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.