Charles P. Lusby, Tintype Photogapher

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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.

Dr. Oleriannus Alvin Cover in Baltimore

This cabinet card portrait of Iowa physician Oleriannus Alvin Cover was likely taken ca. 1893, while Cover was attending the Baltimore Medical College, from which he graduated that year.

A biographical sketch tells us that after taking an MD from Baltimore Medical College, Cover  went to Philadelphia for further study at Jefferson Medical College, so his sojourn in Baltimore was probably relatively brief.

The man with the very unusual name of Oleriannus was born in Union County, Illinois in 1862 to Frederick County, Maryland-born farmer and devout Methodist Abraham Cover and Sophia Miller Cover.

Cover came to the medical profession relatively late in life. After graduating from Southern Illinois Normal School, he taught school and served as a principal at Alto Pass High School in southern Illinois for ten years.

He began studying medicine in 1891, at the Keokuk College of Physicians and Surgeons. After several apprenticeships and MD degrees from both Baltimore Medical College and Jefferson Medical College, Cover settled down to practice in Seymour, Iowa, a small coal town in Wayne County that owed its existence primarily to its proximity to the railroad.

Cover participated enthusiastically in the political and social life of the town: He was an active Mason, Odd Fellow, and a fervent Republican.

Dr. Cover married Jessie Llewellyn of Seymour in 1898 and they had a son, William Llewellyn Cover, in 1908.  Dr. Cover died in a train accident in Rock Island, Illinois in 1916, and was buried in South Lawn Cemetery, Seymour.

After Dr. Cover’s death, Jesse and their son William moved to Los Angeles, to live with Jessie’s brother. William died in San Bernardino, California in 1993.

I suspect that the “Rogers” in this studio partnership was Albert L. Rogers, who briefly occupied the same studio location, 112 N. Charles Street, under his own name, A. L. Rogers, ca. 1891.

“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.

Another View of ” ‘Shucking’ Oysters”

One of the most common Baltimore stereoviews I’ve seen, aside from the monuments, is Keystone View Company’s ” ‘Shucking’ Oysters, Oyster House, Baltimore, Md.”

Views like this one were meant both to entertain and inform the armchair tourist. The text on the back of the view offers educational information about the oyster industry in America: how oysters are caught and processed, and the place of the oyster harvest in American fish and seafood production.

This view is a well-known depiction of one kind of working class women’s labor in Baltimore in the early years of the 20th century. While the anonymous writer dismisses shucking as consisting of  “merely of removing the shells,” Paula J. Johnson’s study of work at an oyster house on the Patuxent shows that “of all the tasks involved in the entire oyster house work activity, shucking was the only one requiring  mastery of a complex of technical skills and know-how.”

Yet,  as Johnson documents in “Sloppy Work for Women: Shucking Oysters on the Patuxent,” “historically, shucking oysters was considered a menial, dirty job, typically relegated to the poorest people. In Maryland, this meant immigrants, women, blacks and children” (38).

After 1865, thousands of white women, most of foreign birth, worked as shuckers in Baltimore. As was typical in an oyster house, the women stand in wooden stalls, in a cold, damp building, probably for 12 hours a day, six days a week, for a dollar or two a day, depending on one’s speed and skill.

These women wear rubber aprons, but are using their bare hands to slice open the wet, muddy shells. In order to bring the meat out intact, and thus get the best money, one had to learn how to slice through the muscles of the oyster without cutting the meat.

Once removed, the meats were placed in separate buckets according to size. Empty shells are tossed at their feet for removal. Shuckers brought full buckets to a counter between shucking and packing rooms for rinsing, grading and weighing. Tallies were kept on a chalk board.

Because each oyster is unique, shucking resisted mechanization. No inventor was ever successful in designing a machine that could do what the human shucker could do.

Johnson’s essay can be found in the 1988 volume for which she served as editor: Working the Water: The Commercial Fisheries of Maryland’s Patuxent River (Charlottesville: Calvert Marine Museum and the University Press of Virginia Press).

In addition to several essays, this invaluable book contains photographs of 148 implements and other kinds of equipment used in the Patuxent fisheries, from knives to water craft, as well as numerous images of watermen and others in the industry at work.