This portrait was in pretty bad condition…torn, stained and missing some parts. The family ‘found’ this picture of their great-great grandfather stuffed in the back of a closet when they were cleaning out an aunt’s house. It was not framed and the many years of abuse had taken its toll on the old man.
When I first saw the picture, I thought the man was smoking a cigarette, but then I realized very quickly that part of the paper was torn and missing. I photographed the 16×20 portrait and began the digital process of repairing missing parts, holes, scratches, and stains.
I also realized very quickly that this gentleman was wearing the Southern Cross of Honor on his lapel. The Cross of Honor was a postbellum honor presented by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to the United Confederate Veterans.
Wouldn’t you like to know how he earned it? I know I would. Old photos like this so very often raise more questions than they answer!
What we do know, however, is that the Southern Cross of Honor could only be bestowed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It could not be purchased; it was given in recognition of loyal, honorable service to the South and only a Confederate veteran could wear it.
Original crosses are serial numbered and an incomplete list of the 78,761 recipients, by serial number, is maintained by the UDC to this day.
*PRO TIPS: Store your precious pictures in a controlled environment. Store items at a low temperature and low relative humidity. The lower the temperature the longer your items will last because cooler temperatures slow the rate of chemical decay and reduce insect activity. Keep the temperature below 75 degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity below 65%.
If packaging, use acid-free material and store in a cool, dark area.