Carte de visite of Addie Bogle by Stanton & Butler, Baltimore, Md.
Reverse of carte de visite portrait of Addie Bogle.
The ebayer I bought this 1860s Stanton & Butler carte de visite from thought the surname was Boyle, but that “y” looked much more like a “g” to me, and so I set out to find an Adelaide Bogle who might have lived in Maryland and passed through Baltimore in the 1860s.
I promptly came across a good candidate: Adelaide Ann “Nannie” Bogle (1847-1917), daughter of South Carolina artist Robert Bogle (1817-1865) and Rosalie Adelaide Ann (Bailey) Bogle (1828-1896).
Census records show that the Bogles lived in a number of locations that could have sent them through Baltimore between 1850 and 1880, including Anne Arundel County, Georgetown, outside Washington, DC, and Edesville, in Kent County, Maryland.
According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers,Stanton & Butler operated at Fayette and Charles streets between 1864 and 1871. This time frame seems to fit the age and dress of our subject, who would have been about 20 years old in 1867.
I don’t know enough to judge more than roughly about clothing, but her hair, especially, seems to indicate an 1860s date. She wears it, either crimped or naturally wavy, drawn back behind her ears and gathered low on her neck, possibly in a net.
Later women’s hair fashions moved to up-does with “love locks,” false hair pieces, and then frizzed bangs.
Addie’s hair style shows off black glass or jet earrings that match a small black cross worn as a pendant, perhaps as mourning jewelry worn following the passing of her father in 1865.
Addie’s father was twin to the better-known Carolinas artist James Bogle (1871-1873). The National Academy of Design has several of James Bogle’s portraits in its collection, and others are likely scattered throughout the eastern seaboard, in public and private collections.
In 1884, Addie married Dr.James LaRoche Beckett of Johns Island, Charleston County, South Carolina. They had one son in 1890, James Augustine Young Beckett. Later they moved to Eufaula, Alabama, where Dr. Beckett died in 1910.
Dr. Beckett’s ancestry leads back to the colonial roots of slave-holding Johsn Island and Edisto Island, and include surnames such as Seabrook, LaRoche, and Murray.
Before her marriage, Addie Bogle and her siblings appear to have spent a good deal of their time in the Edesville area of Kent County, Maryland.
Addie’s brother Robert Bogle (1845-1905) farmed there; the youngest of the Bogle children, Newton S. Bogle (1863-1918) was postmaster and storekeeper on what is still known as Bogle’s Wharf on Eastern Neck Island, once a busy steamer stop on the Chester River. The area is now part of the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge.
According to the Archives of Ontario, Canada, Eldridge Stanton was born 7 March 1834 in Cobourg, Ontario and educated at Victoria University. In 1871, he sold his part of Stanton & Butler in Baltimore and returned to Toronto, where he practiced professional photography in several locations.
Stanton served as president of the Photographic Association of Canada in 1887-1888. He died in Toronto in 1907 and is buried in St. James Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario.
The Butler brothers, Joseph and Samuel, were also Canadians who operated a photography business in Baltimore, but I have not been able to find anything more about them beyond the 1870 census. They are listed as “Butler Brothers” in the photographers’ section of Woods Baltimore Business Directory for 1868-1869.
When Daniel Reed Stiltz (1837-1903) took this photograph of Mount Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church in 1864 (as it was called then), the church still had its steeple, bringing the height of the structure to 145 feet. A photo on the church’s website, bottom row, center, in their “oldies” gallery, shows the steeple toppled in a blizzard on March 1, 1914, and while the bell remains, the steeple was never replaced.
Robert Cary Long Jr. (1810-1849), creator of the gates of Green Mount Cemetery and the Patapsco Female Institute among many other public and private buildings, designed the gothic revival Mount Calvary Church in 1844-1845. Bishop Whittingham laid the corner stone for the new church on September 10, 1844 (Baltimore Sun, 10 September 1844, p. 2).
The church was originally Episcopal, but long deplored for its “Romish” ways. Yet it had a prosperous and distinguished following. Robert E. Lee is said to have worshiped there while living in Baltimore with his family. The congregation finally voted to join the Roman Catholic Churchin 2010 and in 2012 was admitted as a “Roman Catholic parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter,” a special dispensation for Amercian Anglican churches by Pope Benedict XVI.
Mount Calvary was also controversial for the missions its clergy undertook to Baltimore’s African-Americans. Most identified with this outreach were Anglo-Irish immigrant Reverend Joseph Richey (1843-1877) rector of Mount Calvary from 1872 until his death, and his assistant, Reverend Calbraith Bourn Perry(1846-1914). In 1884 Perry published an account of the work, Twelve Years Among the Colored People: A Record of the Work of Mount Calvary, Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin, Baltimore.
This photograph is one of four Stiltz architectural cartes de visite I own that I believe were part of a larger series he issued in 1864, the date of copyright on the back. Stiltz marketed himself as a “view photographer.” His office was upstairs at Butler, Perrigo & Way’s, 163 W. Baltimore Street.
The comments written on the bottom margin of these cartes refer to architectural details, so it’s possible these photographs belonged to an architect or builder who kept them for reference purposes.
The church is relatively small and unprepossessing from the outside, but the interior is quite beautiful, as shown in these photos taken by Stephen Schnurr. Because Stiltz photographed the church from ground level, when surrounding trees were in full leaf, the exterior is not as clear as in the photo shot from above (in the church’s online “oldies” gallery), probably from the same period.
According to an admiring Baltimore Sun description of the church’s design, published 19 February 1846, all of the interior details were designed by Long himself.
The stained glass was supervised by “Mr. Stephenson, superintendent of the glass-staining at Trinity Church, New York.” The height of the interior was enhanced by the use of an exposed beam structure; the pulpit, desk, and chancel railing are, said the writer, “all of solid walnut;” originally, it seems, the ceiling was painted a dark walnut hue to match the furnishings.
The effect seems to have been particularly striking.
“The whole effect of the dark roof and pews and the tinted atmosphere thrown in by the colored glass is so different from what we have been accustomed to see in our modern churches that it takes some little time for the eye to grow familiar with the intention of the architect. But the longer we remain on the premises the more imposing and satisfactory is the effect produced” (Baltimore Sun, 19 February 1846).
Retired architect Jim Wollon, a member of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation who worked for the church on ADA improvements some years ago, had a chance to explore the building and its history quite thoroughly.
Two other firms made substantial changes to the church, says Wollon. “Niernsee & Neilson added a larger nave with a very shallow chancel and T. ButlerGhequier(Long’s nephew) added a very deep chancel that penetrated the first row house just north of the church. . . . The colorful tiles of the choir and chancel were added by Ghequier and made by Minton of England, very typical in about last third of 19th century, [in] churches, major government buildings including the US Capitol, important residences; usually limited to entrances.”
Wollon thinks “the tiles in the chancel and choir are original, the long and wide marble steps all the way up to the altar. Below the steps down into the aisles between the pews — modern. Not sure I can see the tiles just below the steps down to another set of steps and a wooden rail, maybe a Communion rail; [they] may be replacements.”
The shallow chancel created by Niernsee & Neilson had a large, triangular window above the altar. That window was installed, says Wollon, “early to mid 1850s. That window is still there . . . but high and on the left side of the chancel, with one of matching size and shape but later 1880s glass is on the right side of the chancel, the Ghequier period.”
The Niernsee & Neilson chancel and window can be seen on the bottom row, far left, of the “oldies” photo gallery on the church’s website.
Notable on the margin of the carte are notes in period ink. Wollon explains: “The exterior brick was painted red, a darker red than the natural bricks . . . Typical finish in the 19th century. . . . In modern times all [the exterior] was sandblasted to remove the paint, out-of-style in the 20th century.”
In 1849, Long’s already brilliant but short career was cut off prematurely when he died suddenly of cholera while visiting Morristown, New Jersey. Although it has not been confirmed that Long is buried there, there is astone erected in Long’s memory in the cemetery of Morristown Presbyterian Church, Morristown, New Jersey.
People who research family history take different stances regarding the buying and selling of orphaned family photographs. Some refuse to buy them on principle; some take even more militant stances, engaging in small acts of illicit resistance.
You can condemn these sales as unseemly, but the reality is that without the trade in vintage photographs, most orphaned family photos would end up in the trash after more valued possessions are sold in estate sales.
So, I rescue what I can afford to, make family trees for the families on ancestry.com, and post the photos to the trees and to other sites like findagrave.com. At least this way, family structures are preserved on the web, and descendants have some chance of discovering their ancestors’ images. Ultimately, most of what I collect will go to archives and historical groups in Maryland.
This month, I dug into my frayed pockets to rescue an identified collection of about 20 vintage photographs from the early 1900s. All the individuals lived in Baltimore and Catonsville, Maryland, and are related to German immigrant John G. Schwartz (1847-1924) and his wife Anna H. Schlerf (b. abt. 1858, Baltimore, Md.).
Surnames of identifications inked on these photos, in addition to Schwartz, are Apy, Lemmerman, Schlerf, and Houff. Baltimore studios represented include J. H. Schaefer (John Henry Schaefer), Ernst Rudolph, Perkins (Harry Lenfield Perkins), and Russell (Mrs. Dora C. Russell).
I chose to start with this oversized (6″x8″) J. H. Schaefer cabinet card photograph because, despite its condition, this portrait represents the core of the Schwartz family:
Seated, center: John G. Schwartz and his wife Anna C. Schlerf; to their right, Edna F. M. Schwartz (1893-1975); to their left, Anna D. Schwartz (1880-1963).
Standing, left to right, are John and Anna’s three sons: George H. Schwartz (1886-1968) Walter H. Schwartz (1883-1965), and John F. Schwartz (b. abt. 1881).
Here is what I’ve been able to learn about John G. Schwartz.
He was born in an as-yet-unidentified part of Germany. The earliest census record for him I’ve found is 1880, when he married and listed as a “feed dealer.”
In 1900, he identified himself as a grocer, and the census-taker recorded his year of immigration as 1856. The family lived on North Schroeder Street.
Sometime between 1900 and 1910, the family moved to 520 N. Fulton Avenue, an area of three story, two- and three-bay Italianate row houses.
According to his Baltimore SUN obituary, John G. Schwartz “for the last 50 years conducted a stall in Lexington Market. He was one of the pioneers in its development.” He was said to have among his living relations a sister, Mrs. Caroline Mable, and a brother, Frederick Schwartz. John was a member of St. Paul’s “German Evangelical Lutheran Church,” and was buried in their cemetery in a neighborhood called Violetville.
The Violetville St. Paul’s Cemetery is located at 1022 Joh Avenue in Baltimore, across from what is now Violetville United Methodist Church. It’s here that I believe he is buried. The graves of his two daughters, Anna Schwartz and Edna Schwartz, have already been located there by diligent volunteers. I am hopeful his and his wife’s graves will eventually be located nearby.
The photographer, John H. Schaefer (1830-1921), was born in Hessen-Darmstadt, Germany, and belonged to the same church as the Schwartz family. He is buried in the older St. Paul’s Cemetery.
This older St. Paul’s Cemetery is located adjacent to the grounds of Druid Hill Park. It’s also known as “Martini’s St. Paul’s Cemetery,” or “St. Paul’s Cemetery Druid Hill Park,” and has been the focus of substantial restoration efforts.
The card mount on this photograph is blind embossed “J. H. Schaefer and Son,” so this must have been taken after Schaefer’s son, John William Schaefer, joined the business. The address, unfortunately, has been lost with the disintegration of the mount, but based on the appearance of the children, I’m guessing the family sat for this portrait around 1905.
The Schwartz family is posed perfectly conventionally and perfectly harmoniously: elders at the center, flanked by their two daughters, and backed by their three grown sons. It’s a photograph that speaks of family success, both professional and personal. Only Walter’s slight scowl, echoing his father’s stern stare, hints at the emotional life beneath this perfect image of middle class respectability.
Dr. Robert Lewis Annan (1831-1907) was the son of Dr. Andrew Annan and Elizabeth (Motter) Annan. He was descended from Rev. Robert Annan (1742-1819), a Presbyterian minister who came to the American colonies from Scotland before the Revolution and became an ardent patriot.
Andrew Annan came to the Emmitsburg area in 1805. The Annans were merchants, organizers of community endeavors such as the Emmitsburg Water Company, and, with the Horners, founders of the Annan & Horner Bank.
The family faded from Emmitsburg life after the scandal, prosecutions, and seizures of property stemming from the downfall of their bank in 1922.
Robert Lewis Annan attended Washington and Jefferson College near Pittsburgh, Pa., then studied medicine at the University of the City of New York, graduating with an M. D. in 1855. He returned to Emmitsburg and practiced medicine there for the rest of his life. He was married twice: first to Alice Columbia Motter, who died in 1878, and then to Hessie Birnie. They lived in a large brick house adjoining that of his brother, Isaac Annan, in the center of Emmitsburg.
Franklin F. Kuhn (b. abt. 1830, Md.) partnered with James S. Cummins (1841-1895) as Kuhn & Cummins ca. 1874-1880, according to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers1839-1900. From 1882 to 1886, Kuhn partnered with John Philip Blessing in the Baltimore firm Blessing & Kuhn–this is reflected in the 1883, 1884 and 1885 Baltimore city directories. In the 1886 Woods’ Baltimore Directory, Kuhn is absent, and the name becomes Blessing & Co., at the same address–46 N. Charles Street.
Much more is known about Cummins and Blessing than Kuhn, and as I researched this photograph, I found my interest in Franklin Kuhn overshadowing the portrait’s subject.
Kuhn worked as a photographer in Atlanta, Ga. after and perhaps during the Civil War. His name appears on 1866 tax lists and 1867 voter rolls for Atlanta, and a Franklin Kuhn, born in Maryland, took the oath of allegiance in Fulton County, Ga. in 1867. In 1870, he appears in the Federal Census in Atlanta as a photographer, married, with a daughter, Sarah E. Kuhn, born in Georgia about 1867.
I found on Flickr a set of vintage photographs taken at F. Kuhn’s Pioneer Gallery, 290 White Hall Street, Atlanta, and I think this is probably Franklin Kuhn. A search for this gallery name brings up a smattering of photographs, all in carte de visite format. Subjects are clearly dressed in 1860s styles or Civil War uniforms.
An advertisement for “Kuhn’s Photograph Gallery,” at “new” No. 19 Whitehall Street, appears in the 1870 directory for Atlanta. In 1871, he was advertising as “Kuhn & Smith,” “up stairs, 27 Whitehall street.” His name does not appear in the 1872 directory; Smith appears now as “Smith & Motes” at 27 Whitehall Street.
An 1873 Baltimore directory lists a Frank Kuhn, photographer, at 48 N. Charles, so it appears that ca. 1872-1873, he moved his family back to Baltimore, and they are in Baltimore in the 1880 federal census.
I found a record of a Franklin Kuhn who served with Company K of the 15th Michigan Infantry and, intriguingly, mustered out at Jonesboro, Georgia, about 20 miles south of Atlanta, in 1864. Could this have been Frank Kuhn the photographer?
Franklin F. Kuhn surfaces in 1866, then disappears from records after 1885. Where was he born? Who were his parents? Where was he before the Civil War? Why did he go to Atlanta? What took him back to Baltimore after 1870? Where and when did he die? I am troubled by a nagging enigma that Dr. Annan, or any number of Maryland doctors, can’t cure.
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.
Without the full story, you have to read between the lines, and this cabinet card photograph inscribed “Yours, J. B. SeBastian” offered lots of room to do just that.
The portrait, taken at the 17 W. Lexington Street studio of William Ashman (1863-1902), displays all the typical characteristics of a post-1900 card photograph: Oversized, simple black textured mount, understated advertising mark, plain background uncluttered by scenic backdrop or papier mache rocks and balustrades.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I’d found yet another graduate of the University of Maryland Dental Department.
He was listed among the 1902 graduates of the program in the commencement announcement published in the journal Dental Cosmos. I quickly found census and directory listings in Baltimore from 1903 on for a James Burnite Sebastian, dentist, born in Delaware about 1875.
He had an undistinguished career as a dentist, eventually buying a two-story, two-bay row house at 3521 Greenmount Avenue, just east of Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, in a now-faded neighborhood called Waverly. The ca. 1920 house stands today, virtually unchanged.
Dr. Sebastian served in the US Army Dental Corps Reserves. In these records, his origin was listed as Wilmington, Delaware, born 18 October 1875. His wife, Caroline, applied in 1947 for an Army-provided headstone in Lorraine Park Cemetery, Baltimore, on the basis of his service, using this date of birth.
Things became odder from there, however.
I couldn’t find anything on Dr. Sebastian earlier than 1902.
After trying a number of different possible spellings and variations, I found the surname Bastian. Thanks to the efforts of a family historian on Ancestry.com, I then found an obituary for a Delaware farmer named George M. Bastian (1832-1909) that listed a son, a Baltimore dentist named James Burnite Bastian.
But what the what??
James Burnite Bastian, or J. Burnite Bastian, was already three years old in the 1870 census–not in Wilmington, Delaware, but near a small rural peach-growing and peach-packing town named Felton, in Kent County, Delaware. He was born a good seven or eight years earlier than he’d claimed.
This same portrait, under the name James B. Bastian, appears on page 133 in the 1902 year book for the professional schools of the University of Maryland, Bones, Molars and Briefs.
Why the name change? And why fudge his age–something more usual with women of the period?
This history suggested a clue to James’ change of surname. The sketch mentioned that the family traced its roots to a vague “Count Sebastian” who had fled some sort of unspecified royal persecution in the 18th century.
They had settled in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. George M. Bastian worked as a carpenter in Tioga County, Pa., eventually saving enough to buy a small farm in Delaware, where he and his wife, Rachel (Brion) Bastian (1836-1919), raised 10 children. George and Rachel Bastian are buried in Hopkins Cemetery, Felton, Delaware.
So James had reinvented himself in the city as a younger man with the legendary family surname, telling his classmates that he was 25 when in fact he was about 32 years old at the time he graduated from dental school. His signature on the back of this portrait connects the two parts of the surname with a capital “s” and a capital “b,” suggesting the self-consciousness of the change.
The excitement I felt upon acquiring this circa 1870s view of a man standing on Jefferson Rock above Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia was not really about the location. It was about the man. The stereoview was published by William Moody Chase (1817-1901), and the man in the view is the prolific Baltimore purveyor of stereoviews himself.
I would not have known what William M. Chase looked like if it were not for the work of Ross Kelbaugh. His invaluable Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900 includes rarely seen reproductions of some of the works in his own collection.
One of Kelbaugh’s stereoviews depicts William M. Chase and his younger colleague and sometime collaborator and partner David Bachrach encamped on a stereoview photography expedition. Chase’s long beard, lanky figure, and the distinctive straw hat he wore all match those seen in this view, as well as in the view of Chase and Bachrach’s “Artist Corps” encampment at Niagara Falls.
Those familiar with Harper’s Ferry and with Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia know the shale outcropping became a place of pilgrimage because Jefferson is believed to have stood on this rock in October 1783 while looking out upon the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. In the 1780s he famously wrote that:
“the passage of the Patowmac through the Blue ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain an hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their juncture they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea” (Notes on the State of Virginia, p. 27).
The eye was then drawn, says Jefferson, eastward down the Potomac toward the lovely and fertile lands around Frederick, Maryland:
“The distant finishing which Nature has given to the picture is of a very different character. . . . It is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountain being cloven asunder, she presents to the eye, through the cleft a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around, to pass through the breach and participate of the calm below” (Notes, pp. 27-28).
“The country itself,” says Regis, “needed to be written into existence,” and the Notes, she argues, were among a small but influential group of such fundamentally creative early American prose works (Describing, p. 3).
Jefferson described the view in terms that an educated 18th century gentleman would understand: America was a worthy location for the rebirth of republicanism because it fulfilled the highest aesthetic standards of the era.
The view was sublime and beautiful, full of both the wildest and noblest scenery, but also of useful rivers, abundant natural resources and broad, fertile lands ready for the plow.
Jefferson’s artful eye and pen composed the view into a land that had all that was required for the establishment of a new society grounded in the best traditions of the old world–a society that would be egalitarian, educated, prosperous and self-governing. Together, says Regis, texts such as these constituted “the description of a ground on which [republican] politics could hold sway” (Describing, p. 4).
With the spread of railroads and middle class prosperity, the shale rock formation that Jefferson is believed to have stood upon became an early tourist attraction. The depredations of weather and visitors necessitated stabilization, and between 1855 and 1860 the uppermost slab of the formation was placed on four stone pillars (“Thomas Jefferson at Harpers Ferry,” National Park Service).
After the Civil War, Jefferson Rock became subsumed into a larger tourism that included pilgrimages to “John Brown’s Fort” and wealthy visitors escaping the heat of the Washington, DC summer to enjoy the mountains, walks and scenery around the town (Paul A. Schackel, Archaeeology and Created Memory: Public History in a National Park, New York: Klewer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2000, pp. 66-68).
Stereoviews of John Brown’s “Fort,” the ruins of the government armory, and other Harper’s Ferry sites made famous by the war joined views of Jefferson Rock in appealing to middle class hunger to see the places that made America a nation.
In standing where Jefferson stood, seeing what Jefferson made visible, William Chase took part in Jefferson’s descriptive creation of the nation. Mass reproduction of Chase’s views enabled Americans in all walks of life, north and south, to do the same in a time when the nation sorely needed to recall a common vision of itself.
This cabinet card portrait, inscribed “Mrs. Onderdonk,” was taken at Richard Walzl’s (1843-1899) Baltimore studio, located at 46 N. Charles Street from 1873 to 1881 (Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900).
The cherub and camera motif on the reverse was popular on studio photograph advertising ca. 1866-1874.
Mrs. Onderdonk wears a large artificial hairpiece, a fashion of the 1850s that persisted through the 1870s. The hairpiece, made of human hair, is worn as a braided coronet with two long “lovelocks.”
I was able to confirm the identify of the sitter by comparing the portrait to two group photographs in which she appears, taken at the Saint James School near Hagerstown, an institution with which she was closely associated for 47 years.
Mrs. Mary Onderdonk, born Mary Elizabeth Latrobe, was christened at Christ Episcopal Church, Chase and St. Paul streets, Baltimore, on 15 March 1837.
Born in Salem, New Jersey, she was the second of five children and the first daughter of civil engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe Jr. (1806-1878) and Maria Eleanor “Ellen” Hazlehurst Latrobe (1807-1872).
In 1868 or 1869, she married a widowed teacher with two teen-aged sons, Henry Onderdonk (1822-1895). Onderdonk, formerly head of the Maryland Agricultural College, was about to take on the rebuilding, both literal and figurative, of the College of Saint James near Hagerstown, in Washington County, Maryland.
Mary would be his help-meet.
Founded by the Episcopal Church in 1842 as Saint James Hall on part of the General Samuel Ringgold estate, Fountain Rock, the school had been abandoned in 1864, after General Jubal Early’s forces occupied the grounds and some of the buildings and arrested the school’s head, Dr. Kerfoot.
Onderdonk reopened the old college as a boys’ preparatory institution, and through his and Mary’s unrelenting labors, and that of their son Adrian, today it endures as the thriving Saint James School.
In June 1885, the Hagerstown Herald and Torchlight reported on Onderdonk’s commencement address, in which he recalled the early days after their arrival, when “the buildings [were] so ruined and dilapiated as to be uninhabitable.”
The new Mrs. Onderdonk took on the task of helping her husband revive and run the school and care for the boys. The nearest town, Williamsport, was five miles away, and the school was almost nine miles from Hagerstown. With little financial support forthcoming from the school’s trustees, the Onderdonks used $5,000 of their own money on the effort.
For a woman brought up in a well-to-do household in Baltimore, rebuilding must have meant hard physical labor in less-than-ideal conditions, including everything from cooking, cleaning, laundry and sewing to nursing sick students.
By 1877, when the Illustrated Atlas of Washington County was published, the school was well established as an excellent educational institution, and worthy of illustration as one of the highlights of the area.
Mary’s hard work, determination and organizational skills were surely an unacknowledged part of this success.
But her work did not stop at the edge of the school grounds. As wife of a prominent county citizen, she was expected to take part in the larger life of the county and the local Epsicopal church.
Hagerstown papers mention Mary Onderdonk as a leader of the Dorcas Society, which sewed for the poor and indigent, and as an active member of the board of the Washington County Orphans’ Home.
She bore her husband two sons, Latrobe Onderdonk (1872-1883), and Adrian Holmes Onderdonk (1877-1956), who became the revered long-time headmaster of the school in 1903.
Omitting mention of Mary’s work as her husband’s partner in the school’s revival, her obituary in the Hagerstown Daily Mail notes the stock feminine qualities associated with the good Victorian woman: her regular attendance at chapel, her “noble and upright character” and “lovable and kindly disposition.”
Mary (1836-1916 and Henry Onderdonk (1822-1895) are buried in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery. Each year the school honors a student–and remembers Mary Onderdonk–with the Mary Latrobe Onderdonk Memorial Prize for Sound School Citizenship.
Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography, William C. Darrah (Gettysburg, Pa.: W.C. Darrah, 1981)
Saint James School: One Hundred Twenty-Fifth Anniversary (Hagerstown: Saint James School, 1967)
History of Western Maryland, vol. 1, John Thomas Scharf (Philadelphia, Pa.: L. H. Everts, 1882)
Dressed for the Photographer, Joan Severa (Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1995)
Part of the excitement and frustration of collecting vintage photographs lies in unraveling puzzles from the past. By now I’ve had some experience tracking down long-ago graduates of Baltimore medical and dental programs, and even a group of nurses from Western Maryland Hospital, but Frances P. Toulmin was my first Baltimore nurse.
Despite the presence of an inscription, several challenges presented themselves. One was the unusual last name. At first I looked for Tomlinson, but the ones I found didn’t fit the 1890s time frame of the cabinet card style. And what did the initials “J. H. H. ’92” mean?
Finally a brainstorm: Johns Hopkins Hospital 1892. I quickly found a June 1892 Baltimore Sun account of the commencement ceremonies for the second graduating class of trained nurses from the newly established Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing.
Among the graduates: Frances, or “Fannie,” Priestley Toulmin.
The two-year course of study had just been established at the new Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1889. Eighteen graduated in 1891, and Frances was among the second group of 21 to complete the curriculum successfully.
Success was by no means a given. The principle of the program was that “the School should form an organic part of the hospital and be fully identified with its work” (Ethel Johns and Blanche Pfefferkorn, The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, 1889-1949, Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1954, p. 59).
Less a course of study than a trial by fire, the program immediately put the untrained young women to work on the often crowded wards. The students worked 12-hour shifts, both day and night, caring for patients with everything from typhoid to mania.
In addition, the students attended lectures and demonstrations given by the program’s head, Isabel Hampton, its cooking instructor Mary A. Boland, and its pioneering doctors, including William Osler, Henry M. Hurd, William Welch, and Howard A. Kelly.
The young women went on Dr. Osler’s rounds along with the young assistant physicians. They prepared for district nursing and private nursing as well as for working in hospital wards and surgical theaters. And they sewed their own uniforms: blue dress and cuffs, white apron, cap, and collar.
The Hopkins nursing program was modeled on the work of Florence Nightingale in Europe, particularly St. Thomas’s hospital in London, and the Bellevue Hospital training school in New York.
Ethel Johns and Blanche Pfefferkorn recount Dr. Billings’ recommendations for the Hopkins program’s organization. A picture arises of the nurse as a sort of magical Mary Poppins-like figure:
” ‘ Miss Nightingale’s views as to female nurses . . . are well known. By this school it is held that female nurses should be as far as possible, refined, educated women, fitted to move in good society–who should be thoroughly trained in everything pertaining to the management of the sick–from the washing of bedpans to the regulation of temperature and ventilation and the noting of symptoms for the physician–who should be good cooks and seamstresses–gentlewomen also, thoroughly kind-hearted, yet with firmness and decision, and power of control of unruly patients. They should know as much as the surgeon about the dressing of wounds and as much as the physician about the meaning of symptoms–yet they must have no tendency to become medical women or to set up their own opinions in practice. They must, of course, be of unspotted morals and chastity.’ “(Nursing, p. 13)
Although the work was so unrelenting that it broke some women’s health, according to the accounts of some early graduates, the nurses were happy. Their specially-built quarters were comfortable, airy and commodious, the food was simple but nourishing, and they were encouraged, as time allowed, to take advantage of the cultural opportunities of the city.
Fannie Toulmin’s pride and happiness shine clearly in her portrait, which may have been taken as a memento of graduation.
But of her previous life and subsequent career, little is known. The daughter of Alabaman US Army Captain Harry Toulmin (1819-1870) and Frances Priestley Biddle (1829-1916), Fannie Toulmin grew up in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, and, possibly, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where her brothers Priestley and Harry attended Lehigh University–Priestley, to become a mining engineer, and Harry, to prepare to enter the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school.
On her father’s side she was descended from the great early federal judge Harry Toulmin (1766-1823), and on her mother’s from the scientist and Unitarian pioneer Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) and from attorney James Biddle (1731-1797), an early Philadelphia settler who served with the Continental Army during the Revolution.
The Priestley and Toulmin families were not unknown to each other. Like Priestley, Judge Harry Toulmin was an early Unitarian leader, and had been a minister in England. Judge Toulmin’s sister, Lucinda Toulmin, was the second wife of Frances’ maternal great-grandfather, Joseph Priestley’s eldest son (G. H. Toulmin, A Catalogue of Toulmins, vol. 1, 1996, pp. 126-127).
Frances entered the Hopkins nursing program while her brother Harry was serving there as an intern, and one of her two letters of reference for the nursing program was written by Harry. But I have been able to find little about whether, or where, she worked as a nurse after completing her training.
While living in Baltimore, she attended First Unitarian Church, also known as Christ Church, Charles and Franklin streets; its pastor, Charles R. Weld, wrote Fannie’s second letter of reference for the nursing program. Rev. Weld describes her as “a teacher in one of my schools & highly esteemed for her efficiency, as well as for the graces of a Christian character.”
She does not reappear in any records I’ve found until 1910. In the 1910 census, she was listed, without employment, in the household of her now-married and well-established brother Harry in Haverford, Pa.
Harry, an avid golfer who ran track and played tennis at Lehigh University, had married Bertha Louise Townsend, the tennis champion daughter of well-to-do Philadelphia attorney Henry Clay Townsend. H.C. Townsend was founding counsel to the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company; Harry Toulmin rose to become Penn Mutual’s Resident Medical Director as well as a company vice-president.
While Harry and Bertha and their daughters, Marian and Frances, featured often in the Philadelphia society pages, and participated enthusiastically in Haverford’s exclusive Merion Cricket Club,Frances P. Toulmin appears but once in the Philadelphia Inquirer as a chaperone at an event for her neices.
In 1920, Frances was living on her own in an apartment on Montgomery Avenue in Bryn Mawr, near the college. An item in the nursing program’s alumnae association bulletin for 1925 says that she “has had to discontinue nursing. She is living at ‘Montgomery Inn’ Bryn Mawr, and when needed, ‘chaperoning’ at one of the Bryn Mawr Schools” (Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumnae Magazine, v. 24, n. 1, Feburary 1925). She died on the 25th of April 1928.
Another copy of this photograph is archived at the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, where Miss Toulmin’s portrait is part of a collection documenting the history of the JHU School of Nursing. Thanks to Marjorie W. Kehoe, Accessioning and Reference Archivist at the Chesney Archives, for her enthusiastic assistance with this research, including assistance in obtaining a copy of Miss Toulmin’s nursing school application.
A young Dr. Charles Thomas Harper (1872-1915) had his photograph taken at the studio of William Ashman, whose establishment was located at 17 W. Lexington Street ca. 1889-1904 (Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900).
Harper might have made a present of his cabinet card portrait to a friend while studying medicine in Baltimore.
After a period of pre-med study at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, Harper earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1894. He married Jessie Glenora Zimmerman in 1895, and they remained in Baltimore for a number of years.
He was “Demonstrator of Anatomy at the Woman’s Medical College in 1895, and also during that year Assistant Demonstrator of Histology at Baltimore Medical College. In 1896 he was Chief of Clinics of Surgery at Baltimore University, and in 1897 lecturer on Minor Surgery and Bandages at Baltimore University” (Henry E. Shepherd, History of Baltimore, Maryland, p. 91).
By 1900, Harper and his wife and daughter Jessie returned to Wilmington, North Carolina. Dr. Harper’s family was prominent and prosperous. His father, Capt. James Thomas Harper, ran a tugboat service, was a partner in the Boney & Harper Milling Company and proprietor of the Wilmington Steam Laundry.
But it was at 1 Church Street, a sprawling 1828 house backing onto the Cape Fear River, that Charles Harper grew up.
Dr. Harper’s granddaughter, Anne Newbold Perkins, remembered the house, which remained in the family from 1882 to 1992, as a center of activity for the neighborhood children, “a big old house . . . a wonderful house, fourteen rooms- no central heat. So you were either freezing or burning up. And we just had a good time there” (2006 oral history of Anne Newbold Perkins, William Madison Randall Library, University of North Carolina Wilmington).
Charles and his family moved back into the big Harper home with his parents and sisters, Mary and Anna.
Once settled back in Wilmington, Dr. Harper took a leading role in matters of municipal health as well as county and state medical affairs. He served as port physican and superintendent of health for the City of Wilmington and was a member of the North Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners.
In 1910 Harper founded a small sanitorium, in a Second Empire-style building at Front and Castle streets, where, ironically, he died of complications from an appendectomy in 1915.
After his death, the Association of Seaboard, Airline and Railway Surgeons published a memorial to Dr. Harper in the International Journal of Surgery:
“Dr. Harper was a lovable and strong man, and was always willing to bear the infirmities of the weak and lowly. His genial personality and bright disposition endeared him to all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance . . . Among the profession he was universally popular” (International Journal of Surgery, v. 28, 1915).
Charles T. Harper and his wife Jessie are buried in Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina, along with their daughter, Jessie Harper Newbold.
Ashman’s operator used the very popular vignette style, which burned out the background so that the figure seems to float. Curiously, Harper’s bow tie remains the most vivid thing in the photo–the tie seems so real you can almost imagine reaching in and touching its shiny folds.