MASTER WILLIE WAINRIGHT: TWO YEAR-OLD POSES FOR PHOTOGRAPHER IN FRESNO, CALIFORNIA

This cabinet card features a portrait of “Master Willie Wainwright” at two years-old. A dedication on the reverse of the card states “to his friend Mable Ayers”. Master Willie is wearing a straw hat which is covering his long blond locks of hair. The photographer is Edgerton Reyerson Higgins  (1845-1911) of Fresno, California. Higgins was born in Canada. His mother was Canadian and his father was from Connecticut. He attended high school and Business College in San Francisco, California. He helped out at the photographic gallery of his brother, Thomas J. Higgins while attending school. Higgins worked as a photographer in a number of California towns, including Sacromento, Snelling, Stockton, Merced, Hanford, and Fresno. He worked for at least two well known photographic studios, one of which is represented in the Cabinet Card Gallery collection; Bradley and Rulofson. The second famous  photography studio was Thomas Houseworth & Company. Click on the category Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson” to view their photographs. While working in Snelling, Higgins was quoted as saying he took “pretty pictures, even of ugly people”. This cabinet card is from Fresno and it appears that he worked there at two different times. He was there temporarily in 1879. This cabinet card was published during his second stint, which began in 1887. Higgins did much to help his community. In 1889 he was one of the principal founders of the Fresno Volunteer Fire Department, and from about 1889 until the early 1890’s, he served as chief of the department. In 1898 he renamed his gallery the “Rembrandt Studio” and a year later, entered a partnership with a photographer named Howland. The California Historical Society has a small collection of Higgins’s photographs.