My parents have a set of portraits hanging in their living room of Ephraim H. Foster and his wife Susan A. Watkins. My third great-grandparents. Painted before the civil war, these portraits were passed down in the family to their daughter Bettie Foster. To her daughter, Susie Pointer, then to my grandmother Elizabeth Malone and finally to my father. Interest in these portraits was instrumental in me learning more about my family history. 

Portraits have always been more than a record. They have also been used to show power, wealth, social standing, or some other qualities of the sitter. It is also all we had before the invention of the camera. A medium that would eventually let everyone, no matter their class or wealth, keep a record of who they were. Portrait artists were not just in the capitals and largest cities of our nation; they were all over, even in the Antebellum South.

This episode is about the artist. A man who traveled a long way to Alabama for his profession.



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