I have been fortunate to have hundreds of photographs of my ancestors prior to 1915. Some of them labeled, some not. On one line of my family, the last name was Newgent. Among my large supply of Newgent photos, I found a picture that had the words, “Granny Newgent” written across the back. When thinking of ancestors, it is easy to forget their married name because in my identification system I use maiden names for my female ancestors. So I began the journey to identifying this photograph. This photograph was with other Newgent photgraphs that were taken in Putnam County, Indiana.
What could this picture tell me?
I noted the clothing appeared to be similar to popular styles in the early 1800s, yet the photograph itself was a cabinet card. I could estimate the date anywhere from 1870s to the early 1900s. So right away, I have some conflicting information regarding the style of the clothing and the date of the photograph. My ancestors’ generally lived in Indiana for nearly 200 years, coming from Kentucky and Virginia around the turn of the 19th century. Despite the fact that this is a black and white photo, it can be observed that she had blue eyes. Her age appears to be 70+ years.
Comparing to my genealogy
I began with my Newgent ancestors.
Effie Heady (b.1868 in Putnam Co., Ind.) married Henry Newgent, also of Putnam County.
Luckily I had other pictures of Effie Heady, she is pictured here with her husband Henry Newgent. This picture was taken in circa 1915. Effie and Henry appear to be around 50 years old in this picture. Conclusion: Effie is not the right age to be the Granny Newgent in the earlier picture.
The next generation was Henry’s parents. Lewis Newgent, b. 1838 in Putnam Co., Indiana married Julia Ann Brothers. Lewis and Julia Ann had three children. Harvey Newgent, b.1860; Henry, b. 1864; Arizona, a daughter born in 1868. Checking the 1870 census shows Henry Newgent in Putnam County, living with his parents and brother and sister. However, the family can’t be found in the 1880 census. I found the following death records:
Lewis P. Newgent – died May 9, 1871 aged 33 yrs.
Julia Ann Newgent – died Nov. 8, 1872 aged 28 yrs.
Arizona Newgent – died Nov. 16, 1872 aged 4 yrs.
Conclusion: Julia Ann Brothers was not the Granny Newgent in the picture.
The next generation was Edward Newgent and Elizabeth Pugh. This couple immigrated from Kentucky to the raw wilderness of Indiana in the early 1820’s. They had twelve children in the rustic pioneer home and had regular encounters with local Native Americans.
Elizabeth Pugh, also known as Betsy, was born in 1801 in Shelby County Kentucky, where she met and married Edward Newgent. Elizabeth was the daughter of Richard Pugh, a doctor from North Carolina. Despite the statistics for raising children in this harsh environment, eleven of her children lived to adulthood. A remarkable occurrence for this time and location. I have always wondered if perhaps it wasn’t just luck that so many of her children made it to adulthood. Perhaps some of her father’s knowledge for doctoring had made its way to Elizabeth, giving her more methods and insights in caring for those during illness.
In a biography of Edward Newgent, of Putnam County, Ind, a description about Elizabeth Pugh Newgent.
Mr Newgent often made trips to Kentucky on horseback, bringing back apple and locust trees, three of the apple trees still standing. He was active in township affairs, holding many local offices, as a Democrat. He is buried on the farm in the family cemetery. His widow survived to a remarkable age, dying in her ninety-third year, in March, 1893. She became head of the family at her husband’s death and reared the children, taking charge of everything until 1878. She remained on the old homestead until her death.
Conclusion: Granny Newgent is Elizabeth Pugh, born 1801 in Kentucky. Often older individuals wear clothing styles typical of their younger years, which accounts for the older style of clothing. The age of Elizabeth fits well within the date range of the photograph.
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