Hubert Slifer Smith at Work and Leisure

It’s unusual to find two photographs of the same individual–and even more unusual to find an “occupational” photo. So I was very excited when I found these two for sale, both idenfied in ink on the reverse as “Hubert Smith.”

The first, taken at Academy Studio, Cumberland, Maryland, shows Hubert dressed as a baker, holding one of the implements of his trade.

It wasn’t hard to locate a Hubert Slifer Smith (1885-1949) occupation baker, in the census records for Cumberland.

Born in Boonsboro, Washington County, Maryland to Omar S. Smith and Emma F. Houpt, Hubert Smith (1885-1949) married Scottish immigrant Elizabeth Walker. He and Elizabeth lived in Cumberland, where Hubert worked as a baker.

In 1917, when he registered for the draft, he was working for John M. Streett.

Streett had two bakeries, one in Frostburg, and one in Cumberland, at 80 Centre Street and later at 200-204 Centre Street. I’ve found adversisements in trade publications for Streett’s Famous Mother’s Bread; he also called his business Pure Food Bakery. An undated photograph in the Herman and Stacia Miller Collection shows Streett’s bakery with the proprietor and his workers standing out front.

Streett boasted about the cleanliness of his establishment, a feature dwelt upon in the Baker’s Review of 1915. “Leading grocers throughout Cumberland and ‘up the creek’ sell and recommend Streett’s Mother’s Bread,” said an ad in The Catholic Red Book of Western Maryland.

In the first photo, the skinny, slope-shouldered youth, almost lost in his uniform, wears an elaborate ribbon on his gleaming white shirt, but I haven’t been able to make out what it says. My best guess for the occasion of the portrait is one of Cumberland’s Labor Day parades, in which groups of tradesmen and craftsmen marched, dressed in the uniforms of their occupations.

The elaborate pin with a ribbon and badge resembles  old lodge badges of the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows that I’ve seen.

Confident manhood replaces callow youth in the portrait of Hubert Smith taken at the McCune Studio in Hagerstown, Maryland. Smith proudly shows off his dress clothes, including a top coat, gloves, and a natty homberg hat.

The McCune Studio, like the Academy Studio, isn’t listed in Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900. But Charles Brewer McCune (1869-1953) is memorialized on findagrave.com with his obituary and a photograph of his grave at Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown. According to that obituary, McCune practiced professional photography in Hagerstown for 35 years.

Both of these cabinet cards are non-standard sizes. The earlier card  mount measures 3″ x 6″  and the later McCune card is 5″ x 8″ –perhaps chosen to emphasize his lanky build. Both mounts, with their neutral colors and understated blind-embossed advertising marks reflect the more refined card portrait style of the early 1900s.

The Smiths’ lives were marked by the singular tragedy of deaths of their only child and grandchild.

Doris E. Smith (b. 1909, Cumberland, Md.) married handsome US Naval Academy graduate Robert Allen Joseph English (1899-1969), and they had a daughter, Roberta, in 1943.

Three years later, with her husband in Europe on extended duty with General Eisenhower’s staff, Doris killed herself and her daughter using gas from the oven in their Arlington, Virginia home.

“A prominent figure” forgotten: Dr. William Potter Shaw, Berlin, Pa.

Many–maybe most–people are forgotten. Some are remembered who ought to be obliterated, and some who should be recalled are lost to recollection.

So little is left of Dr. William Potter Shaw (1866-1933) that it is impossible to say what kind of man he was.  Here is what I know:

According to his obituary published in the Meyersdale Republican, William Potter Shaw, the son of Barton, Md. native George Shaw (1827-1912), was born “at the famous stone house along the National Highway, near Grantsville” (likely the Tomlinson Tavern and farm at Little Meadows). His mother was Harriet (Potter) Shaw (1832-1909).

Shaw was a teacher before entering the University of Maryland Medical School. He earned his MD in 1893 and settled down in Berlin, Pa. to practice medicine (Baltimore Sun 19 May 1893; Meyersdale Republican 16 March 1933).

He likely had this portrait taken as a memento of graduation; according to Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, Harry Lenfield Perkins (b. abt. 1854, Md.), son of photographer Palmer Lenfield Perkins, had a studio at 311 Baltimore Street between 1887 and 1897.

In 1903, Shaw married a girl from Middletown, in Frederick County, Md.: Miss Harriet Geisinger Shafer (1871-1949), daughter of school teacher Peter W. Shafer and Anne L. L. (Young) Shafer.

In their home at 401 Main Street, the Shaws raised  two daughters: Mary Elizabeth Shaw, a trained nurse who married accountant Robert B. Berkey, and Helen Louise Shaw, who remained single.

By 1910, the Shaws had enough money to keep a servant, whose occupation is given as “ostler, barn,” so they must have kept a horse and buggy for the doctor’s calls.

Although I haven’t found any evidence that Shaw was anything more than a competent country G.P., his obituary says that “Dr. Shaw was a prominent figure in the religious, social and civic life of the Berlin community.” He was a member of  Trinity Reformed Church, served on the Berlin Borough School Board and the Borough Council, and in 1931 was elected Burgess of Berlin Borough.

Although Dr. Shaw’s obituary does not mention his ancestry, my research strongly suggests he was descended from the Shaws who settled the Georges Creek area that became known as Barton, in Allegany County, Maryland. They mined coal, laid out towns, and amassed land and businesses.

Shaw’s father was George W. Shaw, and one family history researcher, Pat O’Toole, has a family tree that lists George W. Shaw’s father as being a grandson of English immigrant Rev. William Anthony Shaw (1757-1815) and Charlotte Trimble Shaw (1765-1844). Both are buried in Morrison Cemetery, Barton, Allegany Co., Md.

According to Pat O’Toole’s research, George Shaw’s parents were, Joseph and Francis Shaw.

I’ve traced them from Maryland to Barbour County, West Virginia. Descendants of George’s siblings, Benjamin, Samuel, and Harriett, settled there and in Buckhannon, Upshur County, West Virginia, where they were farmers and teachers.

Dr. Shaw’s brother, Henry Columbus Shaw (1852-1910), appears to have had both the popularity and business acumen of his forebears. H. C. Shaw, a coal mine owner and merchant, left a valuable estate in Somerset County, Pa. His funeral was said by the Meyersdale Republican to have been attended by hundreds.

Some years after Dr. Shaw’s death, his widow, their two daughters and son-in-law Robert Berkey left Berlin behind and moved to Long Beach, in Los Angeles, California, where descendants still live today. Nothing remains in Berlin of the Shaws to mark their approximately 40 years in the community.

I am grateful to the wonderful Meyersdale Public Library in Somerset, Pa., Pat O’Toole, Steve Colby’s amazing Cumberland Road Project, the digital archives of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the diligent researchers of the Allegany County, Md. Genweb for their resources and aid.

First National Bank, Cumberland by T. L. Darnell

Like a less attractive relation, the old First National Bank building, located at Baltimore and George streets in Cumberland, pictured here, is often overlooked in favor of its famous, Bruce Price-designed neighbor–the Second National Bank building at Baltimore and Liberty streets.

Considerable confusion exists because of the history of the reorganization of various banks in Cumberland over the centuries. I’m not  going to attempt to reconstruct this history here beyond its direct relevance to the two buildings.

These dates are based on the 1970s Allegany County Historic Site Inventory for the Maryland Historic Trust and Allegany County, A Pictorial History, by Lee G. Schwartz, Albert L. Feldstein and Joan H. Baldwin (Donning: Virginia Beach, Va., 1980):

  • The Cumberland Bank of Allegany was founded in 1812 and chartered as the First National Bank of Cumberland in 1864. It first located at Baltimore and George in 1858 (Pictorial, 91).
  • Pictured here, the First National Bank building  at Baltimore and George was built ca. 1889-1890 from a design by a forgotten architect. Although blurred, the date on this cabinet card photograph appears to be 1889. In 1912, the bank’s facade was either altered beyond recognition or a new building, which still exists, was built upon the same location. Further evidence of our building’s date of construction is the absence in this photo of the old YMCA building to its right, which is clearly visible in later photographs. According to Schwartz, et. al., the old YMCA building was built about 1893 as a three-story structure; two more stories were added in 1910 (Pictorial, 40). An article focusing on changes in this block dates the old YMCA building to 1894. I think today the newer bank building at Baltimore and George is occupied by the First Peoples Community Federal Credit Union.
  • Bruce Price designed the more ornate and famous Second National Bank building at Baltimore and Liberty. According to Schwartz, et. al., the Second National Bank of Cumberland was chartered in 1865 and moved to Baltimore and Liberty in 1868 (Pictorial, 24). Some sources give 1888 as the Price building’s origin; others ca. 1893. A historic marker on this building confusingly identifies it as the First National Bank, because in 1963 Second National merged with First National to become First National Bank and Trust Company. This  building exhibits the distinctive “round-arched Romanesque style” and “steep-gabled wall dormer” described in its survey for the Historic Site Inventory  of Allegany County. The Price building at Baltimore and Liberty, on the pedestrian mall, is now occupied by Susquehanna Bank (some sites on the web still say Farmers and Merchants Bank).

Now back to our photograph. During this period, according to Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers,  the studio of Thomas L. Darnell (1825-1908) was located at 96 Baltimore Street in Cumberland, and I’ve found other Darnell cabinet cards with the location 106 Baltimore Street.

Kelbaugh dates cards that include “and Son” to 1880-1901, but this card, dated 1889, doesn’t fit that schema. We know the photograph depicts a building ca. 1889-1893, so more work on Darnell’s business history remains to be done.

Darnell includes a few figures to add life and scale to the scene, which captured the building’s facade with the sun full upon it. Only slight shadows in casement corners pick out the lines of the high, handsome, leaded double-height windows.

Face of a Lonaconing Fleming?

Since writing my previous posts about the McAlpine family of Lonaconing, Maryland, I was able to borrow a copy of The Lonaconing Legacy: Its Cornish and Scottish Sons and Daughters, by Thomas Witwer Richards and Sally Miller Atkinson.

Primarily a genealogy of the authors’ families, the book, published in 2000, offers fascinating glimpses of what life was like for immigrant coal mining families, especially the tight-knit clan of related Peebles, Richards, Loves and McAlpines who lived and worked in Lonaconing during its coal-mining heyday.

Janet Douglas Peebles (1814-1892), widow of Thomas Peebles Sr. (1812-1859), had a brother who came to Lonaconing in 1851. John Douglas “became mine boss with the George’s Creek Coal and Iron Company in 1853,” and then was promoted to Superintendent in 1863 (Legacy, 130).

“Douglas relied upon his Peebles, McAlpine, and Love kinsmen to form the backbone of the company’s work force, and the better jobs were available to them. . . . Family members had job opportunities even in the slowest of times” (Legacy, 130).

Close ties with company management may have made these workers less amenable to labor organizing, minimizing strikes and unrest.

Extended family provided personal support as well, such as living quarters for relations and helping widowed miners with child care.

But besides filling in some of the detail about life in Lonaconing during its coal mining height, the book  includes reproductions of rarely-seen early photographs of family members.

Several photographs of Fleming sisters, especially portraits of Mary Fleming Peebles (1839-1915) wife of Thomas Peebles, Jr. (1836-1911),  in middle age, bear resemblance to the unidentified photograph of the middle-aged woman in the portrait above.

But is the timing right?

According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900, Cumberland photographer Thomas L. Darnell used the advertising mark “Darnell and Son” from 1880 to 1901. This doesn’t help us narrow down the photo’s date, but her clothing might.

Her hair still dark and lustrous, the woman in this cabinet card photograph appears to be in her late 30s or 40s. Her dress’ high collar with linen band, and tight, button-decorated bodice reflect 1880s fashion (see Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900).

So, if we guess at an 1880s date for this portrait, the subject might have been born in the 1840s. 

Elizabeth Fleming (1848-1909) was born in Denny, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Richards and Atkinson relate that Elizabeth met her future husband, John McAlpine (1845-1914), while sojourning in Lonaconing with her elder sister, Mary Fleming Peebles.

Elizabeth Fleming McAlpine would have been in her late 30s or early 40s at the time of this portrait, and I am sorely tempted to conjecture that she is the subject.

Sally Miller Atkinson, a descendant of this group of related families who has done extensive research on her ancestors,  has looked at the photo, however, and asserts that she does not recognize the woman.

So, without further visual evidence, the mystery persists.

Meet the McAlpines: Unidentified Cabinet Card Photographs from Cumberland, Maryland


In addition to the unidentified house and the portrait of Emily and David McAlpine, the group of  Allegany County, Maryland cabinet card photographs I recently acquired includes five other unidentified portraits.

Card mount styles, props and backgrounds suggest they were taken during the 1880s-1890s. Some of the subjects might be a few of David’s five brothers and their wives: Robert, John, James, Walter, and George, sons of John McAlpine (b. abt. 1821) and Barbara (Bell) McAlpine. All, I believe, were born in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

All except one were taken at the studio of Thomas L. Darnell, Cumberland, who, according to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900, operated in Cumberland ca. 1870-1900. One mount bears the date 1889.

  • John McAlpine(1845-1914) m. Elizabeth Fleming 1869 in Allegany Co., Md.
  • James McAlpine(1847-1932) m. 1) Jane Fleming; 2) 1892 Elizabeth M. Nichols
  • Robert McAlpine (b. abt. 1849)
  • Walter McAlpine (b. abt. 1854) m. Christina
  • George (b. abt. 1867; may have remained in Scotland)

There was also a sister, Agnes (b. abt. 1863, Lanarkshire, Scotland), who only appears in the 1880 census in Lonaconing. She may have married or died.

Like many others from Scotland, the McAlpines came to Allegany County to work in the coal mines. Many stayed put, but two sons of James and Elizabeth (Nichols) McAlpineStephen and Walter— migrated to Cuyahoga County, Ohio.

Other surnames in the tree I’ve constructed include Duckworth, Hardegen, Boughton, Barclay, Butts, Peel, Hausrath and Somerville; Ohio branch surnames include Zoll, Swift, Wyter and Covell.

Recognize any of the folks in these photos? Would love to hear from you.
Gratitude to findagrave.com member Sally Atkinson for her excellent research on James and John McAlpine and their wives and children.

McAlpine Mystery House, Lonaconing?

Along with David McAlpine’s Cumberland, Maryland portrait (see prior post), there were, in this rescued collection, five other portraits of family members, all unidentified, and this cabinet card photograph of a house.

There are two houses directly linked to the Lonaconing McAlpines, and they are on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties: The James McAlpine House, Knapp’s Meadow, and the McAlpine House on George’s Creek Road.

I’ve looked at photographs of the James McAlpine house from the documentation for its historic status, and this house just doesn’t seem to be a match.

The McAlpine house on George’s Run Road doesn’t look like this house, either.

So, is this house in the Lonaconing area? If so, where is it? Was it ever owned by a McAlpine? And who are the people in the picture?

David McAlpine, Lonaconing Coal Miner

This cabinet card portrait by Thomas L. Darnell (1825-1908) of Cumberland, Maryland, was one of a small group of photographs I recently rescued from an internet auction site. Unfortunately, despite resemblances among the sitters, this is the only one with an identification.

To complicate matters, there were several David McAlpines in Lonaconing. Because of the sitters’ clothing and the style of photograph, I ruled out the younger ones, and tentatively identified David McAlpine as born in Scotland, about 1856. I believe he was one of a family of Scots immigrant coal miners who settled in Lonaconing, Maryland in the late 1860s-early 1870s.

John McAlpine (b. abt. 1821, Scotland) came to Lonaconing with his seven  children, John Jr. (1845-1914), James, David, Walter, Agnes, Robert and George.

According to an obituary and notes on a memorial for David’s brother James McAlpine (1847-1932) their mother was Barbara Bell, and they were related through their mother to Alexander Graham Bell of telephone fame.

If this was David McAlpine’s wedding or engagement portrait, ca. 1885, then his companion would be Emily B. McAlpine (1860-1941).  Emily’s left hand rests against her white dress so as to show off several rings, a common pose in nuptial photographs.

David McAlpine died on 22 March 1899, and is buried in Old Coney Cemetery, Knapp’s Meadow, near Lonaconing. His death and life just prior are a mystery in themselves. According to the Genealogical Society of Allegany County’s “Allegany County Maryland Rural Cemeteries,” his grave marker in Old Coney Cemetery says “Co. B 1st Md. Inf. Span. Am. War.”

The roster of the 1st Maryland Infantry lists him as a private in Company D, but the grave marker reader may easily have mistaken a “D” for a “B.” The troops moved several times between mustering at Belair Md. in May 1898 and disbanding at Camp Mackenzie near Augusta Georgia in February 1899. So David McAlpine died less than a month after returning home to Lonaconing.

His death notice in the Cumberland, Md. Evening Times, obtained through Frostburg State University, makes no mention of his time in the army, saying only that he “had suffered from nervous prostration for the past four years.”

His death notice also mentions that he had served as janitor at the Allegany County Courthouse. This is the sort of political patronage job given to constituents who might have been unable to continue working because of disability.

Was his shattered mental health the result of a trauma such as a mining accident? The investigation continues.

Regardless of how and why he died, David McAlpine left his wife with five young children: Elsie Bell (McAlpine) Carpenter, Alice B. (McAlpine) Hardegen, Allan, Mable Edith (McAlpine) Duckworth, and Hila Madaris (McAlpine) Zimmerman Collett, all born between 1887 and 1895.

Thomas Ludwick Darnell was born near Poolesville in Montgomery County, Maryland, to Fielder Darnell (1798-1858) and Elizabeth  (Young) Darnell. Darnell, or Darnall, was an old, slave-holding Maryland family.According to Hartzler’s Marylanders in the Confederacy, Thomas served  as a private in Company B of the 2nd Maryland Cavalry during the Civil War.

Sometime between 1860, when he was working as a clerk in Washington, DC, and 1870, he settled in Cumberland as a professional photographer; his studio was for many years on Baltimore Street.  Assisted by his daughter Bertie and his son, William, Darnell produced untold numbers of cartes de visite and cabinet cards, as well as stereoviews of the developing coal regions of the Cumberland area.

He retired to Raleigh, North Carolina, several years before his death there in 1908. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, North Carolina, along with his wife, Adeline (Bartruff) Darnell, and four of his daughters.

Next up: “McAlpine Mystery House?”

Mrs. Ida Mathis Johnson of Cumberland, Maryland

This portrait of Ida Mathis Johnson, wife of  Cumberland, Md. physician Dr. James Thomas Johnson (see previous post) was taken at a Towles Studio. Brothers Clarence O. and William H. Towles owned two studios, one in Frostburg and one in Cumberland, ca. 1899-1901; they both had moved to Washington, DC ca. 1910.

According to a 1923 biographical sketch of Dr. James T. Johnson, the couple married in 1896. While the sketch gives her home at the time as Philadelphia, census and passport records indicate Ida, or “Lidie,” Mathis, was born 24 August 1872 in Tuckerton, Burlington County, New Jersey, to farmer Shreve B. Mathis and Elizabeth King Mathis.

Before her marriage, Ida Mathis was superintendent of Western Maryland Hospital, an impressive job for a woman in 1895 (Directory of Cumberland and Allegany County 1895-1896). Her work explains how she must have met her future husband. Mathis graduated from the nursing school at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, in 1891 (American Journal of Nursing, v. 10, 1910)at the time, one of the most highly respected nurse training centers in the country.

The Mathis family history is well-documented by Joyce Kintzel. The family traced its descent from Welsh immigrant John Mathews and Quaker Alice Andrews. Based in Bass River, “Great” John Mathis became one of the dominant landowners and businessmen in southern new Jersey, believed to have owned about 5,000 acres there by the American Revolution. The Mathis family burial ground in Chestnut Neck, New Jersey, as well as Greenwood Cemetery and the Friends burial ground, hold the remains of  family members.

Ida’s distinctive hairstyle helps date her portrait. According to Joan Severa’s Dressed for the Photographer, This top-knot style was fashionable for a short time ca. 1896. The sleeve style also aids in dating: A sleeve with unsupported shoulder puff atop a tight lower arm followed the “collapse” of the exaggerated, broad leg o’mutton sleeve of the mid 90s. I’m going to take a stab at a guess of ca. 1896-1898 for a portrait date.

She holds the tip of her feather or fur boa in her left hand, perhaps to bring attention to an engagement ring.

Dr. James Thomas Johnson of Cumberland, Maryland

An unidentified photographer took this ca. 1900 portrait of Dr. James Thomas Johnson, Sr. (1869-1938).

According to a fawning 1923 biographical sketch in Distinguished Citizens of Allegany County, Johnson was born in Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama to farmer Thomas Johnson (b. abt. 1812, North Carolina).

After attending the State Normal School in Florence, young Johnson studied medicine at New York University for two years, then continued at the University of Maryland. Johnson graduated from that institution in 1892, did a year of post-graduate work there, and practiced in Baltimore until 1894, when he came to Cumberland and opened up a practice.

A news item says he was named chief physician at Western Maryland Hospital there in 1893, but neither his biography nor his brief obituary mention this.

He married a Miss Ida Mathis in 1896, and they had three children: James Thomas Johnson Jr., Elizabeth Olga Johnson, and William R. Johnson.

By 1920, Johnson was prosperous enough to live in a large house on Washington Street, probably in what is now the Washington Street Historic District, near Prospect Square, and to employ three servants. Johnson sent all three of his children to college, including Elizabeth, who attended Goucher College in Baltimore.

Elizabeth traveled to Europe in 1923, and listed her address as 24 Washington Street, Cumberland, near Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Other documents give their address as 31 Washington Street. Whatever the number, this area near Prospect Square was one of the best neighborhoods in Cumberland.

Johnson may have become prosperous not just through his medical and surgical practice. In 1903, he entered into a partnership with the new owner of the Wills Mountain Inn. They turned the old inn  into the Wills Mountain Sanatorium–a posh convalescent home. The structure burned down in 1930.

Captain John Bond Winslow of Cumberland

John Bond Winslow (b. abt. 1839, New Jersey) perches, to ludicrous effect, on a “pile” of ca. 1870s faux rocks in the Cumberland, Maryland photographic studio of F. G. Wilhelmi.

The incongruous sylvan staging of this very serious, no-nonsense man demonstrates the decade’s mania for props that simulated the outdoors.

According to Winslow Memorial: Family records of the Winslows and their descendants, Capt. Winslow was the son of Margaret-Emily Sergeant of Morristown, New Jersey, and Vermont merchant John Winslow (1802-1839), who died at sea about the time of  John Bond Winslow’s birth.

John B. Winslow’s grandfather, farmer John Winslow (1767-1852) helped to settle the town of Williston, Vermont and was a deacon of the Congregational Church for over four decades. According to the family history, the Winslows were among the first settlers of Plymouth Massachusetts, and counted Plymouth Colony Governor Edward Winslow among their ancestors.

Emily took her son to live with the boy’s uncle George T. Cobb, in New York and later in Morristown. John B. entered the banking business in Morristown, where he remained until the war.

He served in the Quartermaster’s Corps of the Union Volunteers during the Civil War, and mustered out in 1866 with the rank of captain.

In 1870, he was working as the Hampshire and Baltimore Coal Company’s shipping agent in Cumberland.

According to an 1866 report, the company owned two productive tracts, one in Piedmont, West Virginia, and one 12 miles from Piedmont, at George’s Creek.

The coal was transported by train, and either proceeded by train to Baltimore harbor, or was transferred to a fleet of company-owned C & O Canal boats at Cumberland  (one boat was named the “Capt. J. B. Winslow”), and thence to the north via the inland water route.

Winslow married around 1872, but his young wife, Susan Mary Troxell, died in 1879 at the age of 27. She left him with a small son, Herbert Markley Winslow, who was born about 1873.

According to the Baltimore SUN, Winslow’s life did not end well:

“Information was received here today of the death, in Spring Grove Asylum yesterday, of Capt. J. B. Winslow, formerly of Cumberland, who was taken to the institution a year ago.  The deceased was well known here, having been at one time shipping agent of the Hampshire and Baltimore Coal Company” (5 May 1887).

According to a May 1928 Cumberland Evening Times survey of veterans buried in the vicinity, Winslow is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Cumberland.