An inscription on the reverse of this cabinet card portrait reveals that the subject’s name in Edwin Phelps. The photograph was taken at the Brainerd Photo Company in Rome (Oneida County), New York. Preliminary research tells us a little bit about Mr. Phelps. He was born in Oneida County in 1829. He was married to Amanda Howard (1832-1904). The 1880 census indicates that the couple had three sons living at home with them. He worked as a carpenter during at least four decades.  He died in 1902 in Baltimore, Maryland and is buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Camden (Oneida County), New York. The images seen below include a portrait of Phelps taken at a later date than the portrait seen above, and a photograph of Phelps’s gravestone. The photographer that produced this image is Jonathan Millard Brainerd (1851-1926). Brainerd was born in Oneida, New York. After finishing school, Brainerd began working for photographer H. Hovey and after two years the two men became partners in a firm named appropriately Hovey & Brainerd. The business partnership lasted ten years until Brainerd bought out Hovey. Brainerd was married to Sarah C. Knight in 1874. Brainerd’s studios included locations in Rome (112 West Dominick Street) and in Oneida (28 Main Street). He had an interest in public service which is reflected in the three years that he spent as an alderman and his position as treasurer of State Custodial Asylum. He died in Utica, New York and is buried in Rome Cemetery in Rome, New York. His obituary appeared in the Rome Sentinel (1926) and the article included an interview with his colleague, photographer Betty Filchard. She noted that Brainerd was a friend of the famed photography entrepreneur George Eastman, one of the founders of Eastman Kodak. She stated that Brainerd was a genius and had invented a new camera shutter that Eastman had patented under his own name and “broke Jonathan’s heart”.  SOLD


                                                                                                                               LATER PORTRAIT OF EDWIN PHELPS



                                                                                                                                     GRAVESTONE OF EDWIN PHELPS



                                                                                                                           PORTRAIT OF JONATHAN MILLARD BRAINERD





BRIDGEPORT DOG_0007Photographers Seeley & Warnock took this photograph of a cute dog posing in their studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut. What a pose?  The photographers have captured this adorable canine exhibiting a smile (with his/her mouth open). The lighting utilized in this photograph could have been better, but lets remember that dogs are tough customers for a photographer. On the reverse of the cabinet card is advertising that states “Instantaneous Portraits of Children A Successful Specialty”.  Note that photographing children is not only a “specialty” but it is a “successful specialty”. Additional printing on the reverse of the cabinet card indicates that it was produced in 1892. Preliminary research found no information about Mr. Warnock but there is an abundance of information about Mr. Seeley. Henry James Seeley was well known in Grand Army of the Republic circles. He was a department commander (Connecticut) and served in national offices of the organization. He was born in Jericho, Vermont in 1849. At the age of fifteen he enlisted in the 10th Indiana Battery, Light Artillery. After serving with the unit he was transferred to the gunboat Stone River which was operating on the Tennessee River. His next post was Fort Johnson in Huntsville, Indiana. Seeley entered and left the military as a private. After mustering out of the military in 1865, he taught school in Carbondale, Illinois. He then went to Vermont to further his education and then had teaching stints in Rome (NY), Worcester, Fall River and Bridgewater (MA). In 1872 he moved to Bridgeport where he studied photography and finally settled down. He opened a photography studio there in 1872 at 922 Main Street. He spent the next forty-five years or more working as a photographer.


This cabinet card features a boy and a whip. The expression on this boy’s face is a bit worrisome and scary. He seems to be having some fantasies about ways he wants to use the whip. He looks intensely angry, sadistic and vengeful. The boy’s neighbors in Rome, New York likely hid their children, and their dogs and cats when he was around. The school system in Rome probably developed America’s first school based anti-bullying program when this troubled youngster entered elementary school. Perhaps I’m being a bit too judgmental. This little boy in a sailor suit may just be having a bad day. Unfortunately, the subject of this photographic portrait is unidentified so we can’t find out about his journey through life. Did he become a saintly good citizen, or did he become an incarcerated sadistic sociopath? The answer eludes us but it is important to remember that things are seldom so black and white. Keep in mind, there are fifty shades of grey. Hopefully this child’s mood improved over the years. There are some details available about the photographer.  One source states that Bacon operated his studio in the 1870’s from above 60 Dominick Street in Rome, New York. His studio was called Bacon’s Photo Rooms. In addition, G. E. Bacon is listed as a photographer in the Rome business directory (1908). His address in the directory was 138 West Dominick.

Published in: on July 15, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (3)  
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