This image was photographed by J. M. Munson of Madison, South Dakota. The photograph was taken after 1889, the date of South Dakota Statehood. Photographs before 1889 would print the location as “Dakota Territory”. The couple in this image are an attractive pair. The woman subject is wearing a pretty dress, a ring, a collar pin and a bow in her hair.  The gentleman is well groomed and dressed    in a fancy suit. The photographer of this portrait is John M. Munson. He and his family appear in the U. S. Census of 1900. He was working as a photographer and living with his wife and daughter in Madison. He was 50 years old, his wife (Ada) was 41 years old, and his daughter Josephine was 6 years old. He and his wife had been married in 1882. The census indicated that Munson was born in 1849 in Ohio. A 1909 South Dakota business directory lists his Madison photography studio. The 1910 census confirms that he still worked as a proprietor of a photography business and lived with his family. The 1920 census finds Munson unemployed, or retired, and still living with his wife and daughter.   (SOLD)

Published in: on October 31, 2021 at 12:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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three couples cc three couples cc 1 three couples cc 2 three couples cc 4This cabinet card portrait is likely a family portrait, judging by a strong family resemblance among a number of the individuals in the photograph. The woman sitting on the right side of the bottom row is holding an open photograph album. She is also arm in arm with the woman sitting next to her. This image is difficult to analyze in terms of the exact family constellation represented. Are these people siblings? Like many other photographs of this era, it is impossible to confidently hypothesize about the exact relationships between the subjects. The photographer of this cabinet card is Edwin Rodney Curtiss (1836-1906) and his studio was located in Madison, Wisconsin. Curtiss was born in Southington, Connecticut and married Eva A. Lingenfetler of Fonda, New York in 1859.   (SOLD)

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Published in: on January 23, 2020 at 12:01 pm  Comments (4)  
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family 2

This cabinet card is a portrait of a large family taken at the studio of A. T. Lewis in Madison, South Dakota. This family is well dressed and likely well-to-do. South Dakota was part of the Dakota Territory until it became a state in 1889. This knowledge reveals that this photograph was taken in 1889 or later. The city of Madison was named after Madison, Wisconsin. Wikipedia reports that the city’s original name was Herman and that it was founded in 1880. Abrah T. Lewis, the photographer of this image was married to Miss Sarah J. Norcott in 1873. She was also a photographer and is actually the more likely of the two to have taken this photograph. Mrs. Lewis tended to do portraits while Mr. Lewis focused on scenic views. Abrah Lewis was born in Oneida, New York in 1853. He next lived with his family in Canada between 1855 and 1873. In 1873, Abrah and his bride moved to Michigan and eight years later he lost his house to a forest fire (1881). Mrs. Lewis’s grandmother perished in the fire and she nearly lost her mother. The couple left for a brief stay in Canada and then settled in South Dakota and worked as photographers in Sioux Falls. Three years later they moved to Madison and opened a photography studio there that was predominately operated by Mrs. Lewis while Mr. Lewis attended to branches of the studio at Brookings, Elkton, and Arlington (all in South Dakota). The pair resided in Madison (five years), Huron (two years) and Clark (two years). Like many photographer of the cabinet card era, this couple kept moving. Their next stop was various locations in Iowa where they continued to work as photographers. One of their locations was a town called Rock Rapids. To view photographs by other female photographers, click on the category “Female Photographers”.


This photograph captures a family in unknown ethnic clothing, at the Chalmers studio in Madison, Minnesota. Hopefully, a visitor to the cabinet card gallery will be able to identify the country of origin of this attractive family. The parents and their two sons, and daughter, are likely immigrants to the United States. An uninformed guess is that the family is from Afghanistan. The Chalmers studio was certainly a family affair. The business was started by Hugh J Chalmers (1844-1910) who was born in New Brunswick, Canada. He operated a photography studio in Lac Qui Parie (1882-1886) and in Madison (1886,  1894-?). Both businesses were located in Minnesota. He was succeeded by his son, James H. Chalmers (1874-?) who worked in Madison between 1904 and 1922. A third generation was involved with the business. James Kenneth Chalmers (1905-1966) also operated the studio.

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  
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