"Which photographer is that, Bob?" My Great-uncle Jim and Bob's grandfather were first cousins so perhaps he was going to say, "Jim Sullivan, the newspaper photographer." Instead he said, "Timothy O'Sullivan, that Civil War photographer." Now I had the same story, unprompted, from three different branches of the family. I told Bob about "the book" written about O'Sullivan and mentioned a newer one the Smithsonian had put out a few years ago. Through the magic of Amazon, I sent him a copy. ( He already had "the book" by James Horan.)
In a subsequent email thanking me for the book, Bob floored me with the following, "I have a similar photo of O'Sullivan on brittle, albumen paper." That photo, like the one of Timothy's sister, Ellen, was in our family for over one hundred and fifty years. My theory was that Timothy sent it to his parents who were our ancestors' aunt and uncle. As they (sadly) outlived their children, our ancestors inherited the photos or more likely, were charged with the lovely task of cleaning out their house and kept the photos.
Bob emailed me the photo he had and I recognized it from yet another book, by Joel Snyder titled American Frontiers The Photography of Timothy O'Sullivan, 1867-1874. Again, through the magic of Amazon, I sent him a copy of that book which explained more about the photograph on page 14. Photographed by fellow photographer, Alexander Gardner, it was taken in 1868.