Living with Hoboes

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I admired this cased ambrotype, along with a smaller, cased tintype (shown at the end of this post), for at least a year, as they sat listed on etsy.  The seller mistakenly  identified the sitter as William Wallace.  He overlooked the next word, which I came to discover was the surname of Hungerford.

William Wallace Hungerford was aged 16 when the above image was captured on January 1, 1861, in Lansing, Michigan.  He was the son of a farmer, Lyman Hungerford, and grew to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Although I’m sure William’s life wasn’t uneventful, it doesn’t appear to have garnered much attention in the newspapers.  That is, until he ran off to live with hoboes.

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Would the real John Pease, please stand up.

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Recently, I happened upon a tintype of a gentleman posed next to a small, decorative table.  Written on the front of the paper sleeve frame is “Mr. John Pease.”  I immediately recognized the table as one in a photo already in my collection.

In an earlier post, I featured a carte de visite of Sophia Germann.  The photographer, J. F. Rank of Van Wert, Ohio, seated Sophia next to the same unique, stag head table!

table GERMANN Sophia

In the larger scan below, you can better see that the table detail matches the one in the carte de visite of Sophia.  Look at the chain that dangles from the table top, and the etched lines on the legs.

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The tintype of Mr. John Pease does not provide the photographer’s identity or location, but, could the table provide the missing link? Continue reading

David Aker’s Snap Shot

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I picked up this tintype, housed in a paper frame, in Markle, Indiana.  Writing on the back reads “Whitley Co. Ind.”

I find it difficult to date this tintype based on the young man’s fashion.  If I had to make a guess, I would say late 1860s to mid 1870s, based on the felt hat and piped edge suit lapels.  I welcome anyone with more knowledge about Victorian men’s fashion to provide input.

I found two men named David Aker living in Whitley County, Indiana.  One, born in 1812, was a farmer in Whitley County.  He would have been in his fifties when the photo was captured, making him too old to be the sitter.  Another, born in 1874, would have been too young to be the sitter.

One thing to note is that the latter David Aker was also found in records as Frank David Aker.  This raises a good question.  Could David have been the sitter’s middle name, and/or a name that he didn’t use consistently, especially on paperwork, like census records?  Frank David Aker’s father was George Aker, born about 1839.  If my dating of this tintype is correct, George would have been in his early twenties when this photo was taken, and would fit the sitter’s age.  However, I find no record of George’s middle name or of him using the name David.

This is another rescued photo that remains a mystery, for now.

Sources:
Census records
Death records

 

The Artist

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This is a tintype that has been hand-colored.  It was found in Markle, Indiana.  Written on the reverse is “Mrs. Sarah Huff, Artist, Leavensworth (sic), Ind.”

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Based on the young woman’s fashion, I loosely date this photo as being taken in the 1870s.  This is a curious case, as there were several women named Sarah Huff residing in the Leavenworth, Indiana area during this time.

The first Sarah Huff, married to Mack Huff, was born about 1859, and fits the age of the sitter.  However, she resided in Sterling, 17 miles from Leavenworth.

There were also two Sarahs, a mother and daughter, living in Leavenworth.  The daughter, 18 years old in 1870, was, of course, a Miss Sarah Huff, not a Mrs.  The mother was 40 years old in 1870, so she could not be the sitter.  Is it possible the person who penned the writing mistakenly wrote Mrs.?  Or is it possible the writing signifies the person who hand-colored the photo, and not the identity of the sitter?  That could explain the notation of “Artist.”

This one remains a mystery.

Sources:
Census records
Death records

The Stitching Girl

Annie Hicks Townsend

I picked up this beautiful tintype on etsy.  Written on the back of the pink paper sleeve that houses the image is “Annie Townsend, Mother of Nelle, Henry, Roy.”

Annie Townsend

Having no information about the photographer or location, I looked closely at the sitter’s clothing and hairstyle, and with the help of the 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide, dated the image to around 1872.  The sitter appears to be in her early twenties, so I searched for an Annie Townsend, born about 1850, with children named Nelle, Henry and Roy.  I found Annie Hicks, and she fit the bill!

Annie, born in Nova Scotia, immigrated to the US about 1870 and began working in a shoe factory in Danvers, Massachusetts.  As many young women working in the shoe factories in Essex county, Annie came to town seeking work, and was boarding in a private family’s home.   Also living in Danvers and working in the shoe factory was Francis Henry Townsend.

Prior to 1860, stitching machines in the shoe factories required great strength to operate.  Upon the introduction of steam power, these machines could easily be run by women, and since women required a lower wage, the majority of stitchers were female.

Another shoe factory town in Essex county, just 10 miles from Danvers, was Lynn.  In 1872, a serialized novel, “The Queen City! : or Life in the Shoe Factories of Lynn,” was published in the Lynn Record.   It described the young workers who flocked to the streets on Saturday nights, where, away from the prying eyes of family, they flirted, drank beer and ran wild.

A poem, “The Stitching Girls,” published in the Lynn Transcript in 1869, captured the scene through the eyes and mind of an observer.

When walking on the crowded street,
A lovely lass attracts your eye,
And while you gaze your glances meet,
You smile – alas! you soon will sigh
For Cupid from her beaming eyes,
His shining arrows thickly hurls;
And hard indeed must be the heart –
The pleasing, teasing stitching girls.

…Again you meet her and she plys
And sings and smiles for you alone,
Charmed by her gentle, loving ways,
You hope to call her all your own,
But should you kneel and tell your love,
With cruel scorn her lip will curl:

And you’ll be left alone to sigh:
I’m jilted by a stitching girl.
The stitching girls, the witching girls –
The singing, clinging stitching girls
They break your heart and then depart
The naughty, haughty stitching girls.

Unlike the poem’s author, who it seems was cast aside by a stitching girl, Francis Townsend found love with one.  He and Annie married in 1877 and went on to raise Nelle, Henry and Roy.

Sources:
Census records
Massachusetts marriage records
Massachusetts death records
19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide by Gary W. Clark
Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780 – 1910, by Mary H. Blewett, published 1990
Women in Industry Vol. 5, published 1916

 

 

 

Sultana Disaster Survivor

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I donated this tintype to the Bedford Ohio Historical Society, so that it could be united with the book, Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors by Rev. Chester D. Berry, published in 1892, which belonged to Orlo and was in their collection.

This tintype features the Mathews’ brothers: Alden H. is standing, Orlo C. is sitting on the left, and James A. on the right. The tintype is housed in a sleeve which identifies each sitter by initials on the front and by full name on the back.  I’ve included those images at the end of this post.

Orlo C. was witness to what is known as the greatest maritime disaster in American history, the explosion of the Steamboat Sultana, which happened 151 years ago today.  Read on to learn more about the Mathews’ brothers and the Sultana!

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The Piercing Stare

BLOG HART Lois or FRICKE Ann

I found this tintype photograph in an antique shop in Markle, Indiana.  The writing on the sleeve identifies two women; Lois (nee Hart) Robison and Lois’ daughter-in-law, Anna.  It seems the person who wrote the names was giving a family history of sorts.  How can we know which woman is the sitter?  Since I am by no means an expert in Victorian fashion, I consulted with Ann Longmore-Etheridge, a historian and expert in early photography.  Using the details of the clothing, jewelry, and hairstyle, she dated the photo to the mid-1870s with 1878 as the latest possible date. She felt that the sitter was about 13 years of age.  Anne wasn’t born until 1887, so she could not be the sitter.  However, Lois was born in 1865 and was 13 years old in 1878.  Bingo!  Click the link below to learn about Lois’ life! Continue reading