One thing that seems to be a tradition in my family is facial hair. We come from a long line of bearded or mustached gentlemen.
Not all of them were bearded, of course. But my father is a bearded man and, as a result, I have an affinity for beards. Even my husband sports a beard. It’s comical because his mother is always asking him when he’s going to shave “that thing” off and when I catch her asking, I immediately yell…VETO!
My father attempted to go clean-shaven once and chose the week of my high school graduation to do so. He also decided to buy a new truck on the same day. I was walking home from school when he happened across me on his way home from the dealership. He followed me slowly down the street, waiting for me to notice him. He was actually trying to show off his new truck but unwittingly alarmed me. Without his beard and in the new truck, I thought I was about to get kidnapped! I was a little bit angry with him for shaving his beard – not because he scared me, but because I could not find him in the crowd during my graduation a few days later. His baby face blended in with all the other white-collar looking dads, and I just wasn’t used to what he looked like beardless.
Since photos were not widely used until the 1860s, I can’t say who did or didn’t have a beard. But of the pictures I have, my father’s great-grandfather, Daniel, was a white-bearded man. My father is still peppered, but considering how much he resembles Daniel, I suspect by the time he reaches 90, he will also have a fluffy white beard.
Images from left: (1) Ohlerick Kuck holding his great-grandchild, my grandmother. His daughter and grandson stand behind him. (2) The three Cobe brothers. My grandmother didn’t know who was who, but based on their age of appearances I would guess Emmett on the left, John or Joseph on the right, and Joseph or Frederick behind them. (3) Daniel Rhoads. (4) Richard Cobe Jr. (left – Emmett’s father) and his brother, Frederick (right), guessing again based on their age in appearance.
Xaver Aleck was a dapper-looking bearded man, all snowy white fur, sitting for a portrait with his family in Harrison County, IA. He wore his beard short and well manicured.
The Cobe brothers were clean-shaven, but their father, Richard Jr., and uncle, Frederick, wore the fashionable walrus mustache for their portrait.
Even Ohlrick Kuck displayed the walrus mustache, indicative of the saloon bartender of his day.
My uncle and cousins all have had or currently have beards. My uncle sports a circle beard. My cousin’s have full beards as thick as Paul Bunyan’s. Though they seem to bounce back and forth between clean-shaven and bearded.
My father’s beard was once as thick as my cousin’s, but he has become a hermit and has long since stopped grooming his beard. It has thinned out a little, and he has let it grow wild, resulting in a look resembling members of ZZ Top. We were at the Grand Canyon about five years ago, and I heard someone in the crowd murmur, “Is that one of the ZZ Top?!”
My husband has gone through different phases of facial hair looks. He has worn the goatee, the horseshoe, the full beard, and the manicured beard. His beard is currently manicured, and he is letting his mustache grow out a little more – I think to try the bearded handlebar combo.
And that’s our family’s story on beards.
PS. I watermark my images to encourage people to give credit to their source. A photo loses it provenance when one cannot say where the photo came from and how we know who is in them. I only use photos I can validate.