Monday, June 25, 2012

A Portrait of Home and Family

Recently, Walter Ritchie featured the home of Augustus and Ellen McKinstry at 886 Columbia Street on his blog An Intimate Portrait of Home: Domestic Interiors in Upstate New York, 1800-1914.  To add to the intimate portrait of the Augustus and Ellen's home life, I recently rediscovered this photograph of their two eldest children: Jennie and George Augustus.   

The picture was taken in 1859, when Jennie was 8 and George was 4. Augustus and Ellen McKinstry had two more children: Nellie, born in 1858, and Susie, born in 1862. These are the children who, in 1910, sold their parents' house to Delbert Dinehart, who demolished it to build the yellow brick Colonial Revival mansion that stands on the site today. 

A curiosity about the portrait is the flag that young George is holding. One of the stars on the flag is larger than the others--a phenomenon that has occurred only twice in the history of the American flag and only once prior to 1859: in 1837, on the 26-star Great Star Flag. Like the flag in the portrait of the McKinstry children, the Great Star Flag had one larger star in the center of the blue field, but unlike the flag George is holding, the rest of the stars were arranged to form a five-pointed star. 

In 1859, when the picture was taken, there were 33 states, and 33 stars representing them on the flag. All the stars were the same size, and they were arranged in five rows of seven, seven, five, seven, and seven.

1 comment:

  1. Another curiosity is sober little Jennie's off-the-shoulder dress. Seems risqué, but then what do I know about girl's fashion in 1859? Beautiful children, though, and it's nice to have an "intimate portrait" to go with Walter Ritchie's fascinating post about their home.