TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A new display featuring photos of former mayors from Ohio's fourth-largest city turned up a discovery: A photo thought to be of Toledo's first mayor is actually a photo of his son.
The mistake was discovered a few years ago by family members of the first mayor and local historians but wasn't widely known until now, The Blade (http://bit.ly/2idhCWl) reported.
They found that a photo believed to be John Berdan who was elected the first mayor of Toledo in 1837 is actually of his son who also was named John Berdan.
"I don't know who made the original mistake," said Donna Christian, a librarian in the local history and genealogy department at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. "If you didn't know the mayor died so early, it's always possible that he did have a photo taken when he was older, but he died much too young."
She started researching the photograph a few years ago after a library patron asked about it.
The image of a John Berdan wearing a white button-down shirt, bow tie and overcoat had been used in newspaper articles and other publications.
"I've never been able to locate any kind of likeness that was the mayor," Christian said. "The chances that John Berdan had a photograph taken, I would say, is about nil, when you look at the history of photography."
That's because John Berdan, the mayor, died in 1841 just after the first photographic process was introduced and before it became popular.
The error became known about a week ago after a display of photos featuring former mayors was dedicated in the city's government building.
The photo of the wrong John Berdan was first part of the display but replaced with an avatar a few days later.
Mike Berdan, a great-great-great grandson of the first mayor, said he was always told that the same portrait hanging in the family home was the first mayor until he started his own research a couple of years ago
He said he has never seen an image or painting of the elder John Berdan.
During his research, he also found out that several references online that indicate where Mayor John Berdan was buried were wrong too.
Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/