boer War must be something special.

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  10. I agree with Kristin: the reclining fellow and last MUST be the same. Lips, ears, mouth, even nose - a match! But I'm no help on the uniforms.

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  11. The last picture does look like the youth in the previous one except for the mustache and glasses.

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  12. They sure do look alike to me. That kid with the cigarette doesn't even look old enough to smoke, but he is, along with your young grandfather fighting a war.

    I enjoyed this post very much; and as you mentioned the mystery is one of the best parts. Something to figure out in the future.

    Kathy M.

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  13. Was you grandfather's mustache handed down to you? I'm thinking it looks a bit like a family heirloom.

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  14. Speaking of legacy, I note that mine to Sepia Saturday would seem to be the monicker "Sepian" as many are using it now. The Homo Sepian, the hominide that looks back on his history. I should have copyrighted that one!!! I guess I missed my claim to fame here!!
    :)~
    As for Enoch, you may be right about it being him at the bottom of that 2nd pic. The morphology looks just right. You should show a progression of the mustache through the generations, Enoch, your father, you, and so forth...
    :D~
    Happy New Year!!
    HUGZ

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  15. I agree with everyone that they look remarkably alike. It's the mystery and puzzle-solving that keep us interested, isn't it?

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  16. Somedays the ears look alike..I would say that is a match..you look much like your Grandfather..he was very handsome:)

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  17. The mystery makes it fun and the searching for answers sometimes an impossible feat.

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  18. Are you sure that's not just a photo of yourself that you doctored up? (kidding) You do truly resemble the man. I'll have to have a look on Ancestry and see what I come up with.

    Kat

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  19. I hope you solve the mystery Alan. A cousin perhaps?

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