Dentists I Have Not Known: Fred M. Wheeler, Nashua, New Hampshire

Of the six graduates of the University of Maryland Dental Department class of 1888 whose portraits I have written about,  Fred Morton Wheeler  is the only one who gave up dental practice.

Son of Nashua, New Hampshire job printer Harrison Rodney Wheeler (1841-1898) and Nettie (Mills) Wheeler, Fred was born in April 1866 in Nashua. In 1900 he was practicing dentistry in Milford, New Hampshire, but by 1910 he was working as a printer. In 1920, he had a  position as a clerk in the Manchester, New Hampshire post office, where he stayed for the rest of his known career.

Their family’s ancestry is well documented, thanks to Albert Gallatin Wheeler’s 1914 work The genealogical and encyclopedic history of the Wheeler family in America.

Fred’s grandfather was Daniel Wheeler (1789-1867), an Amherst, New Hampshire farmer. According to family historian Paul Wheeler, the family’s roots go back to American Revolution: great-grandfather Timothy Wheeler (1750-1826) served in Col. Nichols Regiment, New Hampshire Militia, and may have seen action at Fort Ticonderoga.

Fred and his wife, Mary (Batten) Wheeler had one daughter.  Mabel Florence (Wheeler) Lovering (1904-1996), taught school in Manchester before her marriage to Clarence E. Lovering (1905-2000).

Wheeler had his portrait taken at the studio of Russell & Company. Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900 dates Russell’s location at 17 & 203 W. Lexington Street to 1888, which corresponds nicely with the date of Wheeler’s graduation from dental school.

For this vignetted bust portrait, the photographer chose to add a touch of rose to Wheeler’s cheeks, probably on the print, to highlight the sitter’s youth and health.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. Theodore A. Cross, Piedmont, West Virginia

As far as I can determine, Theodore A. Cross, another 1888 graduate of the University of Maryland Dental Department, lived a quiet bachelor life as a Piedmont, West Virginia dentist.

He was born  9 Mar 1862 in Westernport, Md. to William R. Cross (1831-1895), who became head of the carpentry department for the B & O Railroad operations in Piedmont, and milliner Penelope (Jameson) Cross (1838-1891).

Piedmont was a key B & O Railroad hub, and in its heyday was a prosperous town. The Cross family’s upper middle class status probably enabled Theodore to study for a profession in Baltimore.

Dr. Cross died on 4 Mar 1944, Burlington, Mineral, West Virginia.He and his parents are buried in Philos Cemetery, Westernport, Allegany Co., Md. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias, Piedmont Company No. 10, Uniform Rank, which held graveside services for him at his death.

Cross had his cabinet card portrait taken at the studio of William Ashman (1863-1902). Ashman learned photography from his uncle, stereoview photographer and publisher William M. Chase. The young photographer worked  for David Bachrach, then in 1877 left to open his own studio.

As with many of the portraits of dentists I’ve written about, Cross’ photograph focuses on the bust and employs vignetting–careful overexposure of the background–to create a floating effect. The popularity of vignetting may point to a shift away from the gimmicky props and backdrops  of earlier years.

The technique has, however, the unfortunate side-effect of destroying depth and flattening the sitter’s image. Compare this lack of depth with the much more attractive and dimensional effect created when a nuanced, textural backdrop returned to the studio in the 1890s, as in this moody later Ashman portrait.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. Julian Gartrell, Brookeville, Maryland

Julian D. Gartrell was yet another dentist who graduated from the University of Maryland Dental Department in 1888, along with five others whose Baltimore cabinet card portraits I acquired earlier this year.

Born in Missouri on 1 April 1860, he grew up in the hamlet ofBrookevilleand the town of Olney, Montgomery County, Maryland, where his father, Rufus Worthington Gartrell (1824-1898), was a merchant and postmaster. Although not a distinguished family, their roots in Montgomery County went at least as far back as the American Revolution.

Rufus appears to have been the only one of five siblings who married and had children. Julian was one of three siblings, and all remained single.

In 1889 Gartrell joined the DC dental practice of C. E. Kennedy at 1426 New York Avenue, NW (Washington DC Evening Star, 23 May 1889).

Gartrell’s interest was oral prophylaxis, and he became a lecturer on this subject at the George Washington University School of Dentistry (GWU Bulletin March 1910).

His mother Caroline (Robinson) Gartrell, and his sisters Hallie May and Laura, kept house for him at 3025 15th St., NW.

Dr. Gartrell died 28 March 1943 in Washington, DC. His funeral was held at All Souls Episcopal Church, just a few blocks from his DC home.

He is buried, along with his parents and sisters Hallie and Laura, at Saint Johns Episcopal Church, Olney, Montgomery County, Md, the church his ancestor Caleb Gartrell helped to found in 1842.

John Philip Blessing (1835-1911) and son-in-law Henry Fenge were partners at 214 N. Charles Street in Baltimore from 1887 to 1904, a timeline that fits my tentative dating of this portrait to 1888 (Ross Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900).

As with many of the other portraits of Maryland doctors and dentists in my collection, the operator chose a vignetted bust for Gartrell’s portrait, in which the background is burned out to create a soft, floating effect.

I am grateful to descendant and family historian William Gartrell, who has posted a Gartrell family tree based on notes made by Hallie and Laura Gartrell and  The Gartrell/Gatrell Ancestry of Colonial Marylandby Randall A. Haines.

“The gospel of work”: Dr. Alexander Douglas McConachie

I’ve so far documented nine cabinet card photographs of dentists and physicians who studied and/or practiced in Baltimore.

Alexander Douglas McConachie (1864-1951)  number ten, is the only one not from the United States.

Born in Woodstock, Oxford, Ontario, Canada to Scots immigrants William and Elspeth (Shand) McConachie, Alexander came to Baltimore to study dental surgery and medicine in 1886.

He was part of the University of Maryland Department of Dental Surgery graduating class of 1888, along with Leonidas Wilson Davis and Frank Ryland Steel.

Dr. McConachie went on to study medicine at the University of Maryland and earned an MD there in 1890. He did post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins, and then pursued his medical studies in Europe.

During World War I, Dr. McConachie served in the Army Medical Corps in Orleans, France.

He was president of the Medical Alumni Association of the University of Maryland for 1923-1924, and a professor on the faculty of the Maryland Medical College.

McConachie settled in Baltimore and in 1898 married into an old Cecil County clan. His wife, Mollie Manly Thomas Drennen, through the Hylands traced her Elkton roots back the 18th century.

According to a Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Book, Mrs. McConachie was descended through her mother, Ann Elizabeth Worrall Manly, from a Lt. John Hyland, born in Kent County, Maryland, in 1746.

After his marriage, Dr, McConachie and his wife settled on Charles Street, in Baltimore, where they lived for the rest of their lives. McConachie, who specialized in disorders of the ear, nose and throat, had his practice at the same address for 50 years.

Dr. McConachie  took his Presbyterian Protestantism seriously. When asked for his definition of success, he told the authors of Men of Mark of Maryland:

“Being content and happy in doing my daily duty as it arises, I never feel the sting of failure, but if I have failed (according to the judgment of others), I should say that I have not succeeded in applying assiduously my gospel, which is a gospel of work, and more work, by which we work out our salvation here and hereafter.”

Fortunately, his gospel did not stop him from enjoying life. An avid sportsman, he loved the new pastime of “motoring” and “hoped to fly.” He liked movies and the theater, and read widely.

The portrait of the young doctor here was taken at the studio of William Ashman, probably as a graduation remembrance in the late 1880s. The National Library of Medicine’s later  portrait of Dr. McConachie shows a handsome man in his confident prime.

He and his wife are buried with his wife’s people in Elkton Cemetery, Cecil County.

The Other Buffham Brother: John Hardiman Buffham

Vintage photograph collectors may have heard of English-born George Richard Buffham (1846-1915), official photographer to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Buffham also had a studio in Baltimore, Maryland, which he ran under the name Buffham Brothers.

This is the other Buffham of Buffham Brothers: John Hardiman Buffham (1855-1940). Like George, John Buffham immigrated to the US from England in the 1870s and settled in Baltimore with his wife, Jessie, and mother, Mary Ann Johnson Buffham.

George and John first appear in the US census records in Baltimore in 1880 as “picture dealers.” They might have been exposed to the business through their father, George Richard Buffham, Sr., who had been a London carver and gilder–probably of frames.

George was apprenticed to a London “spectacle-maker,” and the training in grinding glass lenses must have served as a good background for an understanding of photography.

George Buffham moved to Annapolis and gained the appointment at the Naval Academy sometime between 1890 and 1900. He sold his studio, located at 48 Maryland Avenue, near Prince George Street,  in 1912.

Some of his most famous photos are studio portraits of future admirals Chester W. Nimitz Harold Rainsford  Stark and Wat Tyler Cluverius as  US Naval Academy cadets.

Buffham photographed many officers, Academy athletic teams, graduating class groups, as well as members of the Maryland General Assembly, and outdoor scenes of Annapolis and the Academy. The Maryland State Archives and the Library of Congress each hold small collections of his photographs.

While George focused on photography, John Hardiman Buffham gravitated toward business, eventually working as a representative of Baltimore’s Resinol Company. The company made cremes and soaps developed by Dr. Merville Hamilton Carter in his private practice. Buffham, who divided his time between Baltimore and England, became the company’s representative in London.

John died in London in 1940, leaving an estate of nearly £6,000 to his two daughters, Edith Mary (Buffham) Varney and Jessie Mabel (Buffham) Curry.

While George and John both kept a substantial presence in England, a third brother, carpenter Thomas Henry Buffham (1852-1921) settled in Port Chester, Westchester County, New York, for good. His descendants became solidly American, while John’s remained in England.

This cabinet card photograph lists the studio’s address at 116 South Broadway, Baltimore, a location that Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers says Buffham occupied between 1880 and 1889.

George Buffham’s bust portrait of John takes full advantage of John’s dark good looks, penetrating eyes, strikingly smooth, pale complexion and high forehead. Leaning dramatically toward the camera, John’s confident gaze compels the viewer to acknowledge and admire him.

John F. Wiley, Printer: “In his job, very skillful”

Official printer for the State of Maryland, member of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Board of Directors and the Maryland House of Delegates . . . These are just a few of the accomplishments that made John Francis Wiley (1822-1877) a valued, if forgotten, citizen of Baltimore.

Despite a rather long obituary in the Baltimore Sun, John Wiley’s origins are obscure. He was born in Baltimore, apprenticed to the Philadelphia Ledger as a printer’s devil in 1834, became foreman of that paper’s job printing operations, then returned to Baltimore to fill the same position for the Sun in 1852, later going into business on his own account.

In the mid-1870s he was appointed State Printer, in charge of producing all of Maryland state government’s official publications.  He was twice elected to the Maryland House of Delegates for Baltimore, but died before he could serve his second term.

According to his memorialists, Wiley was a thoughtful and well-read man, as well as a successful printer and public servant. He self-published a travel narrative documenting his observations on his and his wife’s one trip abroad.

Printed privately, his Letters from Europe in the year 1869 is so obscure that it has not been cataloged. The Maryland Historical Society’s H. Furlong Baldwin Library owns a copy, and one copy has surfaced on the web for sale by a purveyor of rare books.

When Wiley died at the age of 55, multiple newspapers published obituaries honoring his enterprise and character. The New York Herald called him “a purely self-made man” (New York Herald, 19 November 1877).

The Baltimore Sun‘s obituary was, naturally, the longest. The anonymous writer remembered him thus:

“He was a ready writer, and though he only made occasional efforts with the pen his writings from time to time displayed culture and observation. He had many warm personal friends. As a businessman he was prompt and intelligent, and in his job, very skillful” (Baltimore Sun, 21 November 1877).

He and his wife, Sally Forman Wiley, had no children. After his death, Mrs. Wiley moved to Philadelphia to live with her brother, William Wiley Forman, his wife Mary, and their daughters, Lillie, Sarah Wiley Forman and Elizabeth Forman.

There is a sad coda to his life story.

Because his wife made no will before her  death in 1897, her brother attempted to have her dying words accepted in lieu of a written statement of intentions. “Rheumatism,” said William Wiley’s attorney, “had affected . . . her hands to such an extent that she was able to write only with great pain and labor.”

But “everything is to go to Willie,” she had said, “Mary, don’t you or the children worry about anything. I want Willie–brother Willie–to have everything” (Pennsylvania State Reports, v. 187, p. 82 ff).

The Pennsylvania courts declined to recognize Mrs. Wiley’s words as a will, and in 1898, the unnamed opponents of William Forman’s case successfully defended against his appeal.

The card mount of this carte de visite portrait bears the blind emboss mark of daguerreotypist and photographer Jesse Harrison Whitehurst (1823-1875). According to Maryland photography historian Ross Kelbaugh, Whitehurst’s photographic studio was at 123 Baltimore Street from 1860 to 1864. Photographs taken between 1864 and 1866 were taxed by means of a  revenue stamp on the reverse. Since this carte lacks a revenue stamp, Wiley’s portrait might might well have been taken between 1860 and 1864.

Whitehurst was one of the most successful of the early daguerreans and photographers, operating galleries in multiple cities, including Washington, DC and New York.  According to what is known of him, he took up the daguerreotypy almost as soon as it was introduced in the United States, traveling from Virginia to New York to study the new technology.

“Mr. Whitehurst,” said his brief obituary in the journal Photographic Mosaics, “was celebrated for securing sittings from distinguished characters, of which he was supposed to have had the largest collection of negatives in this or any other country.”

Whitehurst’s highly-prized portraits of the famous include General J. E. B. Stuart, General Sam Houston, and the actor Edwin Booth.

Whitehurst daguerreotypes and photographs can be found in the collections of noted archives, historical societies and museums, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Library of Congress.

John Francis Wiley is buried in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.