This photograph features a woman and her bicycle. It must have been very difficult for a woman to ride a bike in a such a long dress. Hand printed on the reverse of the photograph is the message “A Merry Xmas”. This photograph has been trimmed and as a result, the photographer is unknown.

Published in: on November 30, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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This  photograph features a woman in a bustle style dress posing for a full length portrait at the Gray studio in Omaha, Nebraska. The dress seems to play a more prominent role than the subject in this cabinet card image. In 1884 Howard E. Gray took over the Bee Hive Gallery at the address listed on this cabinet card. In about 1886 he changed the name of the studio to the H. E. Gray Studio. Omaha business directories indicate that he was operating a photography studio in Omaha  from 1884 through 1896. The 1896 directory announces that Gray had moved to Houston, Texas. Research was able to pick up Gray’s trail in Houston. Business directories state that he was a photo retoucher in in 1897 and from 1899 through 1911 operated a photography studio. Research yielded no definitive information about his family. He may be listed in the 1900 US census but there is no confirmation that Howard E. Gray listed is the same Howard E. Gray who worked as a photographer. The 1900 census Mr. Gray was 36 years-old and married to Maggie Gray (age 38). The couple was married in 1885 and had a son named Elmont (age 12). Interestingly, the census Mr Gray was listed as working as a stenographer. To view other photographs by Gray, click on the category “Photographer: Gray (NE)”.

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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This image captures the portrait of a tired looking old man. This gentleman appears to have had better days. He looks exhausted and troubled. This photograph was taken by the Mark’s studio in Austin, Texas. The photographer of this cabinet card lived an interesting life and he was both a pioneer of Texas and a pioneer of photography. Harvey Roberts Marks (1821-1902) was a well known photographer who worked in a number of locations. He was active in Baltimore, Maryland (1849-1853), San Francisco, California (1851), Mobile, Alabama  (1856-1859), Houston, Texas (1865-1870), and Austin, Texas (1870-1902). He was born in New York City. He first arrived in Texas in 1838 and received a very large land grant in Harris County (Houston). He enlisted in a company of Texas Rangers in 1840 and reached the rank of Captain. He was married to Emily H. Bassan in 1849. Research indicates that she was  member of one of the most prominent families in Baltimore. In 1849 he was Jacob Shew’s partner in the Shew and Mark’s Gallery in Baltimore. He continued the gallery alone when Shew left Baltimore until 1851. The 1850 census revealed that he had three assistants in the gallery and took 5,000 daguerreotypes annually. In 1851 he took photographs of castaways from a Japanese ship involved in an incident that caught national attention. Mark’s moved to Austin in 1870 and opened a gallery a year later. During that time he became Vice President of the National Photographic Association. Marks served during the civil war. He was a member of the Houston Battalion, Texas Infantry (Detailed Men). Research was unsuccessful in gathering this Confederate regiment’s history. Marks entered the regiment and left the regiment as a Captain.  Interestingly, when former Confederacy President, Jefferson Davis, visited Austin in 1875, he sat in Mark’s studio for his portrait. He died at the age of 81.


This cabinet card features three precious little children wearing adorable outfits. The child in the center of the image is holding a rake and wearing a large bow tie and a straw hat. The two girls are flanking the little boy in the middle and each girl is holding their hat. There is a basket of flowers on the floor in front of the trio of children. The photographer of this image is the Mathison studio in Tekamah, Nebraska. Ingbert L. Mathison (1868-1935) was born in Denmark in 1868. He came to America with his parents at the age of 2. He grew up in Iowa and came to Tekamah, Nebraska in 1891. He became a photographer and later added furniture sales to his business. The 1900 US census reveals that Mathison was married to Grace Theodoria Christy (1870-1902) and the couple had four children between the ages of 3 and 9. Two years after this census, Grace died, leaving Ingbert with four young children. Ingbert soon got remarried. His new bride was Mary Etta Slaughter (1873-1939). The Mathison family then moved to a community outside of Denver, Colorado. Ingbert worked as a farmer, and later, a grocer, in Colorado. He died in a Denver hospital in 1935 at the age of 67. The cause of death was hemorrhages of the stomach.


An inscription on the reverse of this image indicates that this handsome well dressed young man was named Theo Sparks. He looks quite spiffy with his winged collar shirt, wide tie, and handlebar mustache. The photographer was not identified nor was the location of the photographer’s studio. Despite a paucity of information, research found some biographical information about Mr. Sparks. Theo Sparks (1870-1956) was born in Indiana. The 1880 US census finds him at age 10, living in Linton, Indiana.He lived with his parents, Peter S.  and Mary E. Sparks. His father was a farmer. He  lived with four older siblings, Iris (age 18), Orian (age 17), Ishmel (age 14), and Pascal (age 12). He also lived with three younger siblings, Marco (age 8), Eura (age 6), and Cush (age 2). Also living with the family was Theo’s fraternal uncle, Wesley Sparks. Theo and his siblings had very unusual and interesting names. Peter and Mary Sparks deserve kudos for their creativity in baby naming.The 1900 census finds the 29 year-old Theo Sparks living in Denver, Colorado and newly married to Maud Sparks (age 24). He was working as a motorman. According to the 1910 census, Theo and Maud still lived in Denver and had four sons, Rolland (age 8), Warren (age 5), Glen (age 4), and Jorville (age 3 months). It seems Theo and Maud continued Theo’s parents tradition of giving some of their children unusual names. Theo supported his family with his income from working as a street car motorman. The 1920 through 1940 censuses indicate that Theo and Maud continued to live in Denver with different members of their family being part of their household in each of the censuses.

Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (6)  
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What is happening in this unusual and interesting cabinet card photograph? Your guess is as good as mine. There are thirteen teenage girls in this image who seem to be celebrating something. The girl in the center of the photograph is wearing a crown or veil and is flanked by two girls pressing their hands up against each other as if to create a steeple.. Are they holding a train of a dress? The girl in the bottom row, second to the right, is also holding something, but what is it? Too many questions, and too few answers. Note the girls hairstyles, or lack of hair styles. Long and disheveled hair seems to be the fashion in this photograph. Do you think that this photograph captures a stage production? A Pajama Party? A Wedding? What is your best guess? This photograph was produced by the Bailey studio located at 86 North Third Street, in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Most likely, the photographer of this photograph is William Bailey (born about 1854). At some point in his career he operated a studio in Columbia. His father David Bailey (born about 1830) and his brother (born about 1861) were also both photographers. The 1880 census finds all three of these men living in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania which is located about 80 miles from Columbia. To view other photographs by William Bailey, click on the category “Photographer:  Bailey”.

Published in: on November 24, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (4)  
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This cabinet card photograph features Mrs Horace Nevill, British stage star. She also performed under the name of  Annie Rose. She made her debut in the Gaiety theater in 1879. Her first major success was at the Royalty Theater in the production of  “The Merry Duchess” (1883). Some of the plays she appeared in include “The Lady of Lyons” (1888) with Mr. Forbes Robertson, “The School for Scandal (1889), and “Dick Venables” (1890). The reverse of the cabinet card indicates that the Photographer of this image, the London Stereoscopic Company served as “Photographers to the Royal Family”. This honor appears to have been given out rather freely as I have encountered many studios advertising that they were “photographers to the Queen” or “photographers to the Royal family”.  The reverse of this image did have a rather unique bit of advertising. The studio advertised that they offered free lessons and special studios and dark rooms reserved for the use of amateurs. To view other photographs by the London Stereoscopic studio, click on the category “London Stereoscopic Studio”.


This cabinet card features celebrated English actor Edward Askew Sothern (1826-1881). Sothern was known for his comic roles in Great Britain and America. He is often associated with his role in “Our American Cousin (1858 ). Sothern complained to his friend, actor Joseph Jefferson, about the smallness of his part in that play. Joseph Jefferson responded with the classic line “There are no small roles, only small actors”.  Incidentally, “Our American Cousin” was the play that President Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated. He began acting as an amateur in 1848. He made his debut in America in 1852. In 1854 he joined the company at Wallack’s Theater and in 1856 he became a member of Laura Keene’s company. He gained fame starring in “Camille (1856) at Wallack’s theater. In 1864 he created the title role in Tom Robertson’s “David Garrick” (1864) at the Haymarket Theater.This comic play was about eighteenth century actor and theater manager, David Garrick.  This cabinet card photograph captures him in this role in which he had much success. This image was produced by Napoleon Sarony, famed celebrity photographer. To view other images by Sarony, click on the category “Photographer: Sarony”.


I remember the excitement that I felt shortly after purchasing this photograph. I had flipped the photograph over to the reverse side and found an inscription which identified the three subjects in the photograph. The three names were “Harry E. Hershey, Dora  E. Hershey” and “Frances Mayer Hershey”. The photograph was dated “1907”.  Seeing the “Hershey” name, and noting that the photograph was from a studio in Lancaster, Pennsylvania made me think that the subjects of this  photograph could be quite interesting. The Hershey family is quite important in the history of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Think  Hershey Chocolate! I knew that the founder of  Hershey Chocolate was Milton Hershey but I thought perhaps that Harry E. Hershey may have been an integral part of the business, or in some of the family’s other enterprises. Research found no such connection between Harry or Milton. The 1880 census found Harry Elmer Hershey (1863-1911)  at age 16 living with four older siblings and his parents (Jacob and Annie Hershey) in East Hempfield, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The 1900 census listed the 36 year old Harry as married to 30 year old Dora Elizabeth Mayer Hershey (1870-1924). They were newlyweds having been married just three months. Harry, Dora, and both sets of their parents were all born in Pennsylvania. Harry was listed as working as a treasurer of a hardware company. A  number of business directories between 1888 and 1907 reveal that he worked in this position for many years. The 1910 United States census adds 8 year old daughter Frances Mayer Hershey (1902-1994)  to the family unit. The 1920 census indicates that 17 year old Frances and her mother lived together and both were unemployed. Harry had been dead for nine years. This Hershey family portrait features a well dressed family. Harry and Dora are both smiling, and cute little five year-old Frances’s body language seems to be saying, “Hey, don’t forget about me”. The photographer is the Miesse studio in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. D. Walter Miesse (1878-1964) had a studio at 24 West King Street in Lancaster between 1894 and 1940.


This cabinet card features a uniformed band member and his tuba. At least I think it is a tuba but I would appreciate some confirmation from a cabinet card visitor well versed in identifying musical instruments. Note the sheet music clipped to his brass instrument  The musician has a terrific handlebar mustache and his cap indicates that he is a member of the “Ashland Band”.  This image was produced by the Brown studio in Jewett City as well as Moosup, Connecticut. Jewett City is a borough in the town of Griswold and Moosup is located in the town of Plainfield. Jewett City and Moosup are 12 miles apart. To drive from Jewett City to Moosup, one starts off on Ashland Street. I wonder if the “Ashland Band” is related to “Ashland Street”? Research reveals that the photographer William H. Brown was born in Packerville, Connecticut in 1853. His father was an overseer in the local mill. Brown was educated in public schools and his first job was as a store clerk. After three years of working in the store, he bought it and ran it for four years until he sold it. He then went back to work as a store clerk but bought a camera and for fun, photographed his friends and others during off hours. In a short time, it was clear that Brown had much talent in the area of photography. In about 1888 he opened a photography business. He had studios in Dayville and Wauregan. Later he opened galleries in Jewett City, Taftville and Moosup. Brown was married in 1874 to Miss Lillian Bennett and the couple had two daughters, Lillian and Alice.