Many-Faced Portrait

b_STURGES Wallace Eva Clara WATSON Frank

How many faces do you see in this moody 1870s Victorian portrait?  I’ll provide my answer at the end of the post.  This antique cabinet photo features the Sturges siblings; Wallace, Eva, and Clara, as well as Eva’s husband Frank Watson.  According to writing on the reverse Frank and Clara are standing.

1982 Nov 25 CHATTERTON STURGES Home Lansing State Journal Lansins MI

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The Sturges siblings were the children of Augustus L. and Sarah (Chatterton) and for a time they resided in the historical house discussed in the above newspaper article from the November 25, 1982 edition of the Lansing State Journal.  Interestingly, the report includes portions of a letter written by their mother in 1851 in which she discusses life and the people of Meridian including that she’s earing 10 shillings a week as a teacher and how the stagecoach passes by twice a day.


b2_STURGES Wallace Eva Clara WATSON Frank

Wallace, the oldest Sturges child, took up farming like his father and did not marry until 1902 when he was 47.  His bride, Miss Daisy Coston, was just 17 years old. They had two children, Ruth and Wendell.  When Wallace passed away at the age of 86 he was laid to rest in Glendale Cemetery in Okemos.

Eva, 19, married Frank Watson in 1874  and had one child, Blanche, in 1880.  Eva died at the age of 66 and is buried Riverside Cemetery.

Lamentably, the youngest sibling, Clara, succumbed to brain fever (inflammation of the brain possibly caused by encephalitis or meningitis) at the age of 27.  Her final resting place is in the Glendale Cemetery.   At twenty-one she married Charles H. Hewitt and had three children that are known; Mable V. born in 1885 and two infant daughters who died at birth, one on April 4, 1881, and another on April 17, 1882.  Charles remarried in 1888 to Miss Mabel Parks. Wallace Sturges was a witness at the nuptials.

I found 16 faces (if you count halves.)  Are we close?
*update! It’s been brought to my attention that I definitely missed a face.  The horse would make 17!

Ans_STURGES Wallace Eva Clara WATSON Frank

Census records
Find A Grave
Michigan death records
Michigan marriage records
Lansing State Journal, Lansing, Michigan

6 thoughts on “Many-Faced Portrait

  1. Interesting. My husband grew up near East Lansing. His German family settled in the area shortly after the Civil War. My daughter attended Michigan State University, so I’m sure we’ve driven by the site of this old house many times.

    I’ve done some research for another project on Daniel J. Hibbard, the man who started the stage coach service that is likely the one you mention. Hibbard was an early settler in Jackson, Michigan. Eventually his stage coach business made him a very wealthy man.

    There are 17 faces if you include the horse!


    1. Of course! The horse makes 17! Great catch! And how interesting that your family has ties to East Lansing. I look forward to reading more about Daniel Hibbard if he makes it into one of your future blog posts!

      Liked by 1 person

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