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Abraham Bates Tower: Photo Album

Updated on September 2, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.


Pictures of My Great-Great Grandfather

I feel lucky to find even a few photos of this ancestor born in 1837. Of course, his early days are not documented in photographs, but he lived a long life. He died in 1930.

This Civil War veteran and survivor of the notorious Andersonville Prison suffered poor health for the rest of his long life. I'm researching his life to write a book about him. The pictures shown here come from various branches of the family. In his old age, he visited his children and grandchildren in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

I hope that I can track down more of my distant cousins to see if they might have photos tucked away in shoe boxes or family albums. Here are the ones I've discovered so far.

(photo provided by Pat Ruble)

Abraham and Wife, Nancy Angeline (Long) Tower - and one of their granddaughters

Trying to Date the Photos

I'll put the photos in sequence as best I can, judging by the age of Abraham in the picture. This may be the earliest one I have of him. Nancy Angeline Tower died 4 August 1909, so the photo is before that date.

The earliest birth of a granddaughter that I have for them is 1888 (Minnie Mae Newton and Bertha Newton). Two of Abraham and Nancy's daughters married Newtons.

Abraham Tower - Formal Portrait

It's probable that this was taken during one of his visits to his son Reuben Theodore (Shorty) Tower in Prague, Oklahoma. I'm not seeing formal pictures by the McGhee family that he lived with in Tyro, Kansas, so it is unlikely that it was taken there.

Find the Clues in Your Family Photos

Who are these people? How are they related to you? Figuring out the clues in the old family photos is possible, with this book.

Uncovery Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs

Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs (PBS Ancestor)
Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs (PBS Ancestor)
I love this book. I've gotten many tips from it to help me sort out my photos by probable date. A few years ago, I was fortunate to hear the author speak at a genealogy conference and since then, I follow her blog and also buy all her books. She is the top expert on old photos. I cringe when I hear people say they had unidentified family photos so they just threw them all out. Never, never do that. Get this book and go to work. You might be surprised what you can figure out from the clothing, from the type of photo, and from other sources.

Many Thanks to

my mother, Gail Lee Martin, and to another historian in our family, Pat (Tower) Ruble for the pictures shown on this page.

Later Photo of Abraham and Nancy Angeline Tower

Notice that the beard is whiter here than in the photo of them with the baby.
Notice that the beard is whiter here than in the photo of them with the baby.

The photo above is before August 1909.

That's the year that Nancy Angeline (Long) Tower died.

Abraham Tower in Tyro, Kansas - There's a Christmas Decoration on the Wall, But I Have No Idea of the Year - Maybe 1914

The wallpaper is different from the photo of Abraham's grandson (below) but I'm guessing the pictures were taken about the same time. There are few Tower and McGhee family photos taken in Tyro, Kansas prior to 1920.
The wallpaper is different from the photo of Abraham's grandson (below) but I'm guessing the pictures were taken about the same time. There are few Tower and McGhee family photos taken in Tyro, Kansas prior to 1920. | Source
Abraham's grandson, Clarence Oliver McGhee. The calendar is for 1914. I'm guessing the photo of Abraham is from that same year.
Abraham's grandson, Clarence Oliver McGhee. The calendar is for 1914. I'm guessing the photo of Abraham is from that same year. | Source

My Favorite Photo - of my great-great grandfather

Found a Date for the Photo Above

It was taken in Prague, Oklahoma in October 1912 for Abraham's 73rd birthday. He looks quite distinguished here.

Four Generation Tower Family Photo - Possibly 1917

Analysis of the 4 Generation Photo

It looks like the same suit and vest as in the other formal photo of Abraham. I think there's a tiny lapel pin on the right side, possibly a veteran's pin of some sort.

His beard is trimmed a bit more in this photo.

The baby is William Troy Tower (born 4 August 1916 in Oklahoma). The child is the son of Charles Edward Tower, grandson of William Warren Tower and great-grandson of Abraham Tower.

Abraham Tower and Some Grandchildren

I believe this photo came to my mother from her aunt, Bertha McGhee. The first person, labeled "mother" would have been Viola Matilda (Tower) McGhee, Abraham's daughter that he lived with in his old age. The family called her Tildy as there were other Violas and Matildas in the family.

Her children in the picture are Roy (born 1900), Bertha (1903) Austin (1912), Ethel (1915), and Elmer McGhee (1910). I'll look at their approximate ages and maybe I can date the photo from those.

The occasion for the photo must have been a visit from the Newton family who lived in Morgan, Texas. Alice Newton is another of Abraham's daughters (Sarah Alice Tower 1868-1945). Helen and Willie Belle are Alice's daughters, born 1897 and 1905) so that should help with the date of the photo.

The youngest child in the photo was born in 1915 and appears to be at least 4 or 5 years old. That would put the photo date around 1918 or 1920. Elmer (front row, right) died in 1921 so the photo was definitely before the 5th of April 1921.

Abraham and Three of His Grown Children - I need to figure out the year of the auto here

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Virginia Allain

Do You Have Old Family Photos That Need Dating?

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      6 years ago from Fresno CA

      Great photo legacy. You are rich indeed!

    • Pawpawwrites profile image


      6 years ago from Kansas

      What a wonderful group of photos. What treasures to have in the family. So many photos get lost, or become unidentifiable.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've always found it funny how really old photos show people in formal and rigid poses. I suppose taking photos back then was not an everyday experience - unlike today when everyone has a camera and photos are routinely posted online for the world to see.

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      @heytoto: It really helped me to figure out some of the dates for a timeline too.

    • heytoto profile image

      Karen Kolavalli 

      7 years ago from Lexington, Kentucky

      This is a great way to display these photos. You may want to try it with other ancestors, too.


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