Bucklin Blood

James A. Bucklin circa 1880s.

This is not my favorite photo.  It was taken at some time in the late 1800s.  Since it is a photo of my great great grandfather James A. Bucklin, it was taken before his death date of May 15, 1890.  He was 69 years old at the time of his death and it is difficult to tell how old he is in the photo.  The reason I’m not fond of the photo is the same reason it is difficult to tell how old he his – it has been tampered with.

I think it was some combination of painting or coloring on a photographic negative.  So I can’t really tell what was actually part of the original image.  Was there any hair on the top of his head?  Was this the alternative they had back then for Hair Club for Men?  Was his beard that full?  I doubt it.  But it could have been somewhat long.  Like I said, it’s hard to tell.

But nevertheless I do like it because it is an old image of my ancestor and there aren’t that many of him around.  He was born in 1821 in Palmer, Massachusetts, which was before practical photography became popular.  At least there is an image of him.  He came from a long line of Bucklins that lived in Massachusetts.  Sadly, there are no photos of those previous generations.  He was actually the fifth generation born in the United States.  I should really say North America, since the first Bucklin arrived in 1635 in Hingham, Massachusetts.

There was some question about the connection to that long line of Bucklins in Massachusetts, but that has been settled for the most part.  Still, I was beginning to wonder about the connection myself because of the lack of DNA matches that come from that family line.  There is no question about the Landry, Phenice, and Stanbrough connection.  I have lots of DNA matches with those names in their family tree.

But then again, those family names are also associated with large families.  But the family name that has the most matches is the Patureau family.  I keep thinking I have tracked down all of my third cousins in that line and then another DNA match pops up with a new Patureau name.  And they are usually big families, so I’m adding twenty or thirty or more names to my tree.  I have found hundreds of cousins along the Patureau line.

The reason I have DNA matches with some of them is that there are so many available to test.  I kept wondering why I didn’t have any Bucklin third cousins show up as matches.  Then it dawned on me that there must not be any at all.  I wrote a sad story about one of James’s sons Joseph.  He was married three times and had four children (or so).  But they mostly died young and none of them produced offspring.

The same is true for the other children of James, except for his son Louis.  Louis was my great grandfather.  He and his wife Addie Hine Bucklin had a dozen children, so I have lots of second cousins.  But that doesn’t prove James’s connection to the Massachusetts Bucklin line.  It just shows that we all descend from James.  And once you get past third cousins, your chances of matching a distant relative decreases.

Thankfully, it is not impossible.  I do have one match that shows the connection.  One.  (I say that with emphasis, but not enough to deserve an exclamation point.)  I do have a fourth cousin once removed who descends from James’s brother William Livere “Willie” Bucklin.  That was exciting, but I would like to have a few more.

Actually I do have many more that point back to the Massachusetts connection.  James’s father was born in Barnstable, and there are a lot of our (mine, mom’s, Aunt Loris’s, and Uncle Austin’s) DNA matches that have ancestors from that same area.  I just can’t tell who our common ancestors were.

So if you are related to me through this man, know that you too have deep roots in colonial Massachusetts.


  • Here is the unedited Crayon Portrait. You can see a faint wisp of something at the top of his head. The paper it was printed on aged and discolored, but the white paint stayed nearly as white as it was the day it was painted.

    I assume the hair at the top is a comb over, but it was not painted by the original touch up artist. When it cleaned it up and colorized it, I could see there was something up there so I made it match the rest of his hair. It likely was thinner looking than that.

    I believe the style of photography was called Crayon Portrait. It produced a faint photographic image that needed to be touched up. You can read about it here.

    Unedited Crayon Portrait

  • When Mom and I first saw the portraits, they were in one of the Ruth Bucklin Bruchhaus’ kids bedrooms (nearest the front door). Who knows how long they had been there. But they weren’t in the livingroom with all the Bucklin and Bruchhaus family history photos. There was no writing on the portraits but Aunt Edna confirmed it was James. She could not say for sure the other was Mary (but its clearly a set). Maybe there wasn’t room in the living room, but I wonder if Ruth (being younger) knew they were family but didn’t know who. Seems unlikely since she was the family historian, but its possible.

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