Blood Evidence

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The Lacey family: Daniel, Libby, and, in the bloodstained photo, their twins.
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Here are the Lacey twins sharing a chair. Lucy is at the left and Libby at the right. The stains along the picture’s edges are made not by age but by blood. As R. Scott Jacob of Philadelphia explains it, “When I was a child, my grandmother told me stories of my great-great-grandmother Ida Goodman Wilson and her large family, who lived in a rural community not far from Niagara Falls, New York. One tale was about Ida’s older sister Libby, who my grandmother referred to as ‘the beautiful but tragic Goodman sister.’ She had married a neighbor, Daniel R. Lacey, around the beginning of the Civil War, and a year later Libby gave birth to twin daughters.

“Soon Daniel went off to fight in the war. One June evening, while on guard duty just outside Petersburg, Virginia, Daniel had opened his wallet to gaze upon the faces of his babies when a Confederate sniper fired a musket ball at his head, killing him instantly and splattering blood on the photograph. Libby never recovered from her grief, and within a year the twins were being cared for by relatives. Libby died on October 1, 1869, exactly eight years after her wedding day. By the time I heard this story, the bloodstained photo was nothing more than a memory.

“It’s now the computer age, and things we never thought possible happen every day. Last year, after I posted a query about the Lacey family on the Internet, I heard from a man who lives in Alabama. His wife had some family photos labeled long ago by her grandmother, who had lived in upstate New York. He scanned them and sent them off by e-mail. Each file I opened astounded me. There was Libby, pretty but so melancholy; there was Daniel, handsome as a movie star; and then on the screen appeared an image that almost reduced me to tears. Mary Monk, the Alabama man’s wife, is a distant cousin and the great-granddaughter of Libby McCoy, one of the twins. She had never known the sorrowful story behind the mysterious brown stain that shadows the edge of the photo.”