Victorian-Era Image Completes Set of Photos for James W. Colvin Heirs

John Robert Colvin, Sr. with wife and child

John Robert Colvin, Sr., with wife, Fannie Knox and daughter, Columbia F. Colvin. Ca. mid 1880s. Source: Rene Alston, living descendant.

Thanks to a modem-day descendant, The Colvin Study was recently gifted with an image of the first-born son of James W. Colvin and Alethea Preston who married ca. 1850-1860. This acquisition completes the set of images for all  seven of James’s children born between 1853-1871. James, you may recall from previous posts,  was the rogue Colvin male who married outside his race, but whose daring has produced an entire line of Colvins and their descendants many of whom live today directly on or near James’ original homestead in Fauquier County, Virginia.

John Robert Colvin, Sr.  was born in late fall of 1853 (probably at the Fauquier homestead,) and can be found in both the 1860 census in the home of Allen Preston, (where his father also resided,)  then in the 1870 census in his father’s home with his surname changed from Allen to Colvin as is Alethea’s, who is identified as “Lizzie A. Colvin”

Between 1874-1879  John married his first wife, Fannie Knox (1855 – 1890/92) with whom he had 4 children between 1879-1886 consisting of three sons and a daughter. The image is believed to be of John with Fannie and their daughter, Columbia F. Colvin (1882-?) I estimate the image to have been taken mid-1880s based on the gender and age of the child as well as Fannie’s hairstyle and outfit. Her skirt is typical of those requiring a bustle which did not come into fashion until the 1880s. Fannie’s death is estimated between 1882-1892.

John married 2nd to Elizabeth “Lizzie” C. Pilsch, about whom I’ve also blogged. From this union were born six children: three sons and three daughters. John Robert is believed to have died in 1929 in Washington, D.C. where, nine years earlier, he was working as a government security guard, according to census records. Earlier census records indicate John R. Colvin was a carpenter by training. Elizabeth, who outlived John by nearly a decade,  is believed to have died in 1936. She is last seen in the census living in Washington, D.C. with her 2nd eldest daughter, Mary Dorthy Colvin (1908-?). The burial places of  John R. Colvin, Sr., nor those of  his two wives are currently known.


About Alex Colvin

Senior, History, minoring in Anthropology, University of Houston. Charter President, Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, (Webb UH Main 2014-2015) University of Houston. Additional credentials can be found in the CV / Services tab.
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