Who knew that you can tell time using a top-hatted man sitting on a dead horse? Colleen Fitzpatrick, Andrew Yeiser, and Sharon Sergeant figured out that the now-famous photo was taken on Sept. 21, 1871, at 4:30 p.m. (give or take a few seconds), having noticed that the shadows in the photograph run east-west—a phenomenon that they say occurs only on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
Considering a top hat and tails are not the proper attire for Sheboygan in March when the average temperature is about 32 degrees, the date the picture must have been Sept. 22-23.The first of two articles on their findings appeared in The Sheboygan Press yesterday, with the second installment coming next week. The team claims to have found a "full-sized steam-belching locomotive" in the picture, but I could find it only if it wore a red-striped shirt.
What about the time of day? Mr. Dapper is not only holding down the dead horse, he is also acting as a sundial. By measuring the length of his shadow on the street, Colleen and Andy were able to calculate the angle of the sun in the sky. This told them that the photo was taken at 4:30 p.m. (Time zones were not used until 1918, so there is no need to correct for standard time.) [Link]
You can see more clues and join the hunt at Ancestral Manor, or try your hand at the latest photo quiz at Forensic Genealogy.
Previously at The Genealogue:
- You Can't Beat a Dead Horse
- A Very, Very Calm Horse
- Let's Beat That Dead Horse One More Time
- Genealogists Study Groh's Anatomy
- Still Beating That Dead Horse