Friday, January 7, 2011

A Portrait of James Halls and Family

Just prior to Christmas I was contacted by an individual who had a picture of James Halls and family (from the Exeter, Ontario area). I was very surprised to say the least. The name of the person was not any that I had connected with the Halls family, though I had seen it in relation to Devon. It was a beautiful photo, a formal studio portrait taken at Senior's in Exeter, about 1890 judging by the ages and style of dress. Sadly not every name can be associated with a face, but now I have a picture, so it is only a matter of time. It is the first group picture I have of that generation.

It was, all in all, a wonderful Christmas present.

The picture itself got me looking at the details in the picture, and what struck me most were the hands of Mary Ann and James.

James' hands are quite obviously arthritic, no doubt from a lifetime of working with stone and brick and mortar, farming and farm equipment, in all types of weather. His knees also look odd. I recognize the drape of his pants over his knees from the way my father's knees looked covered by the drape of his pants. James knees are terribly arthritic and swollen just like my father.

Mary Ann's hands are quite different. They don't appear arthritic, but the skin looks awful. It appears scabby or scaley. It looks terribly painful. When you look at Mary Ann's face she is terribly stern, almost as if she is gritting her teeth in pain. Admittedly her hair style is very severe too, but she looks not at all comfortable.

James looks very much the loved patriarch of the family. A full head of white hair, a full white beard, and with a daughter resting on his knee. He looks successful, comfortable, and content with his life. Obviously father and daughter are very close. I suspect that she is the youngest, Lillian (Lilly) Halls.

The rest of the family simply seems to be there, just in the picture. They seem content too, healthy, happy, and young. At least they seem that way as much as one can tell from a photo from a time when you needed to hold still for five to ten seconds.

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