Funderburk by Ellerbrock

This confident young man, identified on the reverse of this photograph as Dr. Ernest Funderburk, DDS, sat for his portrait at the Baltimore studio of Herman Ellerbrock (b. abt. 1869, Maryland).

Ellerbrock, son of German-born baker August Ellerbrock, appears listed as a photographer in Baltimore business directories of circa 1890, with the address 215 N. Patterson Park Avenue. A 1904 Baltimore SUN advertisement gives his business address as 109 West Lexington Street, the nearly unreadable address at bottom right.

Difficult to make out below the name “Ellerbrock” in the lower right-hand corner are the words “formerly with Ashman.” This tells me Ellerbrock established his bona fides as an independent “operator” by referencing his association with his former employer, the well-known Baltimore  studio photographer William Ashman.

Ellerbrock’s young subject may have been James Ernest Funderburk (1885-1972), who graduated from the University of Maryland Dental Department in 1908 (today’s UMD School of Dentistry).

Born in Cheraw, Chesterfield County, South Carolina to farmer  James Thomas Funderburk (1847-1934) and Mary Welsh or Welch (1852-1907), J. Ernest Funderburk, as he is sometimes identified, did post-graduate work in oral surgery and anesthesiology before beginning private practice.

He returned home to Chesterfield County, South Carolina to practice dental surgery, and married Mary Eliza Sellers. After her death, he married Effie Wall, and between his two wives, he had ten children, eight of whom survived to adulthood.

An elder and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of Cheraw, South Carolina, he is buried in Old St. Davids Episcopal Church Cemetery, Cheraw.

His youngest son, Ervin W. Funderburk, followed him into the dental profession and may still be practicing in Cheraw.

According to the research of an anonymous family historian and of Shirley Burks Wells, Dr. Funderburk’s grandfather, also named James, was born in South Carolina in 1809, and the family’s roots in Chesterfield County and Lancaster County, South Carolina, trace back to the pre-Revolutionary era.

A large memorial erected in the cemetery of Spring Hill Baptist Church in Lancaster County traces the family’s roots back to German settler Hans Devauld Funderburk (1724-1818).

Two aspects of this portrait mark it as transitional. While Dr. Funderburk leans against a bit of papier mache balustrade, a typical 1880s studio prop, the card mount is oversized and has a fine texture meant to mimic linen. Ellerbrock chose an understated blind embossed advertising mark, all more typical of early 1900s studio practice.

Five Medical Sons of the Southland

This cabinet card photograph by Blessing & Co. (John P. Blessing and Henry Fenge)  is autographed by five young men who all turned out to be graduates of the Baltimore College of Physicians and Surgeons, class of 1888.

Perhaps they had their portrait taken as a parting remembrance of their time together.
All five are mentioned in a Baltimore Sun article of 16 March 1888 about the school’s commencement ceremonies at Ford’s Opera House in Baltimore: William Rish Lowman from South Carolina; Harris Miller Branham and Peyton H. Keaton from Georgia. George E. Weber and W. W. Brown are mentioned as special prize-winners in the “graded course,” but their state of origin isn’t given.

For graduating second in his graduating class, Harris Miller Branham (1862-1938) was awarded the Brown Memorial Prize and a year’s residency at Baltimore City Hospital (Peabody College Alumni Directory).

He had come to Baltimore to study medicine after graduating from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee and teaching for several years.

His parents were Eatonton, Georgia natives Mary Helen Matthews and  Isham Harris Branham (1848-1906), a wealthy Georgia merchant and attorney who attended Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, and  served in the Confederate armed forces during the Civil War.

Young Harris Branham grew up in Fort Valley, Houston County, Georgia, but when he settled down to practice medicine, it was in Brunswick, in Glynn County, Georgia. He and his wife Daisy Tison Branham, are buried in Palmetto Cemetery, Glynn County.

Branham’s identification of the signs of a medical phenomenon called an  “arteriovenous fistula” earned him an entry in the German version of Wikipedia. His observation was dubbed “Branham’s Sign” in his honor;  the story of his medical “eponym” is recounted in a 1985 article in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery by Will C. Sealy.

Read a 1906 biographical sketch of Dr. Branham and family in Georgia: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Institutions and Persons.

William Rish Lowman was awarded the Erich Prize for finishing third  in his graduating medical class.

Born 3 December 1866 in Lexington County, South Carolina, to Dr. Jacob Walter Lowman (1837-1905) and Lodusky (Rish) Lowman (1839-1929), William was descended, through his mother’s kin, from Jacob Long, who served in Water’s Regiment of South Carolina during the American Revolution.

Like Branham’s father, Lowman’s father served the Confederacy in the war between the states, but whether as a doctor or as a soldier is not clear.

Dr. Jacob Lowman studied medicine at the University of Georgia. After the war, he returned to his country practice. A respected and influential citizen, he was elected to the South Carolina state legislature for Lexington County.

According to family and local history researcher Jim Dugan, William Rish Lowman was a pharmacist as well as a physician, and the proprietor of Lowman Drug Store in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

Dr. Lowman served as a board member and trustee of  Orangeburg’s South Carolina State University. A men’s dormitory, Lowman Hall, was named for him in 1917. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and part of the South Carolina State College Historic District, was completely rehabbed and reopened in 2010 as University administrative offices.

William, his wife Elvira (Izlar) Lowman, and his parents are buried in Sunnyside Cemetery, Orangeburg.

Dr. Peyton Howard Keaton (1863-1927) of Dougherty County, Georgia, was the son of wealthy plantation-owner Benjamin Washington Keaton (b. abt. 1825).

B. W. Keaton had inherited a large portion of land in what became Dougherty County from his father, B. O. Keaton, who died leaving something like 21,000 acres, including dwellings, farm equipment, farm animals, and probably hundreds of slaves. The land appears to have been divided among several sons, including Benjamin W. Keaton.

After the death of B. W. Keaton sometime between 1865 and 1870, Peyton’s mother, Laura Henington or Hemington  Keaton, married a prosperous merchant of Damascus, Early County, Georgia, and Peyton grew up in the house of his stepfather, Thomas Hightower.

Peyton and his friend W. R. Lowman continued their medical studies together at the New York Post-Graduate Medical School and Hospital, and Keaton named one of his sons, Lowman Keaton, after his friend.

Keaton died of an apparent accidental overdose of chloroform on 7 December 1927, possibly in Leon County, Florida; records of the location conflict. He is buried in Damascus Cemetery, Old Damascus, Early Co., Georgia.

By all accounts, Dr. Keaton died a wealthy man: Owner of 5,000 acres of land, part-owner of  dry goods store in Blakely, Georgia and a meat market in Damascus, and vice-president of a local bank.

W. W. Brown and George E. Weber present more difficult problems, as their states of origin are not given.

W. W. Brown could have been Dr. William Wiley Brown of Limestone County, Texas, born in Texas to Mississippi transplants Wiley Pickens Brown (1837-1918) and Mary “Molly” Z. (Stephens) Brown (1843-1913).

Cathy McCormick has documented the life of Wiley P. Brown’s family in Groesbeck, Limestone County, Texas, where William Wiley Brown married May Procter (1875-1938) and settled down to practice medicine. Dr. Brown died in an auto accident in 1932 and is buried in Faulkenberry Cemetery, Groesbeck, Limestone Co., Texas, along with William’s parents.

Dr. Brown’s brother, Frank F. Brown, DDS, studied dentisty at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

According to A History of Texas and Texans, Volume Four, Wiley P. Brown was born in Tallahachie County, Mississippi and came to Limestone County in 1849 with his parents, whose roots were in South Carolina.

Dr. Brown shared with Keaton and Lowman the history of a father who served in the Confederate army. Capt. Wiley P. Brown rode with the 20th Texas Cavalry in Arkansas and Indian Territory during the Civil War.

G. E. Weber could have been George Ernest Peter Webber (1872-1930), a Kentucky-born physician who grew up in Missouri, and settled in Morland, Graham County, Kansas with his wife Cora Mather. They are buried in Morland City Cemetery, Graham County, Kansas.

Did they ever see each other again after they settled down? State medical associations routinely appointed delegates to attend the annual conferences of other state medical associations, so it is possible that they encountered each other at such gatherings.

However life separated them later, their group photograph captures a moment when these confident young southern doctors, graduating at the top of their class, formed an affectionate confederacy of five.

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.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. John C. Uhler

This cabinet card portrait of Dr. John Charles Uhler (1846-1917) is one of a number of photographic portraits of dentists from, based on the period ink identifications, what appears to be the same collection.

Born in Baltimore to merchant Erasmus B. Uhler (1818-1883) and Elizabeth (Deady) Uhler (1816-1893), John Uhler’s claim to renown is that he was among the first faculty appointed to the  School of Dentistry established at the University of Maryland in 1882.  Starting as Demonstrator of Prosthetic Dentistry, he became Associate Professor of Prosthetic Dentistry in 1900.

The new school was built upon the institutional foundation of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

Said to be the oldest school of dentistry in the world, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery  was established 1839-1840 with a charter from the State of Maryland. With this charter, the organizers created a new degree, the Doctor of Dental Surgery. Uhler obtained his degree there in 1867, and established a private practice.

Howard’s 1873 The Monumental City includes an advertisement for the college, then located at Eutaw and Lexington streets, that depicts a Second Empire-style three-story building with mansard roof.

Uhler was elected one of the first members of the Executive Committee of the Maryland State Dental Association in 1883.

In 1910, he lived with his sister-in-law and niece, Clara and May Uhler, at 938 Madison Avenue. Uhler retired from his practice and from teaching about 1913, and is buried near his parents in Greenmount Cemetery.

It is unclear whether the studio, Russell & Co., is related to that of William C. and Dora Russell. Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers dates the addresses to 1888; the presence of “new” means the photograph had to have been taken after the re-numbering of Baltimore streets that occurred in 1887.

The operator chose the popular vignette style for this head-and-shoulders portrait, burning out the background to create a soft, floating effect. Light falls from the upper left to create shadows that emphasize the Uhler’s appealing eyes, which gaze away from the camera as if he were thoughtfully contemplating the past and future of dentistry’s development.

Portrait of Cadet Lee DuVall, 1892

The period-ink notes on the back of this cabinet card photograph identify the subject as  “Lee Duvall, April 22, 1892, Laurel.”

My research turned up two individuals named Robert Lee DuVall in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, both descendants of the same Anne Arundel County family founded by immigrant Huguenot Mareen Duvall.

Mareen DuVal  or DuVall (b. 1625) arrived in Anne Arundel County in 1650. When he died in 1694, he left a vast estate of land and slaves, and 12 children by three wives. The Society of Mareen Duvall Descendants erected several historical markers in the area, including one near Davidsonville at  the site of Middle Plantation, where he died.

From Mareen Duvall’s 12 children sprung a huge clan whose members intermarried with many important Maryland and Virginia families.

Robert E. Lee DuVall was born about 1869 to wealthy plantation-owner and Confederate officer Ferdinand DuVall and Annie Linthicum Duvall. They lost their estate, centered in what is now Crofton, Anne Arundel County, after Ferdinand DuVall’s death in 1878; Robert, his mother and sister emigrated to Oregon, but he returned briefly, in 1900, to reclaim the family cemetery. Robert, a railroad employee,  died in Shoshone County, Idaho in 1943.

But the youth in this photograph seems a bit too young to have been born in 1869. A second Robert Lee Duvall, born 1875, seems a much better match.This Lee Duvall was the son of merchant Evans Duvall (1839-1911). In 1900 the family lived in Laurel, Prince George’s County.

Lee’s uniform is almost identical to that worn by the cadets of Maryland Agricultural College, precursor to the University of Maryland, College Park, just 13 miles away from Laurel. The college’s 1911 historical pamphlet lists all the graduates of the school from its opening to date.  Lee is not listed, but he may either have taken the preparatory course, or attended without graduating.

He is buried in  St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Cemetery, Crownsville, Maryland, along with is wife, Mary (Moss) Duvall, and children Mary Duvall Waterman, Hilda Adaline Duvall, and Charles Evans Duvall.

The Russell studio was operated by William C. Russell (1843-1900), and by his wife, Mrs. Dora C. (Jose) Russell ca. 1886-1904.  The photographer chose a simple, soft, neutral background, lit from above left, to allow the ornamental pattern of the trim on the youth’s uniform, bright with brass buttons, to shine.

For more about Ferdinand Duvall’s career in the Confederate Army, visit his page on this site devoted to the history of the Second Maryland Infantry, CSA. For more about Mareen Duvall and his descendants, see The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties by J. D. Warfield, published 1905; and yes, Mareen “the Emigrant,” as he is called, has a page on Wikipedia.

Malcolm Westcott Hill, St. Paul’s School, 1893

According to the notes penned on the back of the mount, this cabinet card portrait depicts Malcolm Westcott Hill, age 18, in 1893, while Hill was a student at St. Paul’s School in Garden City, Long Island, an Episcopal boarding prep school with a progressive science curriculum.

Young Hill went on to study at Johns Hopkins University and became an electrical engineer and electrical contractor. During the first World War, he attended Engineer Officer’s Training Camp at American University in Washington, DC, serving the Corps of Engineers until 1919, when he mustered out with the rank of captain.

Hill’s family had roots going back to two of the republic’s earliest conflicts: The American Revolution on his mother’s side, and on his father’s side, the War of 1812.

Malcolm’s grandfather, Thomas Gardner Hill(1793-1849), was a sergeant in Captain McKane’s Company, Maryland 27th Regiment during the War of 1812, and said to have been at the Battle of North Point. Malcolm’s father, Thomas Hill (1834-1909) was a prominent businessman of Baltimore.

Malcolm’s mother, Harriett Louise Westcott, could trace her roots back to the Revolutionary War, when her great-grandfather, Capt. Samuel Westcott (1757-1854), commanded a company in Col. Silas Newcomb’s First Battalion, of Cumberland County, New Jersey.

Malcolm’s grandfather George Burgin Westcott (1801-1887), relocated from New Jersey to Chestertown, Kent County, Maryland, where he amassed land and wealth and served as president of Kent National Bank,  president of the Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Kent County, member of the Board of Governors of Washington College, and was prominent in the Episcopal Church.

The house they occupied in Chestertown from the 1830s to 1910, now known as the Geddes Piper House, is the headquarters of the Kent County Historical Society. They owned 320 acres of  “Hinchingham,” west of Chestertown, on the bay, but there is no evidence that they lived in the historic house of the same name.

The studio where this portrait was taken was the busy and successful business owned by Harry Lenfield Perkins (b. abt. 1854, Maryland), and founded by his father, Palmer Lenfield Perkins (b. 1824, Burlington Co., New Jersey).  According to Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, 311 E. Baltimore Street (old 103 W. Baltimore) was the studio’s address 1887-1897.

Like the Hills and the Westcotts, P. L. Perkins was a zealous and involved member of the Episcopal church. The Perkins belonged to Ascension Protestant Episcopal Church, Lafayette and Arlington streets (from 1932 called St. James Episcopal Church Lafayette Square); the Hills to St. Peter’s, from 1868 located at Druid Hill Avenue and Lanvale Street in Bolton Hill (today owned by Bethel A. M. E. Church).

Perkins chose a vignette style for this bust portrait, in which the background is burned out to create a soft, almost floating effect. Malcolm’s head is tilted to the left, his eyes raised up, as if gazing into his promising future–a style now  familiar to generations of school portrait victims.

St. Paul’s School for Boys, an impressive Gothic Revival complex built ca. 1880, was dedicated to the memory of the founder of Garden City, Long Island, Alexander Turner Stewart. It was run by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. Empty for decades, preservationists have been engaged for years in a struggle to save the buildings from demolition and find new uses for it.

Soldier in a Sylvan Glade

I don’t know enough about military dress to tell if this soldier’s uniform is post- or ante-bellum, but this Bachrach & Bro. cabinet card portrait has the look of late 19th century studio style.

The not-quite-young man attempts a relaxed stance, leaning casually upon a ludicrously unrealistic papier mache – er – rock? Behind him is a misty forest backdrop.

A few things about his uniform stand out: He wears a forage cap with artillery insignia, possibly with one row of braid. Perhaps a 1st lieutenant? His sack coat is quite tight and short–not sure it’s Civil War style.

Three aspects of this portrait date it to 1875 or after: The cabinet card size, use of painted background and papier-mache props, and the name of the studio.

The cabinet-size portrait became popular just after the Civil War, as demand for the carte de visite portraits fell off.

“Several sizes were suggested among the professionals,” writes photo historian Robert Taft, “but the one which soon caught public favor was commonly credited to G. Wharton Simpson, the editor of one of the British photographic journals. It made its appearance in this country in the fall of 1866. . . . The cabinet size (for it was soon known by that name in this country) rapidly achieved popular favor” (Photography and the American Scene, p. 323).

New York theatrical portraitist Jose Mora is credited with popularizing painted backgrounds and a new variety of props in the 1870s (Taft, 350-51).

In this he was abetted by L. W. Seavey of New York. “To Seavey, in large measure” writes Taft, ” must go the credit, or the blame, for the introduction of the painted background. He rose to fame during the seventies, making a specialty of manufacturing accessories for the photographic gallery” (Taft, 352).

Soon studios all over the country were employing a wide variety of accessories, such as papier mache rocks, stumps, fences and gates, paper flowers and vines, imitation balustrades and porticos, etc.

Another feature that dates the photo is the studio’s name. David Bachrach (1845-1921), whose descendants continue as portrait photographers today, took his younger brother Moses into the business in  1875, and the studio then became known as “Bachrach & Bro.” until about 1910 (Photographic Journal of America, v. 53, n. 3, March 1916, p. 117).

Also worth noting is the composition of the card mount. The fraying at bottom right shows that the mount is made of paste board, made by pasting multiple sheets together; according to William C. Darrah,  it was introduced about 1870.

The subject’s jacket  is short and tight-fitting, , and worn buttoned to the neck, in the style that became popular after 1880.

But the crease in the trousers may be the best aid to dating this portrait: Men’s pants did not begin sporting a crease until the advent of the wooden trouser  press ca. 1890.

Church of the Holy Trinity, Oxford, Maryland

Cartes de visite and cabinet card photographs of notable buildings and places in Maryland are always exciting to find.

This cabinet card by Aloise Reiser of Easton, Maryland depicts the one of Talbot County’s better known churches, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity on South Morris Street, Oxford Neck.

According to the church’s brief historical sketch, wealthy Talbot County landowner General Tench Tilghman of Plimhimmon was the driving force behind the establishment of a third church in the parish in 1852, but the war and the population loss brought about by the closure of the Maryland Military Academy left construction to languish incomplete until the end of the nineteenth century.

The building, designed by influential ecclesiastical architect Richard Upjohn, was completed in 1894. According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, the photographer, Reiser, was working in Easton from 1894-1897, so it seems plausible to suppose this photograph was taken during that period.

An Aloise Reiser, born about 1868, Bavaria, is listed in the 1880 census of Chapel, Talbot County, Md., son of carpenter Johann Reiser; this is the only trace of the photographer I have found in vital records.

In Where Land and Water Intertwine: An Architectural History of Talbot County, Maryland, historian Christopher Weeks says the church was completed and dedicated in 1892, without “the tower called for in Upjohn’s original plan” (Weeks, 212).

The church, according to Weeks, underwent some alterations after it was rebuilt following a 1945 fire: “the entrance was relocated from the north to the west facade with a circular window above; and the chancel was enlarged.”

This view is from behind the church, looking in through the windows above the altar and chancel. The Easton Diocese of the Episcopal Church has a small modern photograph that offers a slightly fuller view of the church from a similar angle.

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.