Photo Provenance Project

Photo Provenance Project: James Young & Dog, Gerky Star

Photo Provenance Project-01


Learn more about the impetus of this project here.


The subject of today’s post is a photo of my 3rd great-grandfather, James Young.  James was born in about 1850 in Renfrew, Renfrew, Scotland.  On 9 May 1873, he married my 3rd great-grandmother, Ann Vickers, in Partick, Lanark, Scotland.

My cousin, Gregg Young, originally shared this photo with me more than 12 years ago.  I have not previously shared this photo on my blog.  As you will learn from Gregg’s provenance description, Grandpa Young’s dog was his pride and joy as is also evidenced by the composition of this photo with the dog sitting in the chair.


James Young
James Young (1850-1916)


Gregg wrote this regarding the provenance of this family photo:

Subjects in photo:  James Young (born 1850) and his dog, Gerky Star.  (Dog’s name may be misspelled).  

My relationship: James Young is my great grandfather. 

Photo Information: My Grandmother, Catherine Young (nee Brown) had this photograph.  It came into my father’s possession after her death. After his passing, the photo came to my possession.   

Both my Dad, Andrew Young, and my Aunt, Mary Costello (nee Young), identified this photo. I found it amusing that they both knew the name of the dog although shown old pictures of other family members they could not identify. I am not sure of the spelling of the dog’s name but it was James’ pride, Gerky Star. From what my Dad and Aunt said, he was a champion.

Also note: He is wearing a chain across his vest. I believe that this is probably attached to a watch in the watch pocket of the vest. My Dad gave me a watch from Scotland that was his father’s. I am not sure, but I believe that this watch may have been James’ above.

I keep it in the safety deposit box because of its value to me. It is well over a hundred years old. It has a glass crystal and a key. It is silver and has a brass inlay on it. There is a way to look at the insides without difficulty. The inside of the case is beautiful with etchings where no one but a watchmaker can see. It was broken when my Dad gave it to me. I thought that I had better get it fixed while there was still someone alive that could fix it. The jeweler sent it back East to have it repaired. I have wound it a couple of times and listened to it tick but have just kept it in storage since.  However, it again does not run. 

I do not know when the photo was taken but believe that it may be around the turn of the 20th century.

I do not know who took the photo but believe it to be a studio photo as it appears to be taken indoors. This photo is about 4 inches by 6 inches and is NOT a postcard that were so popular at this time.

Confirmation: My father never met his grandparents as they lived in Scotland and he was born in Butte Montana, however, they were known to him from a variety of photos that his parents had.  Mary Costello (nee Young) also identified photos with the same subjects as her grandparents and she had met them in Scotland. 


Shared with me by Gregg Young in an email dated 4 August 2019.


For those who may wish to contact Gregg, please comment on this post or send me an email (address on the sidebar) and I will forward your message on to him!




Happy Tuesday!!  I have drawn the winner of my RootsTechLondon pass and am awaiting a response to my email before I announce the winner’s name.  xoxo



6 thoughts on “Photo Provenance Project: James Young & Dog, Gerky Star”

    1. Hopefully it’s just that they were trying to hold still! But you are right, they don’t look cheerful at all.

  1. I have a friend living in North Ogden who is from Lanark, Scotland. She has such a lilt in her voice that is very distinctive. When I was at the Tower of London, I was able to identify a Tower Guard as being from Lanark by his accent. He was so surprised, as he thought he had gotten rid of his accent entirely which to a great extent he had just not completely. I can just hear your great grandfather with his beautiful dog. Don’t they make a great pair?? What kind of dog is it?

    1. I LOVE it!! I look foward to visiting Scotland one day. I don’t know what kind of dog. He certainly looks well cared for.

    1. Me too!! When I went to visit Gregg several years ago, he had gotten the watch out of his safety deposit box so that I could see it. It is really beautiful!

Leave a Reply