Thursday, December 11, 2014

Just a Note ...

to let everyone know that I have not abandoned this blog.  I need to set up a new computer / printer combo to do this blog the way I want to.   I've been procrastinating because I detest setting up new equipment.  I am hoping to get back to posting after the holidays.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Laura Ann Bailey married Wilson Marcellus Dent


J. H. Callender, 
Photographer and Dentist,
No. --
West Side Public Square
Ripon, Wis
All work warranted 
Written in pen:
Laura A. Bailey
Ripon, Wis., 
Sept 13 1865

Laura’s parents, Aaron Bailey and Maria Hubbard were married in 1836 in Putnam County, Indiana and settled first in Independent Grove, Cook County, Illinois.  In 1851, when Laura was 4 years old the family moved to Adams Co., Wisconsin and later to Green Lake Prairie in Green Lake County, Wisconsin.

Two of Laura's brothers served during the Civil War.
The children of Aaron Bailey and Maria Hubbard were …
  1. Died in infancy
  2. Died in infancy
  3. John Wesley Bailey born Feb. 15, 1840 at Independent Grove, IL; married Mary Josephine Currier Nov. 8, 1862; died April 17, 1930; 4 children 
  4. Andrew Clinton Bailey born May 2, 1842; served in Civil War; married Sept. 3, 1865 Ellen “Nellie” Brown;  On May 29, 1906, he was on his way to visit his son in Santa Cruz and died on the train as it left Oakland, CA. He was 65. 
  5. Aaron Francis Bailey born June 28, 1844 at Hanover, IL; was a resident of Green Lake, Wisconsin and enlisted while a student at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.  He was mustered into Co. E, 40th Reg. Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry as a Private on May 13, 1864.  He died of typhoid fever in the Overton Hospital, Memphis Tennessee on Aug. 8, 1864, age 20 yrs. 1 mo., and 11 days and is buried at the Hillside Cemetery, Ripon, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
  6. Laura Ann Bailey (pictured above) born Nov. 17, 1846; married Wilson Dent Nov. 12, 1865; died Feb. 14, 1931; 9 children
  7. William Harrison Bailey  born 1849; died Sitka, Alaska Pioneer’s Home in 1936 
Laura Bailey was 18 when she posed for this photograph, taken in September, 1865, shortly before her marriage to Wilson Marcellus Dent on November 12, 1865, at Ripon, Wisconsin.

Wilson, the son of Joseph H. Dent and Elizabeth Emerson, was born April 5, 1845, at Oak Grove, Dodge Co., Wisconsin.  He enlisted at age 17 and was mustered in as a private on Nov. 25, 1862 at Madison,, Wisconsin.  He served 2 yrs., 11 mos. with Company I, 31st Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, and mustered out and was honorably discharged at Louisville, KY on July 8, 1865.  Four months later, at age 20, he married Laura Bailey.

The children of Laura and Wilson Dent were …
  1. Maria Bailey Dent born April 5, 1867 at Green lake Co., Wisconsin; married (1) Wm. Lloyd /1 child married (2) Ira V. Strong / 2 children; died Oct. 18, 1924 after an appendicitis operation.   
  2. Ellen Elizabeth “Ella” Dent born Mar. 7, 1869 at Green Lake Co., Wisconsin; married Frank Bailey of Canton, Lincoln County, South Dakota on Mar. 6, 1887; died Dec. 2, 1904 at Medicine Creek, South Dakota, age 35; 5 children.  
  3. William Harrison Dent born June 17, 1871 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory; married (1)Anna Mae Young on Nov. 1, 1898, married (2) Mrs. Bina Sloatman on Aug. 16, 1923; died Mar. 31, 1939 at Brule, South Dakota; age 67
  4. Frank Wilson Dent born Jan. 22, 1874 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory; married Sadie (Engebretsen) Johnson; died June 14, 1903 at age 29; 2 children. 
  5. Jennette Emeline Dent born May 23, 1877 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory; married Constantine Morgan; died May 4, 1950 at Turner, South Dakota; age 72; 4 children
  6. Harriet “Hattie” Emily Dent born Aug. 13, 1880 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory; married Lee Henegar June 24, 1897 in Benton, Lafayette, Wisconsin; died June 2, 1951; age 70; 2 children
  7. Albert Eugene Dent born Nov. 19, 1883 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory; married Gertrude M. Richie; died 1951; age 67; Occupations: bank book keeper (1910) / express cashier (1920); 1 child
  8. Andrew Clinton Dent born Aug. 18, 1885 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory; died Aug. 19, 1885. 
  9. Minnie Belle Dent born June 19, 1888 at Canton, Lincoln Co., Dakota Territory;  Sept 24, 1912 married Ernest Boudrou; died Nov. 10, 1959; age 71; 4 children 
Laura and Wilson’s first two children were born in Wisconsin in April, 1867 and March, 1869.  In December, 1869 Laura’s mother Maria (51) died.  A few months later in June, 1870 Laura, Wilson and their daughters appear in the 1870 census in Ripon, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin living in the household of Simon Burlingame, a well to do farmer.

In February, 1871 Laura’s father, Aaron Bailey married for a 2nd time to Mrs. Sarah Ellwood and by June of 1871 Wilson and Laura had traveled west to a homestead in Lincoln County, near Canton, South Dakota where their 3rd child, William Harrison Dent was born on June 17. 1871.  

The population of Lincoln county in 1870 was 712.  The average influx of settlers during the 1870s, was about 500 per year.  The Dents would have been among the early settlers and until the railroad arrived in 1879 their only means of transportation to and from Lincoln County would have been by ox or horse drawn wagon.

Their first years in South Dakota were difficult ones.  The Dent family farmed and would have been affected in the mid 1870's when grasshoppers damaged or completely ruined crops throughout the county for five years in a row.  The devastation wrought by the grasshoppers was the cause of a reverse migration when many of the settlers were forced to give up, but the Dent family remained and 7 more children were born to Laura and Wilson in Canton, Lincoln Co. in the years from 1871 - 1888.

In 1890 Wilson Dent was appointed Boss Foreman for the United States Indian Service at Lower Brule Indian School.

A letter in the annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs offers a glimpse into what qualities were considered preferable when hiring teachers in isolated Indian camps, since it was not considered a suitable place for a single person of either sex;  not ladies who were “dependent” nor single young men who were not “adapted to be in charge of a mixed school of boys and girls when many are advanced in years.”

The preference was in hiring married couples who were able to attend to the requirements of both sexes while at the same time modeling Christian family life.

The letter writer further suggests that while anyone hired should be selected first and foremost for their educational qualifications; in addition those qualifications should be combined with a self sacrificing nature, tact in teaching, civilizing and training, and the modeling of a Christian example.  He also recommends those selected and secured should receive compensation commensurate with their worth since “it is not expected those so qualified will accept positions in isolated Indian camps, deprived of every social intercourse with civilization, at the same or less remuneration than where all the enjoyments of home comforts, society, and entertainment are obtainable.”

“ … isolated Indian camps; deprived of every social intercourse with civilization … “  It is difficult to imagine the same young woman who attended Ripon College, sang in the choir and taught a Sunday school class, raising 9 children in such a primitive environment, yet she did just that.

And while married couples may have been the School's preference, the Dent’s eldest (and unmarried) son, William was employed at the Lower Brule boarding school as an Industrial Teacher for 2 years in 1891 and 1892; from there William went on to Medicine Creek, where he engaged in ranching, accumulating a large herd of cattle for a 700 acre ranch known as the Dent Ranch.

In 1892 the region was opened to early settlers for homesteads.  Settlements were along Medicine Creek and settlers were “Ribney’s, Wilson, Dent, Gilman, Byre, Rearick, Seaman, Molash, Hollenbeack, Tieson, Lien, O’Malley, Halversgaard, Hagenson, Selland, Hellickson, Pitans, Zoske, and Zickrick.”

It was in 1892 Wilson and Laura moved from Canton to Chamberlain, where they would live for the rest of their lives. .

On May 7, 1894  Laura’s step-mother, Sarah Jenette Ellwood Bailey died at St. Marie, Wisconsin.  Three years later, in the spring of 1897, Laura’s father, Aaron Bailey took ill and Laura traveled to Wisconsin to care for him.  Her father's health appeared to improve under her care; in June he sold his farm, disposed of his personal effects, and left with his daughter for her home in South Dakota.

Aaron Bailey did not reside long in South Dakota.  He died on Aug. 4, 1897,  age 82 years, 6 months and 9 days.

-- Princeton Wisconsin Republic, August 1897

“The news of the death of Aaron Bailey somewhat startled the community the latter part of last week.  He was well known, having been a resident of this county for forty years or more, and for nearly or quite twenty years has been a resident of the town of St. Marie, within a mile of that village. In the spring and early summer of this season he was very sick for many weeks, but finally under the care of a daughter, who came here from her home in South Dakota to care for him, he improved in strength. Early in June he sold his farm, and on the 23rd of June disposed of his personal effects and in a few days started with his daughter to her Dakota home. We learn that his death was sudden and unexpected. In the morning and forenoon he complained of a pain in his breast, but he became easier in the afternoon. Toward evening he stepped into his room and in a short time was found sitting upon his bed unconscious. A physician was summoned, but upon reaching him death had closed the life of Mr. Bailey.  He was 82 years of age.  His body arrived in Ripon and was interred last Saturday with members of his family who had gone before.  He leaves three sons and a daughter — Wm. H. of Washington, John of Ripon, Andrew C. of Colorado, and a daughter, Laura A. Dent of Chamberlain, S.D. where Mr. Bailey died August 4, 1897.

Mr. Bailey was a man of strong impulses and earnest resolution, and never held a grudge, but was as forgiving as a child.  His friendship in the high order of brotherhood and in the church was very highly prized. His home was always the home of the itinerant minister for nearly sixty years.  His generation has nearly all proceeded him to the other glorified shore.  But there were many of the present who rise to speak well of him.”

The inscription on his stone reads:  

Curious about the inscription I found …
“When sixteen, he enlisted in the Cavalry service during the Black Hawk War and remained until the close of the war, which occurred in 1832. He was aid to Col. Thompson of his regiment and received six wounds in the service and was honorably discharged.”

Wilson and Laura are shown on the census for Chamberlain, Brule, South Dakota in 1900 and 1910.
She was interested in the work of the Women's Relief Corps in Chamberlain and was elected President in 1905, she was also a member of the Eastern Star in Chamberlain for many years.

On Nov. 12, 1915 Laura & Wilson Dent celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

On Oct. 2, 1922 Wilson Marcellus Dent aged 77 years and 7 months died of heart failure and was buried at Riverview Cemetery in South Dakota.

In 1925 Laura was still living on the farm she owned.  The 1930 census shows her living with daughter Harriet Heneger and family.

Laura Ann (Bailey) Dent, 1846 - 1931, lover of music and art, whose paintings were "of a high order," died Feb. 14, 1931 and was buried in the Riverview Cemetery, Chamberlain, Brule Co., South Dakota.  She was 84.


Sandra Boudrou

Photos From the Past - Wilson M. Dent and Laura Bailey 1865

Wilson Dent (

Wilson and Laura Bailey Dent  (rootsweb)

Joseph H. Dent Family - by Sandra Boudrou

Aaron Bailey’s Family - by Sandra Boudrou

William H. Dent b. Canton, SD 1871 (genforum)

William H. Dent obituary

Charles Henry and Rebecca (Richmond) Bice

McGibbon Register Report Nov 2005

The History of Lincoln County (rootsweb)

Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1884
Letter regarding employees of Lower Brule school

The Executive Documents of the House of Representatives for the First Session of the Fifty - Second Congress 1891 - 1892; Congressional edition, Volume 2934

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Delia Van Pelt, wife of George Shields

Written in pencil on the reverse:  
Delia V. P. Shields

No. 2 New Chambers St.,

Delia Van Pelt, born April 17, 1844 in Kings Co., New York was descended from one of first Dutch families to settle in New Utrecht.   Delia was the 5th of the 6 children born to John Lott Van Pelt and his wife Anna Maria Cortelyou.

The children of John Lott Van Pelt and Anna Maria Cortelyou were:
  • Jacob Lefferts Van Pelt born May 9, 1836. A recluse and bachelor.  It was said that as a young man Jacob was jilted by the girl he loved and afterwards refused to have anything to do with anyone and preferred to keep to himself.  His friends and acquaintances respected his desire to be left alone and kept their distance.   For many years he lived in the old farm house at 86th St. and DeBruyn’s Lane. He confided in no one and little was known of his private life.  He left a fortune in money and real estate to be divided among the children of his brother John and sister Mary when he died of heart failure at age 71.
  • Townsend Cortelyou Van Pelt was born Nov., 1837; married Maria Elizabeth Ditmars on Oct. 24, 1866. After his marriage he took up residence in the ancestral home.  At the time the old Van Pelt manor house was a simple house.  Townsend Van Pelt added a second story, a well, and other modern conveniences.  He was the last “lord” of the manor.  He deeded Van Pelt Manor to the city on his death.
  • Mary L. Van Pelt born circa 1840 married Jeremiah Van Brunt of New Utrecht
  • Anna Cortelyou Van Pelt born April 23, 1841 - married George Shields Dec. 27, 1898
  • Delia C. Van Pelt born April 17, 1844 - wife of George Shields; died Nov. 3, 1875, age 31 
  • John Vanderbilt Van Pelt born  March 7, 1847  married Josephine G. Miller Sep. 17, 1858, died age 56, Feb. 17, 1904.
When I began researching Delia V. P. Shields there were 2 questions I hoped to answer.
1st … Why had she died so young?,
and 2nd …  Were Delia and her sister Anna married to the same George Shields?

Census records indicate that both of the parents of George Shields were born in Scotland but George himself was born circa 1825 - 28 in Washington county, New York; coming later to Manhattan and engaging in the wholesale butcher business at Washington Market.  I find only the one mention of George Shields being involved in the butcher business.  In the early 1860s he moved to Bath Beach, purchased several pieces of property in the Bath Beach / New Utrecht area and was afterwards known as a wealthy property owner and hotel proprietor. Sometime around 1866 he married Miss Delia Van Pelt.

When I find George and Delia Shields in the 1870 census, George's occupation is listed as “Hotel Keeper,” and in 1871, under Summer Resorts in a local paper, is an ad for the newly renovated and refurbished Bath Hotel, George Shields, Proprietor.  He was also noted as the owner and proprietor of the old Avon Beach Hotel where he had built several cottages; making his home in one of them.

George Shields and Delia Van Pelt had 2 sons:
  • William C. Shields born 1868 Kings Co., New York became a large property owner and bath house proprietor.
  • John “Jack” Van Pelt Shields - born 1872 in old Bath Beach, Brooklyn (Kings Co., NY) was the well known proprietor of Jack’s Tavern at Bellmore. He married Ann Albert and died at age 42 from injuries received in an automobile accident more than a year before.
Delia Shields died Nov. 3, 1875 at age 31.  I could find no mention of her cause of death.  I did find 2 newspaper articles that mentioned her death … one said she died at home, the other that she died in her husband’s arms.   Her obituary was equally unhelpful.

Shields - At Bath, Wednesday, November 3, Delia, wife of George Shields.  Funeral services on Saturday at 2 P. M., at her late residence.

Delia Van Pelt (31), wife of George Shields was buried in New Utrecht Cemetery, Bensonhurst, Kings County, New York.

I found the answer to my 2nd question; Were Delia and Anna married to the same man? in a newspaper article in the Carroll Herald dated Feb. 22, 1899


There were other articles written about the love story and marriage of George Shields and Delia’s sister Anna C.; articles that were more factual and less dramatic but the basic story line remained the same.

A couple of years after Delia’s death George asked her sister, Anna C., an attractive, well to do woman in her 30s, to marry him, but she refused, saying her first duty was to her mother who was weak and ailing. Anna told George that as long as her mother lived she would marry no one.

True to her word, Anna never married and she cared for her mother until her mother's death on December 14, 1898.  At the time of her mother's passing George Shields was in his 70s and Anna was 57.  They were married in a simple ceremony, less than 2 weeks later on December 27, 1898.

About his marriage George is quoted as saying, “Oh yes, I know the folks are staring and talking.  They may talk, and the boys and girls, God Bless them, may laugh at us and call us a pair of old fools.  But, you see, they don’t know what it is to wait 24 years for a woman or a man you love.  At 70 years I’ve found rest at last.”

On May 28, 1908, George Shields, one of the largest property owners in the Bath Beach and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn, died at his home of heart disease, following pneumonia.

Anna Cortelyou Van Pelt Shields, widow of George Shields died May 25, 1915 at Flatbush, Kings County, New York.

Descendents of Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven

Historical Sketch of the Zabriskie Homestead

Rumored Bath Beach Wedding - Brooklyn Eagle - Wednesday, December 18, 1895

Mr. Shields Weds Again - Brooklyn Eagle - Dec. 28, 1898

ROMANCE OF BATH BEACH - The Carroll Herald - Feb. 22, 1899

NEPHEWS AND NIECES GET VAN PELT ESTATE - Brooklyn Standard Union, June 13, 1907

George Shields Obituary - New York Daily Tribune - Friday May 29, 1908

Bellmore Hotel Man (John Shields) Succumbs at Mercy Hospital - Nassau Post - April 8, 1914 

Friends of Historic New Utrecht

History of Long Island by Peter Ross


Family Search

Friday, June 28, 2013

Photographer Samuel Broadbent



Broadbent & Co.
814 Chestnut St.,

Samuel Broadbent was the son of Dr. Samuel Broadbent, a physician and portrait painter who at 49 married the widow Abigail (Harris) Griswold in Hartford, Connecticut.  After the marriage Dr. Broadbent moved onto the Griswold homestead with Abigail and her children. They had two children together;  Samuel born Jan. 12, 1811 and a daughter Rowena born in 1813.

Dr. Broadbent died on April 2, 1828.  His death was attributed to the effects of dropsy and “high living”.   His wife Abigail lived to be 101. There was a lengthy write up, "Westersfield Centenarian 1773 - 1873, Mrs. Abigail Broadbent's 100th Birthday" in the  Hartford Weekly Times.  

By the time his father died, Samuel was already working as an itinerant painter and he'd become a successful portrait and miniature artist by 1840 when Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, introduced him to the daguerreotype process.  Professor Morse, who had learned the process from Daguerre himself, taught it to American photographers Samuel Broadbent, Albert Southworth, Edward Anthony and Mathew Brady.

Samuel Broadbent was not only a fine portrait artist, he was one of the very first to learn the daguerreotype process in America.

New York Sun 
April 10, 1841

DAGUERREOTYPE PORTRAITS, Taken from 10 o'clock A. M. until dark, at Professor Morse's studio, No. 136 Nassau street, opposite Brick Church, by S. BROADBENT. Professor Morse will generally be in attendance. Cloudy and even stormy weather present no obstacles to a successful result of the process.

On Jun. 14, 1841 Samuel Broadbent (30) married Catherine Cook (26).
I've found mention of 5 children:

  • Mary born  May 17, 1845; married Albert Gillespie Buzby on Nov. 8, 1865 and died May 16, 1869, five days after the birth of her daughter and the day before her 24th birthday.
  • Samuel W., born 1849;  occupation: photographer.  I think I've found him in the 1900 Census, as a single “artist” living in Pennsylvania.
  • Katie C. born circa 1853
  • Robert C., 1854 - 1918; occupation: photographer
  • George born circa 1860

Samuel worked as an itinerant artist before 1851 and moved around quite frequently.  Knowing where he was, and when, can be helpful when dating his photographs. The dates and addresses I've found are included as a separate list following this blog.

By 1845 when Samuel opened a gallery in Columbia, South Carolina his ad carried the title “colored Daguerreotype portraits.”

In addition to his colored daguerreotypes portraits, Samuel Broadbent was said to have often used a painted landscape backdrop for his daguerreotypes.   An 1853 newspaper advertisement for Broadbent & Co. reads, “Beautiful Landscape, Picturesque or Plain Backgrounds, at the option of the Sitter.”

In the 1860s Broadbent returned to painting while still maintaining a photographic studio with various partners.  In 1864 he painted the portrait of artist, Thomas Sully that was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1869.

Samuel Broadbent, portrait painter and daguerreian died July 24, 1880 and was buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia.   His sons Samuel W. and Robert C. Broadbent carried on the photography business.

Samuel Broadbent / When & Where:
Below is the list of dates and addresses I've found.

1840 - 41 - New York City, worked in the daguerreotype process for Samuel F. B. Morse

1841 - 42 - Listed as a daguerreian at 136 Nassau Street, New York City.

1843 - 44 - Listed as a daguerreian in Savannah, Georgia.

1845 - Visited Charleston, North Carolina as an itinerant daguerreotypist and operated a gallery at 271 King Street for a couple of months.  In 1845 he was noted as a daguerreian in both Macon and Athens, Georgia; Dec. 1845 - opened a gallery in Columbia, South Carolina.

1846 - 49 -  Listed as “artist” in Hartford, Connecticut.  He was listed without a business address and lived at 93 Main St.

1847 - Daguerreian in Wilmot’s studio in Savannah, and in partnership with Cary.

1848 - Broadbent made stops in Fayetteville and Raleigh, North Carolina to take daguerreotypes.

1849 - Broadbent settled in Wilmington.; 1849 - 50 Broadbent listed as a daguerreian at 211 Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD.; also listed there in partnership as Broadbent & Cary.   From 1849 - 51 Broadbent was also listed as a daguerreian in Wilmington, Delaware, in the Glazier Building, Third and Market Streets.

1851 - Settled in Philadelphia ; listed as a daguerreian at 136 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania., over Barley & Co., There he was listed in business as Broadbent & Co., with Sally G. Hewes.

1852 - 1857 - Listed alone as a daguerreian at 136 Chestnut St., Pennsylvania.

1853 - “Beautiful Landscape, Picturesque or Plain Backgrounds, at the option of the Sitter,” reads an 1853 Broadbent & Co. newspaper advertisement.

1858 - Daguerreian at 428 Chestnut St., Pennsylvania. in business as Broadbent & Co., in partnership with F. A. Wenderoth;  Broadbent & Co. (active 1858-1863)

1859 - 60 - The address changed to 814 Chestnut St. but the partnership continued.

1868 - Partnered with Phillips until 1874, Phillips retained the old name of Broadbent & Phillips at his studio until 1881, a year after Samuel Broadbent’s death.

1870 - Broadbent & Phillips (active 1870-1881)

1878 - Broadbent & Taylor (active 1878-1884)


Photographers in The New York Public Library’s Photography Collection

Perceptual Rendering of HDR in Painting and Photography by John J. McCann

CATCHING A SHADOW Daguerreotypes in Philadelphia 1839 - 1860

Craig's Daguerreian Registry

American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Samuel F. B. Morse and the Daguerreotype: Art and Science in American by Sarah Catherine Gillespie

Partners With the Sun: South Carolina Photographers, 1840-1940 By Harvey S. Teal

FamilySearch - Samuel Broadbent

Encyclopedia of American Folk Art edited by Gerard C. Wertkin

American Portrait Miniatures in the Manney Collection by Dale T. Johnson

Connecticut Historical Society 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Photographer James Wallace Black



The young woman wasn't identified but her dress was beautiful and the backstamp belonged to an important early American photographer.

James Wallace Black was born in 1825 in Francestown, New Hampshire.  His father died in 1838 when he was just 13 and James took work where he could find it, working first in a tannery and then in a cotton mill before learning daguerreotypy.  In Boston he operated a rotary buffing machine used to polish the silver coated daguerreotype plates at L. H. Hale’s gallery before finally becoming an apprentice to John Adams Whipple, a well known Boston photographer.

In 1856 Black became a full partner under the name Whipple and Black. During this time he honed his portrait skills and became known for capturing the essence of his subjects, but even though J. W. Black took the photographs of some very notable people and was very good at it, it was the photos he took outside of his Boston studio that made him famous.

On June 9, 1859, James Wallace Black (34) married Frances “Fanny” Georgiana Sharp (26), the daughter of painter and lithographer William Sharp. This was the same year he took the photograph of the abolitionist John Brown, and the year Brown led his raid at Harper’s Ferry.

In the fall of 1859 Whipple and Black ended their partnership and soon afterwards Black purchased the studio at 173 Washington St., Boston and entered in a partnership with daguerreotypist Perez M. Batchelder.

In March of 1860 the publishing firm of Thayer and Eldridge commissioned James Black to do a photograph of poet Walt Whitman to promote his 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass.

But it was on Oct. 13, 1860 that James Wallace Black made history, when, with the help of  balloon navigator Samuel King, they went up in the hot air balloon Queen of the Air, and tethered 1200 ft. over Boston, Black took the first successful aerial photograph in the United States.  Black’s photograph would later catch the attention of Oliver Wendell Holmes who gave it the title: Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.

In 1861, James and Frances Black had a daughter, Olive Parker.  The following year Black dissolved his partnership with Batchelder and for a time he enjoyed solo success (it was during this time of “solo success” that I think my photograph was taken, 1862 - 63), before he partnered with John G. Case from July 1864 - Feb. 1867, as Black and Case, Photographic Artists, at 163 and 173 Washington St., Boston, Massachusetts.

On March 11, 1867, a son Otis Fisher was born to James and Frances Black.

In 1869 James Black would take another well known photo … the last known photograph of Col. Kit Carson.

In the 1870s Black began to focus more on the Magic Lantern, a candlelight powered projector and a predecessor of the slide projector.

One evening, while Mr. J. W. Black of Boston, and his assistant, Mr. J. L. Dunmore, were about to begin a lantern exhibition, one of the gas bags (the lamp on the lantern projector was gas fuelled) exploded with tremendous force.  It threw Mr. Dunmore high in the air, burning him about the face and eyes; knocked Mr. Black senseless; drove a stick through the nose of the organist and damaged the organ loft, organ and church.  It was feared Mr. Dunmore would lose his sight but he recovered and a few years later Mr. Black and Mr. Dunmore became partners.

In 1872 Black captured panoramic views of the ruins after the Great Boston Fire.  These images which were published nationally are probably the images for which he is best known.

In 1874 Black changed the firm name to Black and Co. and in 1876 he partnered with his friend and former assistant, John L. Dunmore. By the late 1870s Black and Co.’s business consisted largely of lantern slide production.

James Wallace Black (70), was still doing business when he contracted pneumonia and died in Cambridge,  Massachusetts, Jan. 5, 1896.  He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

His photographs can be found in the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Boston Public Library, to name a few.

His daughter, Olive Parker Black became a landscape artist; his son, Otis Fisher Black became a chemist and taught at Harvard Medical School after closing his father's business in 1901.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mary Blakeley married Putney Crowell

On the reverse, written across the top in pencil is:
Putney Crowell’s
wife, Mary


Mary E. Blakeley was born June 30, 1845 in Nashua (or Marion) Township, Illinois to Alpheus Stone Blakeley and Mary E. Martin.  In the 1850 census, 5 year old Mary is living with her parents, her younger sister, Emma and her 75 year old grandmother, Mary E. Martin.

The 1860 Census is much more telling, I find four homes …

#943 is the home of Solen Crowell, a wealthy farmer, his wife Sarah and their children.  15 yr. old Mary E. Blakeley is a servant in this household.

#944 is unoccupied

#945 is the home of Mary’s parents; Alpheus and Mary Blakeley, and

#946 is the household of Jeremiah Crowell, his wife Betsey and their 26 year old son Putney.

On May 8, 1861, in the month before her 16th birthday, Mary E. Blakeley (15) is united in marriage to Putney Crowell (26).

Putney, the son of Jeremiah Crowell, a cooper, and Betsy Bickford was born in Hopkinton, New Hampshire on Dec. 26, 1834.  He was 13 years old when his parents settled in Marion.

Putney and Mary made their home with his parents and circa Feb. 1862, a daughter, Celestia Elizabeth Crowell was born.  I say circa because the only time I find a month mentioned in conjunction with Celestia’s birth year (1862) is on the findagrave site but the source isn’t cited and the date of birth on the headstone doesn’t show a month of birth either … it simply reads: 1862 - 1913.

Putney, a well to do farmer and respected citizen of Marion Township and his wife Mary continued to make their home with his parents until their deaths.  In 1865 Mary’s father-in-law, Jeremiah Crowell died; Betsey Crowell continued living with her son and daughter-in-law until her death in 1880.

On May 25, 1885, Mary and Putney’s daughter Celestia (23), married James Franklin Munger (28), the proprietor of the Rock Island House.

June 14, 1895, Putney Crowell, aged 60 yrs., 5 mos. and 18 days died.  Mary, his widow  continued to run the farm.  The 1900 Census shows Mary’s occupation as farmer and besides herself, her household includes one domestic servant and four farm laborers.  By 1910 the staff she employed had dropped to one servant and one farm laborer.

In 1913 Mary’s only living child, Celestia Elizabeth Crowell Munger dies.  After Celestia's death I could find no mention of Mary again until the 1930 census when she is 84 and living in the household of Ben and her granddaughter Nina (Munger) Erford.

Mary E. Crowell died 4 years later on Oct. 10, 1934, age 89 years.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sarah Catherine Coulter? ... maybe

This is the 4th and final photograph in the Holden / Reynolds / Wible / George family group, and of all the photos this one excited me the most because it's of a type I enjoy collecting.

I have several CDVs like this one.  The ones I collect all have a plain front with no gold borders or photographer markings.  The subject, either sitting or standing is shown full length, the props are minimal and the wall in the background plain.

I prefer a small photographer's backstamp to identify the location and a handwritten name that identifies the subject.

Needless to say I rarely get it all, but this one was so close. It didn't have the backstamp but I thought all the information written on the back more than made up for it.

On the reverse is written:

*great grandmother Holden
  mother of Margaret Ann
  Holden Reynolds
*Mrs. William Holden
*Sarah Elizabeth (Whiting) Holden

The section in pink is what was originally written by M. A., the writer of other notes I have.
The section in black is in a different handwriting and was added later.

It's rare to find this much information on a photograph.
It's not unusual to find a mistake or two,
but it is a bit unusual to find so many mistakes.

Early on I was disappointed to realize this could not possibly be a photograph of who it said it was, because, assuming a date of circa 1862, Elizabeth Sarah (Whiting) Holden born circa 1804 would have been in her late 50’s at the time it was taken.

That her name  "Elizabeth Sarah" was turned around and written as "Sarah Elizabeth" wasn't unusual, it happens, but she also wasn't Mrs. William Holden.  She was Mrs. James Holden.

My next thought was if this wasn't Elizabeth Holden than perhaps it was her daughter Margaret Holden, only Margaret, born in 1833, wasn't a good fit either because she would have been 29, married and the mother of four small children in 1862.

And this young lady simply doesn't look old enough or tired enough to be the mother of 4 young children.

So, I knew who this wasn't.  She wasn't Elizabeth Holden.  Margaret Holden seemed just as unlikely and a quick search of the George family didn't turn up any prospects there either, though it was interesting to note that just to really confuse things ... William's brother Charles George was married to Sarah's sister, Mary Coulter.

I tried a different tack hoping it might offer up some clues and traced the previous owners of the photos.  The notes that came with them led me to believe they were handed down from Ida Pauline Swem Wible Reynolds to her daughters Maggie Reynolds Arensberg and Bertha Reynolds Wilson.

So where would Ida get this particular photo?  The next generation back from her would be Sarah Catherine Coulter Wible George, the seamstress who married first Samuel Wible after the Civil War and married second, William George in 1881.  The mother, (step, foster or biological) of Ida, Charles, Huge, Noble, John, Bill, Annie and Essie.

Also when Sarah and William died in 1899, their daughter's Annie, 15 and Essie, 8, were still young but Ida was 25 and married, and as the eldest female in the family it seems likely she would have had a photograph of their mother.

And with Sarah the dates do fit, born in 1844 she would have been 18 in 1862.

And so ...

If this is a relative in the direct line of descent and if some of what is written on the back is correct,  (i.e. that her first name was Sarah and she married a William), than my most likely candidate is Sarah Catherine Coulter.

I did manage to find one photograph of Sarah Catherine Coulter to compare to and even though she appears older and thinner than the young lady in my photograph, I think there's a resemblance.

For now it's the best I can do but I believe there are other photographs of Sarah Coulter out there and there's always a chance I'll run across another one to compare to and be able to prove (or disprove) who this is and where she fits in the Holden / Reynolds / Wible / George families.