Who Was The Earliest Born Person To Be Photographed?

Sep 26, 2023 0 comments

If you've had the chance to explore your old family photo albums, you may have stumbled upon pictures of your ancestors who were born during the early 1900s. With a bit of luck, you might have even unearthed some photographs from the early 19th century. Indeed, some of the earliest photographs most people have in their possession are of ancestors born in the 1800s, which leads us to the question: who was the earliest born person to be photographed? There are many contenders.

Conrad Heyer

Conrad Heyer is often credited as being the earliest-born person to have been photographed alive. However, his year of birth is contentious. Heyer was born in the village of Waldoboro, then part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. His birth year is generally given as 1749, but documents prior to 1850 state indicate that he was born around 1753. One of these documents is Heyer’s Revolutionary War pension application dated 1820 where he states his age as 67 years, implying he was born in 1753. Heyer’s parents themselves emigrated to the US in 1752.

Mary Munroe Sanderson

Mary Munroe Sanderson was born in 1748, in Lexington, Massachusetts Bay Colony. She died in 1852, at the age of 104 years.

Aunty Moser

This photograph of Aunty Moser was made in 1852 when she was reportedly 103 years old, making her one of the earliest-born people to be photographed. If her reported age is correct, she was born in 1749, a contemporary of Mary Munroe Sanderson.

Ezra Green

Ezra Green, Jr. was born in 1746 in Malden, Massachusetts. He graduated at Harvard College and became a surgeon in the army of the Revolution. He died in 1847, at the age of 101.

John Adams

John was born in Worcester, then part of Province of Massachusetts Bay, in 1744. He fought in the Continental Army during the American revolution, and later became a shoemaker. According to local accounts, Adams' hearing was perfect until two years before his death and he could read without glasses. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, Adams posed for a daguerreotype portrait. He died in 1849, aged 104.

Baltus Stone

Baltus Stone, a veteran of George Washington’s army who fought in the American Revolutionary War, was born in 1747. He posed for this photo in 1846, when he was 103 years old. He died shortly afterwards.

John Owen

John Owen was born in 1735, in Salisbury, making him one of the strongest contender to the title of the earliest born person to be photographed. A veteran of the Revolutionary War, Owen lived up to the ripe old age of 107.


Caesar was an African slave who was born in 1737, although there is no contemporary record of his birth year. The only evidence from Caesar’s lifetime about his age is the 1850 census, which lists him as 110 year old.

Caesar's purported birthplace was the Bethlehem House property in Bethlehem, New York, owned by Rensselaer Nicoll. Over the course of his lifetime, Caesar managed to outlive a remarkable three to four generations of masters who resided on the Nicoll estate in Bethlehem. He was granted retirement in the year 1817, at the venerable age of 80, and spent his remaining years living with the Nicoll family until his eventual passing.

In 1851, his final master's son persuaded Caesar to sit for a daguerreotype portrait, one of the earliest photographic images of an African American. He died in 1852. At the time of his death, he was recorded to be 115 years old, making him one of the longest-lived Americans on record.


More on Amusing Planet


{{posts[0].date}} {{posts[0].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}


{{posts[1].date}} {{posts[1].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}


{{posts[2].date}} {{posts[2].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}


{{posts[3].date}} {{posts[3].commentsNum}} {{messages_comments}}