To the left is a photograph of a woman who is quite old. The entire internet genealogy community thinks without much proof that she’s Eve Becker Brakeman. There’s a little problem with this assumption. Eve died in Lake County, Ohio 27 April 1839. If I’ve got my facts straight they would have had to disinter her to take a picture of her. Following is what I found out about Daguerre’s invention of the photographic process.

On January 7, 1839, members of the French Académie des Sciences were shown products of an invention that would forever change the nature of visual representation: photography. The astonishingly precise pictures they saw were the work of Louis-Jacques- Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851), a Romantic painter and printmaker most famous until then as the proprietor of the Diorama, a popular Parisian spectacle featuring theatrical painting and lighting effects. Each daguerreotype (as Daguerre dubbed his invention) was a one-of-a-kind image on a highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper.

Not until 1838 had Daguerre’s continued experiments progressed to the point where he felt comfortable showing examples of the new medium to selected artists and scientists in the hope of lining up investors. François Arago, a noted astronomer and member of the French legislature, was among the new art’s most enthusiastic admirers. He became Daguerre’s champion in both the Académie des Sciences and the Chambre des Députés, securing the inventor a lifetime pension in exchange for the rights to his process. Only on August 19, 1839, was the revolutionary process explained, step by step, before a joint session of the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Beaux-Arts, with an eager crowd of spectators spilling over into the courtyard outside. Source - "Capturing the Light" by Watson & Rappaport. Chapter 18

Another source I found stated that Daguerre’s process did not make its way to the United States until the fall of 1839.

Much as I’d like to, I can’t agree with the majority that this is Eve Brakeman. She was dead before the information about “How to make a Daguerrotype” ever left Paris. No one I’ve contacted has any idea where the picture came from. Also, although someone might have managed to copy a daguerreotype and transfer the image to paper, the process for printing photographs on paper wasn’t commonly used until the 1850’s.

What I do know about Eve Becker Brakeman is that she lived to be 101 years old. She was born in Germany in 1738 and traveled with her family to the United States when she was young. She met and married Lodowick Brakeman (b. Brotzman) in Bergen Co, NJ in 1759. Lodowick spent much of his adult life in the Army so Eve moved from Army base to Army base while raising her family of 11 children. In 1780 Lodowick left military service and the family moved first to Montgomery County, New York and finally to Otsego County, New York where Lodowick died in 1813. Sometime after this Eve traveled to Lake County, Ohio, with her youngest son Henry. She lived with Henry’s family until she died in 1839.

How do I know all of this? In 1841 two of Eve’s sons, John and Henry, filed a claim for land based on their father’s Revolutionary War service. The file contains a wealth of information. It contains a copy of Lodowick’s will, the names of all the children and their spouses, the location (in 1841) of all the children, and - a charming addition - fraktur pictures *. Eve commissioned a fraktur painter to make a certificate showing the birth dates of all her children. When her children were grown they cut it apart and each of them took the piece with their own information on it. Several pieces were enclosed with the application as proof of birth dates.


We are descendants of Eve through her son John who died in Ashtabula Co, Ohio in 1853.

John’s daughter Susannah was another long lifer. She was born in 1793 and died 10 days short of her 87th birthday in October 1880. Susannah’s our 3th great grandmother. The descent from there goes: Susannah’s daughter Lovisa married C.O. Meacham, their daughter Estella married Cal Drew, our grandmother Mabel married C.A. Seward, you know the rest.

I’ve often wondered if the picture identified as Eve might actually be Susannah - the type of photograph (paper, sepia print) seems much closer to that time period (1870’s) and Susannah did live most of her life in the same geographic area as Eve.

The comparison I’m showing you here is what has haunted me about this picture from the beginning and why I really wish it could be properly identified.



?Eve? top
Me bottom.

the angle could be just a bit better but I’m almost convinced that those are the same pale green eyes that I’ve got. What do you think??

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