Alive and Well

Lora Peirce Cooper in box

Most of the time, when someone is selling or sharing photos of an antique photo brooch, it’s described as mourning jewelry.  This find is proof that not all of these pieces were mourning objects.  The sitter for the photograph encased in this Victorian pin was Lora (nee Peirce) Cooper.  Writing on the inside of the box dates the photo to 1875, when Lora was 26 years old. 1875 is also the year she was married to Morris Cooper.

Small BLog PEIRCE Lora top of box

The good news is that Lora was alive and well long after this photo was taken and after this beautiful piece of jewelry was created.  She died, aged 77, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she lived her entire life.

A couple interesting family tidbits:  Her parents were Quakers, also known as The Religious Society of Friends.  Lora’s maternal grandfather, Asa Walton, also a Quaker, was a founding member of the Clarkson Anti-Slavery Society, and he, along with his wife, Mary Taylor, were conductors of the Underground Railroad.  In 1838, the couple aided runaway slave, James Williams, who fled from Maryland.  According to a family member on ancestry who had contact with the current owner of the Walton farm, a small hidden room behind a wall in the barn was discovered during remodeling.  The room was well disguised and only accessible via a small trap door.

Sources:
Census records
Find A Grave
History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, by R.C. Smedley, 1883
The Underground Railroad: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Operations, by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Life and Adventures of James Williams, a Fugitive Slave, 1873

Love and Sympathy

Funeral Flowers

Throughout history, flowers have been used at funerals and memorial services as visual expressions of love, sympathy, and respect.  This cabinet card is so beautiful that the lack of identifying writing didn’t stop me from adding it to my collection.  I also didn’t let it stop me from attempting to figure out who these flowers mourned.

I began the hunt by researching the photographer, Crosby.  According to the Directory of Early Michigan Photographers, Crosby operated a studio in Otsego, Michigan for a short time, about 1895.  I looked for Jims and James who died around that time in the Otsego area, and came up with six possibilities:

James Henderson died July 17, 1894
James Hopkins died April 7, 1895
James Rogers died April 25, 1895
W. James Monteith died July 29, 1896
James Hunt died July 29, 1896
James Duncan died June 9, 1897

I studied the photo for more clues.  Among the flowers, other than the name, there is an arrangement that reads BROTHER.  I find this significant.  It led me to believe that Jim was a single boy or man, or at the least, that he did not have children.  Why?  If Jim had been a married man with children, I would expect to see a floral Father arrangement.  If my theory is correct, this leaves only James Rogers, as all the other men were fathers.  I am in no way asserting my deduction as fact.  But, I feel it’s a pretty good bet.

James Rogers died of consumption at the age of 23.  He was single, and according to death records, he was the manager of a newspaper.  I hoped to learn more about him from an obituary, but upon contacting the Otsego Library, I learned that they have no newspaper records available from 1895.

Sources:

Census records
Directory of Early Michigan Photographers by David V. Tinder, published 2013
Find A Grave
Michigan Death records