photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: Joseph Skeen Portrait

SKEEN, Joseph, portrait
Joseph Skeen


Joseph Skeen is my 2nd great-grandfather.  This lovely portrait really shows off his eyes.  They appear to be light in color.  I wondered if they were a bright blue so I opened up his WWI Draft Registration to see what color he said his eyes were and found a surprise.


SKEEN, Joseph, WWI Draft Registration crop
Courtesy of, view full record here.


While he did state his eyes were “light blue,” he also stated that he was blind in one eye.  I know I have read this record before, but I had forgotten this tidbit.  I have so many questions now!  Which eye?  Was he blind in that eye from birth?  If not, what happened and when?  How did that impact his daily life?  When did this information disappear from our collective family knowledge of Joseph?  Interestingly, one of my first cousins, another of Joseph’s 2nd great-granddaughters, is also blind in one eye.

This portrait was found in my Grandma’s collection in a folder she labeled with “SKEEN.”  It is a photo of a photo and originally appeared like this:


SKEEN, Joseph, portrait, unedited scan


I cleaned it up a bit and edited out the photo frame.  The back of the photo has a funny label.  I recognize the handwriting as it appears on the backs of other Skeen photos from this same folder, but don’t know who the handwriting belongs to:


SKEEN, Joseph, portrait, back


Apparently, the person who labeled the photo was very unsure of when it was taken.  Joseph aged rather well, so I am not going to guess at his age.  I will, however, point out that he is graying around the temples so he is probably closer to fifty than he is to thirty.  How is that for only slightly less vague?  😉



Update:  I couldn’t find any information about Joseph being blind in one eye beyond the WWI Draft Registration.  His grandson Wayne, my grandpa’s only living sibling, called me recently and I (thankfully) thought to ask if he knew about Joseph being blind in one eye.  He did.  He shared that Joseph lost his sight in one eye when someone threw a snowball at him that had a rock in the center.  He couldn’t recall any other details including how old Joseph was when this happened.  Joseph must have been very forgiving as he didn’t write about this incident and its effects on his life in his rather long personal history.



Happy Thursday, do you have any favorite portraits that need to be labeled?  Don’t delay!  xoxo