David Thomas, son of Benjamin and brother of Ananias was born 1773 and married 1797 to Mary Presley, the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Lee Presley. This family moved from Anson County NC to Chester County SC around 1800. Mary died prior to 1830 and David married again to a person also named Mary. Some wrongly believe David’s second wife is the daughter of Thomas Satterwhite while it’s more plausible her maiden name is Brakefield. David died 1845 and his much younger second wife Mary was born ca. 1802 and died prior to the 1880 census.

In the late 1990’s I was guided to speak with a lady in York SC who was known to be most knowledgeable on the family. Forgive me as I can’t remember her name. A very kind soul, she allowed me to copy a framed photograph traditionally believed to be the second wife of David. But for the life of me, it just seemed the person photographed was too young. I’ve recently learned more about the image and of family traits that make me question my early stance.

Using the collodion process, the original photograph of the above was a type of photographic image known as an ambrotype. Unique and unable to be copied as is accomplished with modern film processes, ambrotypes are projected and printed onto glass. Following the introduction of daguerreotypes in the 1840’s and predating tin-types of the 1860’s, ambrotypes such as this can be dated to the late 1840’s through the 1850’s.

Is the picture above that of Mary who is enumerated in the 1850 census as being 48 years old? Is it possible she padded her age a little to seem more respectful in age? Or, could this be a picture of another person that’s been misidentified for the many years?

Family lore holds strongly to the belief that the photo is in fact that of David’s second wife. And to their credit, the ladies in the family hold up well to the advances of time. This is certainly a wonderful photograph and an important record for the descendants of David Thomas of Chester County SC.

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