Ask Rufus: The Face in a Photograph


A circa 1860 tintype from Columbus. The lady is identified as

A circa 1860 tintype from Columbus. The lady is identified as "Aunt Kinzie - Dr Hardy's old time slave cook from Virginia." Photo by: Courtesy photo


Dr. Cornelius Hardy lived at Magnolia Hill overlooking Military Road in

Dr. Cornelius Hardy lived at Magnolia Hill overlooking Military Road in "the Highlands" of Columbus from 1858 until his death in 1908. It was here that Aunt Kinzie, a slave, was his cook. The house had been constructed around 1832 and purchased by Hardy's father-in-law, William B. Winston in 1843.
Photo by: Courtesy photo



Rufus Ward



It is a rare and very poignant image. A lady photographed as a slave in Columbus circa 1860. Her name was Aunt Kinzie, and she had been brought to Columbus from Virginia by Dr. Cornelius Hardy as his cook in the mid 1850s. 


I have been asked what I knew about Aunt Kinzie who was identified on the image as "Dr Hardy's old time slave cook from Virginia." I did not know much, but Carolyn Kaye and I have had fun digging into the few available facts.  


My grandmother was Lenora Hardy Billups (1890-1981) and I found the photo in a Hardy family album she gave me that had belonged to her mother, Sarah Bailey Hardy. Most of the photos were 1870-90s cabinet cards, but there were a number of CDVs (including one of an unidentified Confederate soldier) and a few tintypes. I found no other reference to Aunt Kinzie, though. 


What I knew was the connection between Dr. Hardy, Magnolia Hill and Sarah Bailey Hardy (Mrs. T.W. Hardy). Dr. Hardy was either T.W. Hardy's uncle or cousin. Family accounts have differed and are found saying both. That may be accounted for by the tradition of calling older close cousins uncles. Magnolia Hill was probably built by Thomas McGee in or shortly after 1832. In 1843, it and about 22 acres of land were sold to William Winston for $3,500. 


In 1850 Dr. Hardy was living and practicing medicine in Lunenburg, Virginia. Then in the mid 1850s he moved to Columbus and brought his slave cook, Aunt Kinzie, with him. In 1858, he married Mariah C. Winston whose parents William and Rebecca Winston had made their home at Magnolia Hill. By 1860, and probably in 1858, Dr. Hardy and Mariah were living there with her mother Rebecca. Mariah's father had died earlier.  


After the Civil War, Dr. Hardy invited T.W. Hardy to leave the devastated landscape of Virginia, where he lived and join him in Columbus. Later T.W. Hardy's three brothers also left Virginia to join Dr. Hardy and their brother farming the fertile prairies across from Columbus. 


As is often the case, one search leads to something else often quite interesting. In 1907 Dr. Hardy's eyesight and health were failing, Mariah had died in 1878 and Sally his second wife was hospitalized with dementia. He was living alone (all his children had died at early ages) except for one unnamed servant at Magnolia Hill overlooking Military Road in "the Highlands" of north Columbus. One Sunday night in October 1907, he awoke with a headache and went to get some medicine. He had earlier mistakenly placed a similar looking bottle of strychnine next to his headache medicine. In the nighttime darkness he took a dose of the strychnine by mistake. His servant realized what had happened and quickly summoned Dr. W.R. McKinley and T.W. Hardy who arrived in time to save Dr. Hardy's life. He recovered but died in December 1908 at the age of 82. 


We are still looking for information about Aunt Kinzie.


Rufus Ward is a Columbus native a local historian. E-mail your questions about local history to Rufus at


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