Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield

 

Portrait of Ann Laura Reed and Children

c. 1838
Collection of the Springfield Art Association

Ann Laura Reed was a cousin of Benjamin S. Edwards; her mother Lucretia and Benjamin’s father Ninian were siblings. Ann Laura Green was born in Missouri in 1816 and married Isaac Shelby Reed in 1832. She is pictured with her two oldest children, Thomas and Duff, born in 1834 and 1836, respectively. Based on the ages of her children, this portrait was likely painted around 1837 or 1838. Ann Laura and Benjamin remained on good terms throughout their lives, despite the fact that she and her husband supported the Confederacy during the Civil War while Benjamin remained loyal to the Union.

Benjamin Edwards seems to have acquired the portrait of his cousin and her daughters sometime during the 19th century. By the 1910s it had become the property of Benjamin’s daughter Alice Edwards Ferguson, who in turn willed it to the children of her sister Mary Edwards Raymond. The Springfield Art Association acquired the portrait in 1952 as a bequest from Benjamin’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Raymond Woodward, who requested that it hang in the drawing room of Edwards Place, where it had hung for more than 50 years.