Another View of ” ‘Shucking’ Oysters”

One of the most common Baltimore stereoviews I’ve seen, aside from the monuments, is Keystone View Company’s ” ‘Shucking’ Oysters, Oyster House, Baltimore, Md.”

Views like this one were meant both to entertain and inform the armchair tourist. The text on the back of the view offers educational information about the oyster industry in America: how oysters are caught and processed, and the place of the oyster harvest in American fish and seafood production.

This view is a well-known depiction of one kind of working class women’s labor in Baltimore in the early years of the 20th century. While the anonymous writer dismisses shucking as consisting of  “merely of removing the shells,” Paula J. Johnson’s study of work at an oyster house on the Patuxent shows that “of all the tasks involved in the entire oyster house work activity, shucking was the only one requiring  mastery of a complex of technical skills and know-how.”

Yet,  as Johnson documents in “Sloppy Work for Women: Shucking Oysters on the Patuxent,” “historically, shucking oysters was considered a menial, dirty job, typically relegated to the poorest people. In Maryland, this meant immigrants, women, blacks and children” (38).

After 1865, thousands of white women, most of foreign birth, worked as shuckers in Baltimore. As was typical in an oyster house, the women stand in wooden stalls, in a cold, damp building, probably for 12 hours a day, six days a week, for a dollar or two a day, depending on one’s speed and skill.

These women wear rubber aprons, but are using their bare hands to slice open the wet, muddy shells. In order to bring the meat out intact, and thus get the best money, one had to learn how to slice through the muscles of the oyster without cutting the meat.

Once removed, the meats were placed in separate buckets according to size. Empty shells are tossed at their feet for removal. Shuckers brought full buckets to a counter between shucking and packing rooms for rinsing, grading and weighing. Tallies were kept on a chalk board.

Because each oyster is unique, shucking resisted mechanization. No inventor was ever successful in designing a machine that could do what the human shucker could do.

Johnson’s essay can be found in the 1988 volume for which she served as editor: Working the Water: The Commercial Fisheries of Maryland’s Patuxent River (Charlottesville: Calvert Marine Museum and the University Press of Virginia Press).

In addition to several essays, this invaluable book contains photographs of 148 implements and other kinds of equipment used in the Patuxent fisheries, from knives to water craft, as well as numerous images of watermen and others in the industry at work.

Margaret Robinson, Daughter of Sarah Chaplain Robinson

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This carte de visite by Walter J. L. Dyer is another in the group I purchased from the same Talbot County lot of card photographs. It depicts the vignetted  head of Margaret L. “Margie” Robinson, the daughter of Sarah Chaplain (b. abt. 1832, Trappe, Talbot Co., Md.) and James Lowery Robinson (1829-1914).

Sarah Chaplain was one of Dr. James Stevens Chaplain’s siblings (see prior post). The Chaplains traced their ancestry back to Francis Chaplain, who is believed to have arrived in Talbot County about 1660 from Suffolk County, England and settled around a village that became known as Trappe.

Trappe is about nine miles almost due south of Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The village grew up at the crossroads of two routes, one running north-south between Easton and Cambridge, and the other running east-west. Even though its population never seems to have been much above 400, the town had four churches, three physicians, and several hardware and general stores.

An 1877 map of Trappe shows Dr. James Stevens’ home on the south end of the village, and Mrs. J. L. Robinson’s home near the crossroads.

The vendor who removed this photo from its original album copied the notes he found there onto the back of the carte: “Margaret (Margie) Robinson, Aunt [illegible] daugther, died young” Born about 1863, probably in Baltimore, Margaret may have died between 1870 and 1880 based on her absence from the family in the 1880 census.

The pose chosen by Dyer is quite similar to that used in a carte of Margaret’s sister, Eliza Robinson Lloyd (see previous post): Lit from above , head turned to the right.

According to William Darrah’s Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography, the cherubs and camera motif was popular as a back-mark ca. 1866-1874.

During the 1860s and early 1870s, Dyer partnered with the New York-born photographer J. M. Van Wagner at the same address, 468 W. Baltimore Street, in Baltimore. Dyer, son of a Towson grocer, lived with the Van Wagner family in 1870.

At some point during the 1870s, Dyer became sole proprietor of the studio. By 1880, he had given up photography to go into the grocery business.

Eliza Robinson Lloyd of Trappe

This delicately side-lit carte de visite vignette of a very young Eliza Robinson Lloyd is one of the photographs sold from a Talbot County collection containing many card photos from the Chaplain family.

Eliza Robinson was the daughter of James Lowrey Robinson and Sarah S. Chaplain. Eliza (b. abt. 1860) , whose nickname may have been “Lida,” married Trappe farmer Charles B. Lloyd in 1883, when she was 23 years old.

Eliza and Charles had two children: Helen Lloyd and Charles Francis Lloyd (b. 1887, Easton or Trappe, Talbot County, Md.) Charles became an electrical engineer for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh. Helen remained single and lived in Easton with her parents.

Sarah Chaplain, Eliza’s mother, was the daughter of James Chaplain and Eliza Stevens. Sarah likely grew up in the small Talbot County village of Trappe. Her brother, Dr. James Stevens Chaplain, is the subject of an earlier post (see archive).

Both the Robinson and  Lloyd families were Trappe neighbors to the Chaplains. Charles Lloyd was the son of Trappe physician and farmer Dr. Francis M. Lloyd.

Ross Kelbaugh’s directory dates the Van Wagner & Dyer studio at 468 West Baltimore Street to 1871. That would make Eliza 11 years old at the time of her portrait, but she looks a little younger.

Van Wagner is probably J. M. Van Wagner (b. abt. 1843, NY). Dyer is Walter J. L. Dyer (b. abt. 1843, Md.), who operated at the same studio without Van Wagner in 1872. The 1870 census for Baltimore city lists them in the same household, along with Van Wagner’s wife, Martha, and two children, Celia and Charles Van Wagner. Dyer may have been the son of Towson grocer Walter Dyer (b. abt. 1822, Md.)

Two Young Men by Jacob Byerly

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These two cartes de visite are probably my earliest examples of the work of Jacob Byerly, Frederick, Maryland’s earliest and most well-known photographer.

The unidentified young men in these portraits may have been soldiers; the vignette style that shows just the head and shoulders makes it difficult to identify their clothing. But bearded and sunburned, these two hale young men in the prime of their lives may, like many soldiers, have had their portraits taken at Byerly’s Market Street studio when passing through Frederick in 1862 (South Mountain, Antietam), 1863 (Gettysburg), and 1864 (Monocacy) during the Civil War.

They could also have been among the 9,000 or so soldiers who convalesced in Frederick after being wounded in these battles.

Ross Kelbaugh’s directory dates cartes de visite with this imprint to before 1866, when Byerly took his son J. Davis Byerly into the business. Since these photographs don’t have revenue stamps, we can be confident they were taken before 1864.

The simple three-line imprint and gold double border lines support this early dating. William Darrah places the double-border style to 1861-1869, so I’m going to guess that these date from sometime between 1861 and 1864.

A Woodberry “Hallelujah Lass”

This cabinet card photograph of an unidentified young female “salvationist” was taken after 1881 in Woodberry, the Jones Falls mill village just north and east of  Druid Hill Park.

The Salvation Army arrived in Baltimore in 1881, just a few years after the first family of “Salvationists” arrived in America from England.

This young woman may have been a member of what became known as the Hampden Corps, located a few blocks east of Falls Road on Roland Avenue in Hampden, the neighborhood on the eastern side of the Jones Falls and Woodberry.

The sitter wears a version of the newly-created Salvation Army “uniform,” a navy blue serge skirt, high-necked blouse, and the black straw hat with black silk band and trimmings. She carries a stack of the group’s publication, “War Cry,” which she probably sold on the streets of her neighborhood.

In her 1997 essay “Hallelujah Lasses and the Battle for Souls: Working- and Middle-Class Women in the Salvation Army in the United States, 1872-1896,” historian Lillian Taiz writes that the Salvation Army was an avenue to public careers for young women with limited vocational options. The corps offered women an opening to positions of authority and creativity within the organization, as well as relative equality with their male counterparts (Journal of Women’s History, 9:2, Summer 1997).

The demure uniform for women corps members, developed by Maud Bollington Booth, set young women evangelizing in the streets apart from “worldly” women of questionable morals, and helped make such work more acceptable to middle class arbiters of female behavior.

Booth campaigned relentlessly for the Corps, both through middle-class “drawing room” gatherings and public lectures.

When she appeared in her corps uniform, writes Taiz, Booth “taught her audiences to distinguish Hallelujah Lasses from ordinary working women in the streets whose sexual conduct remained suspect” (95). “For working- and middle-class Salvationists, wearing the Salvation Army uniform publicly announced their rejection of either sins of the body or a life of luxury and ease” (91).

This youthful corps member interpreted the uniform through the two-piece skirt-and-waist  outfit that became popular in the late 1890s. Her extremely plain, simple, ill-fitting skirt is clearly homemade. Her baggy blouse, with its loose, subdued bishop sleeve gathered at the wrist, is determinedly unflattering.

Considering that this young woman’s work would have been in an urban setting, the sylvan painted backdrop against which she is photographed is more than ordinarily incongruous. The backdrop, along with a papier mache column, were popular studio props from about 1880 on.

Ross Kelbaugh’s directory does not include the firm name of Armiger & Fuhrman, but Benjamin W. Armiger (1851-1932) and William Furhman are both listed separately as having studios at 303 and 303-1/2 Falls Road during the 1890s and early 1900s.

Growing Up in Baltimore mentions that “the photographer Armiger of Woodberry was popular in this area at that time, and his studio was located on what was then Third Avenue, now 36th Street” in Hampden (Eden Unger Bowditch, Growing Up in Baltimore: A Photographic History, 2001, 29).

The current location of the Salvation Army Hampden Corps is at Roland Park and 34th, just a few blocks south of the business district where Armiger had his studio.

The excellent site Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos has a page on Benjamin W. Armiger, including a portrait. According to this site, Armiger was born in Anne Arundel County to farmers John W. and Harriet Neff Armiger. He  is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery, Baltimore.

Meet Mr. Willard C. Kefauver, Motorman

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Again I found two portraits of the same person in a group of card photographs. One was identified on the back as Willard C. Kefauver. Both were taken at  Bachrach and Bro. studios; the one on the left, with the dark chocolate mount, lists the address as “S.E. Corner Eutaw and Lexington.”

With a name like Willard Kefauver, he wasn’t hard to trace. Kefauver was born in 1861, probably in Frederick County, to Mary J. Dudrear (1837-1882) and Daniel Carlton Kefauver (1835-1914). Willard had a twin sister, Margaret Kefauver.

Daniel Kefauver was possibly the eldest of at least ten children of well-to-do Middletown, Frederick County farmer Henry Kefauver (1810-1876). The family spent at least some time living in Washington County. Henry, Daniel, Mary J. and other Kefauvers are buried in the cemetery of Christ Reformed Church, Middletown, Frederick Co., Maryland.

Willard did not remain in Frederick County. He moved to Baltimore, where he found work  as a motorman on railroad and the new electric trolley lines. He and his wife had a son, Russell Carlton Kefauver (b. 1890 or 1891, Baltimore), who also worked as a motorman.

Kefauver’s place of residence reflects the expansion of the city westward out Edmondson Avenue. In 1900, he and his family lived at 614 N. Payson Street, just north of Edmundson Avenue, several blocks west of Harlem Square, an area of modest but pleasant two-story, three bay brick row houses, many  built by prolific residential developer James Keelty.

I think it’s fairly safe to date both photographs to the 1880s. Mr. Kefauver is clearly younger and slimmer in the left-hand portrait. Darrah says rustic props such as the tree and bench were popular 1877-1885, and papier mache props–which these might be–were common 1880-1888.

The sitter appears  still young but definitely more well-fed in the left-hand portrait. The operator used a seated pose, with the bust filling most of the image area, common through 1890.

The chocolate mount with its elaborate advertising filling the entire card back places this photograph in the late 1880s-early 1890s. Ross Kelbaugh has documented Bachrach and Bro. at this location, Eutaw and Lexington, up to 1885.

What is indisputable is that the operator has caught something of the essence of the sitter’s character in the later portrait. Instead of a solemn youth awkward among contrived props, the camera  has now caught a mischievous twinkle that suggests a man who laughs often and enjoys life.

Three Portraits of Emma Albrecht

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I purchased a lot of photographs from Baltimore, I found that three of them were portraits of the same young woman, Emma Albrecht. All were taken between 1885 and 1891.

The earliest (top left),  a full-length portrait taken at the Baltimore Photographic Company, dates to ca. 1885. The photographer posed her seated, holding a book, against the sort of faux-sylvan/classical background popular in the 1880s. Her dark, high-collared dress features a box-pleated skirt and apron overskirt.

An 1885 advertisement for this concern lists three studios at different locations: Excelsior Studio, 20 N. Charles Street; Elite Studio, 66 Lexington Street; Monumental Studio, 121 & 123 Lexington Street. I haven’t yet been able to determine the owner of the company.

One possible candidate for owner of these three studios is artist and inventor David Acheson Woodward, who is known to have owned a studio called variously Monumental Photographic Company and Monumental Art Studio at 120 Lexington Street ca. 1885-1886.

The second portrait, a vignetted bust, was taken at the A. L. Rogers Studio, 112 N. Charles Street. This photograph can tentatively be dated to ca. 1891, because in that year Rogers bought the studio from Norval H. Busey.

The third portrait, also a vignetted bust, was taken at a studio owned by David J. Wilkes. Baltimore’s streets underwent a re-numbering in 1887, and since the advertising refers both to the old and new numbering on Baltimore Street, ca. 1887 seems like a reasonable guess for a date.

Unfortunately, identification, even with a name, is difficult without additional information. In Baltimore there are two Emma Albrechts listed in the 1880 census who seem about the right age, and two married Emma Albrechts in the 1900 census.

One possibility: Emma M. Albrecht, b. abt. 1867, Maryland, who married physician Caleb W. G. Rohrer in the late 1890s.

Richard Walzl Stereoview of the Concordia Building

Richard Walzl’s stereoview of the Concordia Buildings attests to the commercial success and pride in cultured pursuits of Baltimore’s German-speaking community.

The hall was the center of Baltimore German cultural and social activity.  Many of the prosperous German Jewish merchants who moved to the newly fashionable Eutaw Place in the 1880s were members of the Concordia Society. The Concordia was  “next to the Germania [Club] in social importance,” the Germania being the exclusive resort of the wealthiest German merchants of the city (Bierne, The Amiable Baltimoreans, 204-205)

Designed by German-born architect  Adolf Kluss, It was built on the southwest corner of Eutaw and Redwood (formerly German) streets by the Concordia German Association and opened for the first time in September 1865. The structure was destroyed by fire on June 10th 1891 (Official History of the Fire Department of the City of Baltimore, 1898)

The Stranger in Baltimore, an 1866 guide book, relates that the Concordia Building “is finished in the latest style, with every appointment of a club, and also contains a gorgeous theater, with an immense stage.” The Concordia included a subscription lending library of 3,500 volumes, as well as journals and newspapers in both German and English.

Scharf says that in February 1868 Charles Dickens “gave a course of readings, in the saloon of this building, which were largely attended” (695).

“A near riot ensued,” says Carleton Jones in Lost Baltimore Landmarks, “when Lincoln conspirator John Surratt attempted to present a program here on his return from Rome after the war” (47).

Richard Walzl, the well-known photographer, publisher, and purveyor of photographic supplies at 103 West Baltimore Street, seems to have favored turquoise for his stereoview mounts. This view is part of a series called “Baltimore and Vicinity” that included 45 images of important Baltimore structures, from the Battle Monument to the City Jail. Walzl likely published this view before 1876.

View another image of the Concordia Building by William M. Chase.

B & O Bridge Over Georges Creek, Piedmont, West Virginia

This lovely stereoview published by G. W. Robinson of 103 West Baltimore Street depicts a  rail bridge against a backdrop of water and hills.

Taken from slightly above, the view centers the mid-creek pier, and the glistening water draws the eye from there up toward the cleft between the gently sloping hills beyond. The photographer gives us a composition that celebrates  both the wilderness of the Alleghenies and the industrial ingenuity that has penetrated the mountains and made them accessible to the romantic viewer’s shaping eye.

According to the information printed on the back of the card, this bridge spanned Georges Creek at Piedmont, Mineral County, West Virginia. Georges Creek flows down an Allegheny County, Maryland valley from Frostburg to the Potomac. The valley was long mined for coal once the B & O reached Piedmont in the 1850s.

Photographer and local historian Christopher DellaMea’s website, Coal Fields of the Appalachian Mountains, has a good section on the Georges Creek coal field.

I haven’t been able to confirm the location of this bridge, when it was built, or when it was destroyed. It appears, to my untutored eye, to be a one-pier span of a Bollman truss design. It may once have been part of the Cumberland and Pennsylvania Railroad. The rail line up Georges Creek was operated by CSX up until 2006, when a small partnership bought the line and renamed it the George’s Creek Railway.

Is the perspective from the south, looking north up George’s Creek from Piedmont? Or from the north, looking south to the Potomac?

If you know anything about this bridge, its history, status, and location, please let me know.