The photograph shown here serves as Passed Time's nod to our sixteenth president on his 207th birthday. Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-April 14, 1865) has been impersonated by many in the years since his assassination. Of those, Daniel Day Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln in the film, Lincoln is probably one of the best known representations.
Regarding film portrayals of Lincoln, one blogger states the earliest movie about Lincoln was made in 1911 (she also suggests more in-depth research might uncover earlier movies).* According to the International Movie Database 327 movies have been made which include Lincoln as a character. Given their celebrity status, film actors are fairly easy to research. Finding historical impersonators who impersonated historical figures proves a trickier proposition for no impersonator data base exists. At least, I do not know of any such database.
Ben Chapin was the earliest known Lincoln impersonator. In the 1880's when he began his trade he evoked "revulsion from Lincoln's son Robert and awe from Mark Twain."** Others upheld the tradition and acted as Lincoln for plays, film, school events, and historical reenactments. As far as this photograph is concerned the only clues about who this impersonator and "Daddy Ford"might have been come from the photo and the box in which it was found.
Like many items found on Passed Time, this one came from a large box of photographs and, as per usual, most were unidentified. Yet, one family photo in the box identified its subjects as the Wilmington Delaware Overdeers. As I familiarized myself with the box's contents, I noticed a lot of the subjects of the photographs resembled members from the Overdeer photograph--many photos will probably prove to be related to that family. What of Daddy Ford? So far I cannot make a match to a Ford Overdeer, Fordham Overdeer, or any variant of that name but there is always the hope that a family member will fill in information. As of this moment, I believe the subjects posing with Lincoln may be part of the Overdeer family. (Not that I don't enjoy everyone's email, but I will save you the trouble in this case, by answering your question now. Yes, I will be posting the Overdeer photos on PT--in due time, I owe some people articles they have requested).
The box also contained a little booklet titled, Picture Taking with the Brownie Camera No. 2 by Eastman Kodak Co. It has a copyright date of 1913--which may give us an approximate date for when the "Daddy Ford" picture was taken. The photos in the box appear to range from the late 1800's to early 1900's.
The last clue is the notation on the back of the photo. As seen here, it states, "Daddy Ford in the West Picture in the middle." Unfortunately, if we are talking "West" as in "West of Delaware" that does not narrow down the search at all, mainly because a good portion of the country is west of Delaware.*** Even if the person marking the photo truly meant the "West," such as New Mexico, Colorado, etc. that is still a big expanse to cover and there might have been many impersonators roaming the area.
So there you have it, Daddy Ford and this Lincoln impersonator were in the West in the early 1900's when the photograph was snapped. Now that that has been narrowed down, perhaps someone will recognize the impersonator, Daddy Ford, the little girl, or the area in which they were photographed. Until then, Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln. Best, Pat
*For a fun read about Lincoln's movie impersonators, I suggest A Legacy of Lincolns: A Look at the Actors Who've Portrayed the President by Amanda Mae Meyncke.
**Roth, Stacy F. Past Into Present: Effective Techniques for First-Person Historical Interpretation. University of North Carolina Press, 2000. p. 34
***Pronounced Del-a-where, it is a tiny state wedged between larger states. The confusion over whether Delaware exists or not comes largely from the fact that when the media covers hurricanes, snowstorms, and other such occurences, coverage often fails to mention the entire state of Delaware. Coverage instead focuses on surrounding cities such as D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Wilmington...North Carolina, of course.
This results in relatives and friends trying to call and ensure the safety of Delaware residents. As no single phone call can pentetrate the barrage of communications, everyone eventually comes to believe Del-a-where and its citizens were, in fact, fictitious. As such, movies and tv shows fail to include Delaware when showing a map of the United States. It is a vicious cycle, my friends.
--Copyright © 2016 Passed Time. All Rights Reserved.--