An handsome younger man named John Welch. I’m taking a guess that he’s around 20-25 years of age or so in this photo. The photographer is going to give us some more clues to dating the photo.
Schofield Bros, at 30 Main Street, Westerly RI were known to be in business in 1879. The studio appears to have evolved out of the Edwin Schofield and Schofield & Holmes studios, which were in business in the same area beginning in 1866 and disappearing around 1872 – probably merged into the Schofield Bros. There was also a John Schofield photographer in Philadelphia, PA, which as the crow files isn’t all that far from Rhode Island.
So if John Welch was around 20-25 years old in 1879, that would put his birth year around 1855. Well, as it turns out, there are a LOT of John Welches in Rhode Island during the second half of the 19th century. Some were born in Ireland, some born in the US. Almost all of them did not use a middle initial. I did find a John Welch and a John Welch Jr living in Westerly, which is possibly our subject. There were three John Welches born between 1850-1855, two of them in Providence. There were John Welches working in the local mills, one a cotton spinner, another a wool mixer.
Unfortunately, without a middle initial or any other clues to the family, I am unable to further identify *which* John Welch this is.