This cabinet card portrait features a well dressed man with a masterful wiry mustache and chin beard. He is wearing a watch on a chain as well as a very serious expression. This photograph was taken at the Raitt & Parsons studio, which was located in Durand, Wisconsin. The town of Durand is in western Wisconsin and was first settled in 1856 by 21 year-old Miles Durand Prindle.. The town was incorporated in 1887. Photographer, Thomas G Raitt (1847-1904) operated a studio with Mr Parsons between 1891 and 1892. He was a sole proprietor photographer between 1893 and 1904. After Thomas died, another Raitt continued to work as a photographer in Durand. The most likely suspect is Mazie Penelope Raitt (1880-1945) who was a daughter of Thomas and his assistant photographer. In 1905, she ran her own studio, which was likely her late father’s business. One can assume she succeeded her father after Thomas’s death. It appears that Mazie later joined forces with photographer Oscar Fryklund. The pair are listed as partners in the Historical Index of Wisconsin Photographers. An inscription on the reverse of this photograph indicates that the subject is “Uncle Let Briggs”. A preliminary investigation did not obtain confirmable biographical information about “Let Briggs”. There was a “Let Briggs” born in Michigan in 1875, but if the subject was this man, it would mean that he would have been in his mid twenties when he posed for this image. The man in this photograph is clearly significantly older than the mid twenties. 

Published in: on April 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. What about Lester Leonard Briggs, b. 12 Nov 1847 Allegheny, NY, d. 13 Apr 1914 in Durand WI (info from an Ancestry tree)? I figured Let was a nickname, so I searched for “Let” of about the right age who had lived in Durand, and saw a listing for Harriet with a husband Lester who lived in Durand. Since it is “Uncle” Let, he probably had the picture taken where he lived and then sent it to his niece or nephew wherever they lived—maybe the younger Let in Michigan?

  2. Great detective work. When I was doing my research about this photograph, I found Lester Briggs who, as you pointed out, lived in Durand. I was reluctant to positively identify the subject as being Lester because I lacked enough confirming information. However, I think that you are most likely correct, and the gentleman in this image is Lester Leonard Briggs. Thanks for your comment and investigating work.

  3. Oscar Fryklund was my Great Grandfather. My mothers Grandfather. You wouldn’t believe how much history he’s given us. He had studio’s all over the Midwest. I believe Durand was where he first learned photography. He had studios in Stockholm WI, Macgregor IA, White River SD to name a few. The records just keep adding up. I’ll eventually begin loading up everything handed down for public view.

    • Thanks for sharing the history about your great grandfather. Perhaps he apprenticed in Durand. It is evident that many photographers, like Oscar Fryklund, moved around alot during their careers. Perhaps better business opportunities motivated their moves. One would imagine that the amount of competition a town presented, and the general health of the town’s economy, were major factors in helping photographers decide to seek a new town or city to operate their photo studio. Thanks for sharing your information and I am glad you found mention of your ancestor in the Cabinet Card Gallery.

      • He grew up in Pepin County where Durand is located. We still have the family farm where his father made their homestead. I believe his internship was in Minneapolis, but possibly got a little “know how” first in Durand. One of the first to work with Kodak film. He documented Government Officials and Natives of the Midwest. Had an excellent relationship with anyone he met. A people person. And he had an itchy foot…. loved to travel!

      • Thanks for the additional information. It is fantastic that you have this interesting biographical data and it is also fantastic that your family still owns the early family homestead (farm).

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