Hannah and Her Sister: Gem Tintype of Christiana Schaeffer Warehime and Hannah Schaffer Leister

Gem tintype of Hannah Schaeffer Leister and Christiana Schaffer Warhime ca. 1863This gem-size tintype of Hannah Shaeffer Leister  (1803-1867) and Christiana Schaeffer Warehime (1798-1863) of Carroll County, Maryland had to have been taken in 1863, when the Wing gem tintype camera was invented, because Christiana died in 1863.

Gem tintypes were the most inexpensive way to get many copies of a likeness at once. The camera had 16 lenses, which exposed 16 images, each the size of a postage stamp, onto an iron plate. These were mounted between two pieces of paper or cardboard. The scoring at the top of the card mount may indicate where the mounted images were divided.

Photographers often used tinting to add warmth and life to the dark images, such as has been applied to the cheeks of the sisters here.

Westminster and environs were populous enough to support at least one photography studio. During this period, according to Carroll County photo historian Bob Porterfield, Henry B. Grammer  kept a studio at “the Point,” where Pennsylvania meets West Main Street (Photographers & Photographs of Carroll County 1840-1940, Hampstead, Md., 2004)

Judging from the number of family trees on ancestry.com that include Hannah and Christiana Schaeffer, there seems to be wide interest from descendants. But many of them lead back to the same source, a mysterious 1999 file called PAUL.FTW.

One important source may be a 2000 family history called Descendants of Johann Diel Bohne by Mary Frances Conner Williams, Jennie Gunderson Board, accessible only in a handful of libraries across the country and probably at the Historical Society of Carroll County.

From what I’ve been able to glimpse of this book on the web, Hannah and Christiana were the children of John Jacob Schaeffer (1755-1828) and Anna Maria Pouder. Both Hannah and Christiana married Westminster-area farmers: Hannah to David Leister (1790-1868), and Christiana (also known as Anna or Christina) to George Warehime (1790-1880).

The best evidence I’ve located are the many carefully documented graves in Carroll County cemeteries. John and Anna Maria Schaeffer, along with Hannah Schaeffer Leister and many others, are buried in Kriders Lutheran Church Cemetery near Westminster, Maryland.

Christiana Schaeffer Warehime and many other Warhimes are buried in Jerusalem Lutheran Church Cemetery, Bachman Valley, Carroll County, Maryland.

Hannah and Christiana dressed alike and have arranged their hair alike as well. Only slight differences in the style of buttons and the patterns of their white linen collars distinguish their costumes. But what draws the viewer is the way the sisters lean into one another, a posture that expresses the affection that led them to have their portrait taken not with their husbands or children, but together, as sisters.

Field Trip to Philadelphia: Florence Fisher Webb West

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On first reacquainting myself with Baltimore and environs some years ago, one thing that impressed me was the refreshingly utilitarian method of naming roads. Near my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ homes runs Philadelphia Road, which I prefer to call “the” Philadelphia Road–because that’s exactly what it was–the road to Philadelphia.

Recently I found myself  taking a metaphorical trip up the Philadelphia Road to explore the family ties of Mrs. Florence Fisher Webb West. After acquiring  a cabinet card identified as Mrs. Frank West by the Russell & Co. studio, No. 5 North Charles Street, Baltimore, I became increasingly interested in a collection of related family photos, mostly taken in Philadelphia.

Florence Fisher Webb was born in Philadelphia about 1871 to bookkeeper Samuel Webb (1842-1932) and Maria Christiana (Dunnott) Webb (1845-1928). Florence spent at least part of her childhood in the Philadelphia household of her aunt and uncle, Eliza Dunnott Gibson and bookbinder George Gibson.

Florence’s middle name honors her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Fisher Dunott (1824-1897). The Dunott family appears to have originated in Delaware, while the Webbs go far back in Philadelphia. Florence’s grandfather, John Webb, went to sea as a youth, served with the city militia during the nativist riots of 1844, and prospered as a hotel owner.

Florence married hardware salesman Frank West in 1897, son of Emma and Edwin West (1844-1909), an English-born bank clerk. Florence and Frank had one child, Jack Edwin West, born in 1899. Frank does not appear to have done particularly well financially. At first they lived with her parents at 1706 N. Sydenham Street, a neighborhood of three-story, two-bay Italianate row houses near what is now Temple University. In 1910 he gave his occupation as manufacturer of garters. In 1920 he was a “sanitary engineer” at an ordnance depot in Salem County, New Jersey.

1930 found Florence a widow. She and her son were again living with her parents on Sydenham Street in Philadelphia. After that, the trail goes cold. I know she was alive in 1932, because I found a record of invoices sent to her for the funeral and grave for her father with that date, addressed to her at 1706 N. Sydenham Street. That is the last trace of Florence Fisher Webb West.

Her son Jack lived alone in 1940, and gave his occupation at salesman in a sporting goods store. I learned that he served in the Army during World War II, but not what became of him afterwards.

I have another Russell & Co. portrait of Florence’s mother Maria, possibly taken during the same period. But what drew them to Baltimore? I still don’t know.