Charles P. Lusby, Tintype Photogapher

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Charles P. Lusby operated a photography studio at 127 West Baltimore Street from 1872 to 1875. (The block between South and Calvert streets became East Baltimore Street after street renumbering in 1887.)

This perfectly conventional tintype, composed in the style of cartes de visite of the 1870s–fake pillar, now with one of the new painted backgrounds–reflects the vast output of photographs during the Civil War and post-bellum period.

Tintypes (actually black or chocolate brown japanned iron), invented in the U.S. in the 1850s,  became popular during the Civil War as a more durable and cheaper alternative to the ambrotype and card photograph. Special cameras with from four to 36 apertures made it possible to make multiple exposures simultaneously on a single plate.

“The card photograph,” says photography historian Robert Taft, “was the favorite form of photograph for the soldier boy to leave with his family when he departed for camp.”

But “the boy in camp found that these tintypes would stand the vicissitudes of the army mail service far better than card photographs or ambrotypes” (Taft, Photography and the American Scene, 159).

After the war, says Taft, “A class of operators grew up who developed galleries which made the tintype their specialty” (163).

Born near Chesetertown, Kent County in 1843 to farmer Charles Thomas Lusby and Mary Araminta Boyer Lusby, Charles Lusby  killed himself in the home of his brother-in-law, S. Rowe Burnett,  in May 1889.

The article published in the SUN says that although successful in his business, Lusby had been sick and depressed. He left a wife and three children.

Lusby first came to my attention as part of my research into the Summers-Gaither family album. The album includes a portrait of Allen Lusby. Although several Lusbys appear in the Summers-Gaither family tree, it’s not yet clear how the Lusbys are connected to them.

“Mr. Fugle, Mother’s Employer”

James Fugle (1836-1910), described in the 1880 Federal census of Baltimore as a “keeper of ladies emporium,” appears in Baltimorean Elizabeth Gaither Summers‘ photo album as “mother’s employer.”

But which mother? Elizabeth worked as a sales lady before her marriage. Her mother-in-law, Anna Louise Ross Summers, who lived with Elizabeth and Charles D. Summers, worked as a seamstress and dressmaker.

James and his brother Frederick Fugle (b. abt. 1845) were English; James emigrated in 1867 and Frederick three years later. James may have been the “James Fuggle,” “draper’s assistant,” born in Sevenoaks, Kent, listed in the 1851 and 1861 censuses of England. They may have been the sons of Sevenoaks tailor Samuel Fuggle (b abt. 1800). The houses where they lived, “Taylor’s Cottages,” on 55 Akehurst Lane, Sevenoaks, are still in existence.

James’ Baltimore concern on North Charles Street (later West Townsend Street) was known as Fugle & Co. Dry Goods or just James Fugle & Co. An 1890 directory of Baltimore lists their merchandise as “cloaks, furs, costumes, etc.”

Advertisements from the 1870s and 1880s call for skilled “cloakmakers”–seamstresses–and cloth-cutters to work in their shop, so they were not only selling but producing ladies’ clothing.

Talking up Baltimore goods to the Baltimore SUN in December 1889, Fugle is decidedly a “go-er,” as they might once have said: a self-confident merchant and manufacturer surveying his sales floor with satisfaction as the holiday shopping season begins:

“When you see a man’s clerks on the jump, as you see them here, and you hear him complain about dull times put him down as a chronic kicker, whose life is a burden to him. . . . Do you know that Baltimore is the cheapest market in the United States for fine goods? Now, in the matter of riding habits, where everything must be of the best, we can sell them just as good in every particular, as Redfarn of New York, and at one-half of his prices.”

The Fugles became wealthy enough to travel to Europe, and to keep a  summer home in the Waverly area of Baltimore County.

James Fugle died at his Arlington, New Jersey home of pneumonia in February 1910, and is buried in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery.

He and his wife, Laura Walsh Fugle, had three children: Hellen (“Nellie;” later Mrs. George D. Thompson); Frederick Walsh Fugle, who settled in Montclair, New Jersey, married Nellie LaSalle Canton, daughter of sculptor John LaSalle, and worked in a paper and twine business; and Edyth, who married Canadian furrier George K. Campbell and settled in Kearny, New Jersey.

James and his brother  Fred C. Fugle apparently parted ways, and Frederick did not share in the prosperity of his elder brother. He remained in Baltimore, employed in a series of sales jobs.

Fugle thought well enough of “mother” to give her a portrait of himself. It’s a classic Bachrach portrait of the early 20th century: a dignified head and shoulders against a tasteful neutral background, on the new larger mount–cut down, no doubt to fit in the album.

Portrait of Charles D. Summers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Charles D. Summers (1870-1948), husband of Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers, was the son of Talbot County furniture-maker and carpenter Samuel A. Summers (b. abt. 1832, Md.) and Anna Louise Ross Summers (b. abt.1850, Md.).

Charles, one of ten siblings raised in the village of Trappe, became a house carpenter. Sometime between 1880 and 1900, he moved to Baltimore, along with his mother, his younger brother Joseph Eugene Summers,  an aunt, possibly his grandmother Ellen Bullen Ross‘ sister, Anna L. Bullen, and a cousin, Mabel G. Ross.

By 1900, they were settled at 1936 West Lafayette Avenue, and Charles had found steady employment as a house carpenter. The block is a street of tidy two-story, two-bay row houses with bow windows, in an area, north of Edmondson Avenue and west of Harlem Park and Lafayette Square, that was undergoing rapid residential development at the turn of the century.

Elizabeth Gaither’s father, Vachel H. Gaither, was also a house carpenter, so perhaps Elizabeth met her future husband through their connection with the building trades.

Elizabeth and Charles had one daughter, Margaret Ross Summers (b. abt. 1905, Baltimore, Md.).

According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, London Studio, where Charles Summers had his portrait taken, was located at 5 W. Lexington Street ca. 1894-1895. That would make Charles about 25 at the time of the photograph.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).

Portrait of Allen Lusby

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This cabinet card portrait, identified as Allen Lusby, was found in an album belonging to Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers of Baltimore.

It’s not clear how Allen Lusby was related to the Gaither and Summers families. The name Lusby was definitely part of the family tree. In 1818, a Henrietta Lusby (1800-1873) married Elizabeth Gaither Summers’ grandfather, John Marriott Gaither (1790-1850) in Anne Arundel County.

But Henrietta Lusby’s parentage is unknown, and I haven’t established a link between Henrietta and Alllen.

An Allen J. Lusby, born April 1879 in Maryland, could be our man. This Allen Lusby’s father, Robert Lusby, and uncle, Charles P. Lusby were, coincidentally, photographers.  In 1880, Charles and Robert and their families lived together at 91 West Baltimore Street, presumably operating a studio together. Among their neighbors were photographers Ferdinand Wagner (63 West Baltimore Street) and David J. Wilkes (125 West Baltimore Street).

Allen J. Lusby worked as a printer, mostly in Philadelphia, where he could possibly have become acquainted with Elizabeth Gaither Summers’ cousin Albert Gaither, son of Anne Arundel County farmer Evan Lusby Gaither (b. abt. 1830, Maryland).

The portrait, a vignetted bust, is lit from the side to bring out the strong line of Lusby’s nose. Behind the walrus mustache–popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries–Lusby’s face appears smooth, round and soft. He might have been quite a young man at the time of the photo.

F. M. Zuller is listed in Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers as having operated a studio in Annapolis 1891-1892.

A note in The St. Louis and Canadian Photographer for June 1900 reports that F. M. Zuller, “formerly photographer in the Naval Academy of Annapolis,” died at his farm in Chesterfield, outside Annapolis, on April 15th of that year. His body was taken to his place of birth, Richfield Springs, New York, for burial.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro, johnscollectibles@att.net.

Cora B. and Albert R. Gaither

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Portraits of this Philadelphia married couple were found in an album belonging to Mrs. Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers of Baltimore.

Albert R. Gatiher (b. September 1873, Anne Arundel Co., Md.), was Mrs. Summers’ nephew: The son of her uncle Evan Lusby Gaither and Anna Maria Robinson Gaither.

Written on the back of Albert’s photo are the words “For Uncle Benny.” Uncle Benny may have been his father’s bachelor brother Benjamin Gaither (b. 1837, Anne Arundel County, Md.), who lived in a modest two-story, two-bay row house on Fayette Street in Baltimore.

Albert married his Virginia-born wife Cora about 1895 in Pennsylvania. She wears the popular leg o’mutton sleeve style of the mid-1890s, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to pinpoint the date of her dress with any accuracy. The white blind-embossed surface of the mount suggests a mid- to late-1890s date as well.

Cora and Albert, a carpenter at a trolley-car works, had one child, Howard Raymond Gaither (b. 1895, Pa.). Howard worked for the Boston-based John Hancock Life Insurance Company in Upper Darby, Chester County, Philadelphia, Pa.). Howard’s home on Green Valley Road, near the McCall Golf and Country Club, remains an area of pleasant, well-kept semi-detached ca. 1939 homes.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).

From Walzl’s Imperial Portrait Studio: William Henry Gaither

This cabinet card photograph of a young William Henry Gaither (1881-1920) is another from an album owned by Baltimorean Mrs. Elizabeth Gaither Summers.

Identified as “Will Gaither,” this image was probably taken at one of Richard Walzl’s studios about 1889–the only year Walzl used this combination of addresses on his photographs. The use of rustic props and backgrounds marks the height of 1880s style for studio portraits. Beveled, gilt-edged mounts were just beginning to be introduced.  Will is dressed in a tweed Norfolk suit, a popular style for boys from the 1860s on.

Will Gaither was likely Elizabeth Gaither’s nephew, the son of her brother John W. Gaither. John, a steamboat pilot and lighthouse-keeper, married Miss Marie Horner about 1880, and Will was their first-born of three.

William worked as a stevedore on the docks, but suffered from epileptic seizures. Perhaps epilepsy caused his death at the age of 39.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).

Miss Mary H. Gaither

This cabinet card photograph of Mary H. Gaither (b. abt. 1856, Anne Arundel Co., Md.) was taken by Baltimore photographer Barnett McFee Clinedinst, Sr. The photo was found in an album owned by Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers, and may depict Mrs. Summers’ sister Mary.

Their parents were carpenter Vachel H. Gaither (b. 1824, Anne Arundel Co., Md.), descendant of a line of Gaithers going back to before the American Revolution, and Margaret E. Robinson (b. abt. 1830, Anne Arundel Co., Md.).

Dating this photograph is difficult. Mary Gaither looks to be no more than in her mid-20s, at most. Clinedinst opened a studio in Balitmore in 1880 and operated at various locations until the mid-1890s, when he moved to Washington, DC. However, none of the studio locations documented in newspaper ads or in city directories was 48 and 50 N. Charles Street. James Cummins operated at 48 N. Charles for a number of years. Cummins occupied both  48 and 50 N. Charles in 1884, about the right time for this photo.

The unraveling of this riddle will have to wait for additional evidence.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).

Margaret “Rita” Robinson Gaither?

This cabinet card photograph is another  image from an album owned by Baltimorean Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers that was recently broken up and  sold piecemeal.

The photo was identified as Rita Gaither.

Rita was a common diminuitve for Margaret and Marguerite. Based on my research into the Gaither and Summers families (available to registered users on ancestry.com) I believe this is Elizabeth’s mother, Margaret E. Robinson Gaither, born about 1830 in Anne Arundel County to William Robinson and Mary Ann Eleanor Turton Robinson.

It may be a case of two sisters marrying two brothers. Margaret married Anne Arundel County carpenter Vachel H. Gaither, and Margaret’s sister Anna Maria Robinson married Vachel’s brother, farmer Evan Gaither. While Evan and Ann remained in Anne Arundel County, Vachel migrated to Baltimore, probably to take advantage of the post-bellum building boom there.

The Gaither name goes back to the early days of Anne Arundel County. Evan and Vachel were sons of John Marriott Gaither (1790-1850) and Henreitta Lusby Gaither (1800-1873). Evan and Vachel’s grandfather, Vachel Gaither (1750-1804) served as a captain in the Severn Battalion of the Maryland Militia during the American Revolution.

David J. Wilkes kept a photography studio at 125 W.  Baltimore Street in Baltimore from about 1873 to 1885 (Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900).

Since Margaret Gaither does not appear in the family after the 1870 census, my guess is that she died between 1870 and 1880, a chronology  congruent with the dates of Wilkes’ studio location.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).

Keeping the Family Together: Elizabeth Gaither Summers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Old photograph albums are continually being sold, their contents removed and re-sold piecemeal. An album owned by Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers (b. abt. 1866), wife of Baltimore carpenter Charles D. Summers (b. abt. 1870), recently met the same fate.

When a number of identified cabinet card photographs came up for auction on the web recently, I felt a strong desire to keep as many of them together as possible. I began to build a Summers-Gaither family tree (available to registered members on ancestry.com), and to add portraits there.

With the tree and clues from the i.d.’d photos, I’m attempting to reconstruct something of the family’s history.

Elizabeth was the daughter of carpenter Vachel H. Gaither (b. 1824, Anne Arundel Co., Md.) and Margaret Robinson Gaither (b. abt. 1830, Md.).

The Gaithers go back to the very beginning of Anne Arundel County; Vachel’s grandfather and namesake was a Captain in the Severn Battalion of the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Intriguingly, it’s the building trade that links the Summers and the Gaithers in Baltimore. Young Vachel brought his family to Baltimore after the Civil War, probably to take advantage of building work as the city boomed.

The Summers family probably came to Baltimore for much the same reasons. Charles’ father, Samuel A. Summers (b. abt. 1832) had been a furniture-maker in Trappe, in south Talbot County.

Son Charles D. Summers took up the house carpentry trade and came to Baltimore with his mother, Anna Louise Ross Summers (b. abt. 1850), daughter of Trappe shoemaker Charles H. Ross and Ellen M. Bullen; probably Samuel’s second wife), and siblings sometime between 1880 and 1900.

The studio of photographer James S. Cummins has been documented at 106 N. Charles Street in Baltimore 1888-1890 and 1893-1899 (Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900). Under this assumption, the oldest that Elizabeth Gaither Summers could be in this cabinet card photograph would be about 39 years of age.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).