The Real Photo of Ferdinand Patureau Circa 1875

I’m pretty sure this is a drawing of the original photo that was taken around 1875.

For the longest time I’ve been aware of a “photo” of my great great grandfather Ferdinand Pierre Patureau.  A horrible version of the photo was used back in the 1990s as an invitation to Patureau family members to come together for a reunion.  The image was a Xerox copy of a copy of a drawing of a photo.  At least that’s what it looked like to me.  But it didn’t stop people from coming to the reunion and claiming that they were related to old Ferdinand.  The scan of the the image I have here is not as bad as the one used for the reunion.  In fact, I cleaned it up and restored it as best I could.  It was better than nothing.

Then a few years ago I got a better copy of the image from my dad’s first cousin Sis of the Patureau line.  I don’t know where she got her version, because it was definitely better than the one I had.  That one had already been edited.  I think some of the programs that restore photos use some type of algorithm that makes an image look more like a photographic image.  I think that’s what happened to this one.  I was thinking that it was a photo.  It was close enough to his likeness that I was able to recognize him in other photos.

Ferdinand Pierre Patureau in a photo from around 1875 in southern Louisiana.

Last November I went to the Pierre Ferdinand Patureau Collection (AC-824) at the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont, Texas.  I’ve shared some of the photos from that collection already.  My favorite photo from that collection is the Patureau family photo from 1864.  There is no question about that.  It is a definite favorite.  It is a photo of Ferdinand Pierre Patureau with his wife Marie Emma Landry Patureau and their children up to that point in time.  Even though it was before my great grandfather Vincent Maximilian Patureau (Grampa Max) had been born, it’s still my favorite.  Then there are runner-ups to that photo.  The real photo of Ferdinand Patureau is one of them.

As you can see in the photo, he looks a bit different.  Yet you can still tell that it is the same person.  He’s got the high forehead, the thin goatee, and the curly hair around his ears.  Another thing that makes me think the other image is a drawing is the detail shown in the clothes.  The lapel of the jacket is outlined, and the white tie outline keeps it from blending in with the shirt he was wearing.  I wondered if it might have been a crayon treatment of an old photo.

Mirror versions of the two sides of Ferdinand’s face. A very different look from one side to the other.

But then I realized what the main difference is.  His face is very asymmetrical in the photo.  Most people have slight differences on the two sides of their faces.  You’ll notice it more when you look at mirrored images.  There is even an app that will show you what you’d look like with one side or the other.  There’s an app for everything!  So it looks like the old drawing was almost an idealized version of the better looking side of his face.  You’d think that while they were at it, they could have drawn him with a hint of a smile on his face!

I’m not exactly sure of when the photo was taken.  He was born in LaRoche Chalais, France, on October  27, 1826.  He died in Plaquemine, Louisiana, on February 25, 1877, after having a terrible accident in his sawmill.  He looks older than he did in the 1864 photo, so I estimate that the photo was taken in 1875.  It was probably taken in Plaquemine.

I’m glad this old photo is being preserved in the collection in Beaumont.  Even though it’s not my favorite, I still like it a lot.

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