Thursday, July 15, 2010

Portrait of Denton Burnett

In 2006 I made several visits to the "suburbs" of Huntsville, Texas to visit the aunt of my grandmother Adda Wanda Anders. Fannie Alma Birdette Pegoda (Alexander), Birdette as she is known, is my great-grandaunt, sister of my great-grandmother Georgia Effie Florene Pegoda. Visiting Birdette seemed almost like traveling through time - I was talking to a sister of my great-grandmother who died 40 years ago, two years before I was even born.

During one of my visits, Birdette kindly introduced me to a woman named Margaret Burnett who also lived in the Huntsville area. Margaret is the wife of a man named John Everett Burnett who is a first cousin to Georgia and Birdette. (So this makes John my first cousin 3 times removed.)

During my first visit with Margaret, she retrieved an old suitcase from a back room in her house. Inside the suitcase, where it had been found and resided for many years, was a very large, very old, and very damaged oval picture measuring about 14 in. by 20 in. She firmly believed it to be John's grandfather Denton P. Burnett, my 3rd great-grandfather.

Full image of the portraitClose-up of Denton's face
This was an astounding find! Denton is believed to have died before 1900. To find a LARGE, very professional photo of such a distant ancestor is truly a blessing.

I did not believe the picture itself could be restored given its age and level of degradation. But, I asked Margaret if I could borrow the portrait in an attempt to have it reproduced and perhaps touched up or restored. She readily agreed and I left that day with the picture.

I took Denton's portrait to a photography shop in downtown Houston. A very nice (and talented) Asian man took a high-quality digital picture of the portrait and then began to digitally repair the photograph. I am not sure how many hours he spent working on the photograph, but the end result was marvelous.

Denton P. Burnett

I ordered two full-size reproductions of the repaired image and some smaller 8"x10" prints. One of the reproductions was given to Margaret in gratitude for her showing me the portrait and allowing me, a complete stranger, to borrow it. The other reproduction is hanging in my office.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful. One that you found the picture and two that you found a talented restoration artist. To accomplish a really good restoration, there has to be a mixture of skill, which you can learn, but there has to be a talent of a discerning eye to go with it that is not a learned thing for really good restoration.