NELSON_0001I surrender. Who the heck is “Nelson”? The young woman in this photograph seems to be obsessed with “Nelson”. She is wearing Nelson’s name on her skirt and it appears on her fan.  Is she a Willie Nelson groupie? A second mystery in this image is the abundance of feathers. There are feathers on the floor, pinned to her blouse and decorating her hat. Take note of the daisy chain that the woman is wearing at and below her collar. This mysterious photograph is by T. H. Eulass whose studio was located in Mason City, Illinois. Mr. Eulass knows who “Nelson” is, but he’s not talking. Perhaps “Nelson” was a political candidate or the name of a local company. Thomas H. Eulass (1841-1903) was an Ohio native. Eulass participated in the America’s civil war as a member of the 146th Ohio Infantry. He entered the unit as a private and mustered out as a corporal. He appears in both the 1880 and 1900 US census as a photographer. He was married to Kate Eulass. He is buried in the Mason City Cemetery. This cabinet card portrait is in good condition (see scans).  The thin scrape on the bottom left corner of the reverse of the card does not cause any fragility or softness to the cabinet card. ADDENDUM: A helpful visitor to the Cabinet Card Gallery, has identified this photograph as being an advertisement for the “Nelson Seed Company”. Other theories can be seen in the comment section.  SOLD

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful site and cards!
    Maybe the name of a village? Can it be some kind of a harvest festival?

    • Great idea. It never dawned on me that “Nelson” may be the name of a town rather then the name of a person. The cabinet card gallery is fortunate to have such a great group of visitors who are willing to share their wealth of information and creative ideas and hypotheses. A little research quickly revealed that there is a town in Illinois named “Nelson”. However, it is located 126 miles from Mason City (the location that this photograph was taken); making it less probable that the “Nelson” in this image is Nelson, Illinois.

  2. What a unique portrayal you found! I notice she is proudly sporting a few dried corn cobs, on her bodice and at the base of her dress and hat, but also that the feathery items look to me like wheat or some other grain, so perhaps the earlier comment about a harvest festival, or farm show theme would be apt indeed.

  3. I agree, that these are rather corn cobs and other grain in the picture. There is the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois in the twin town of Urbana-Champaign, which is not so far away from Mason City. I read a little about the history of the U of I (opened in1868) and the College and visited the archive. They had mixed classes in former days. And there were May Day Festivals, where some would dress up as Corn Maidens (pictures of 1915 in the archive). Besides other Campus activities. So I think it could be possible, that the picture shows a student of the University, her hometown being Nelson.

    Here are some links:


  4. “Nelson” was a seed company at one time–among their offerings to farmers was seed corn (I only know this because my grandmother once had an empty Nelson seed corn bag that she cut up and made into kitchen towels). Have no idea whether they are still in business.

  5. Thanks to the above comment of Ross and after browsing the extensive website ‘LUMINOUS LINK’ of Alan Griffiths I believe this is an advertising cabinet card for the Nelson company.

    Alan has a chapter on the BANNER LADIES and CABINET CARDS: ADVERTISING and displays collections of cabinet cards. And there is lots more to discover! I sure do like his website!


    • Sorry, it’s LUMINOUS LINT ! The link is correct though 🙂

  6. Yes this is a banner girl,for a business with the name “Nelson”. They walked in parades and presumably attended other local events, Good detective work! I’m still looking for any diaries or nineteenth century publications that describe them. Thanks for posting this and thanks for letting me know Susanna.

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