Assistant Archivist’s Desk #3: The Case of the Confusing Portrait

This week, I bring a new interesting story. For many years, the identity of the man depicted in the 1876 oil portrait which hangs in the dining room at the Miller House has been somewhat unknown. According to some Madeira Historical Society documents, the man was Captain Jim DeMar, a veteran of the Civil War whose saber and patches hang in the hall. Other materials suggested that it was Samuel Druce, Madeira’s first mayor. I myself was of the later opinion. His beard is similar, and most pictures of Druce were quite similar. Finally, however, the mystery was cleared up. In reviewing old newsletters, we were able to determine that the portrait was originally donated by a distant DeMar cousin living on the west coast. That settles it: the portrait is officially Captain James “Jim” DeMar, veteran of the 83rd Ohio Voluntary Infantry Regiment. He was sent to Covington to defend Cincinnati from a potential attack, and eventually was ordered forward, serving in several battles throughout the south.

“Captain Jim” will be receiving a new placard for his portrait soon, so please, come visit him!

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