After researching the Pryor family of Washington and Frederick counties for a playful Pryor group portrait awhile ago, I was primed to respond when I saw this cabinet card portrait come up for sale on an internet auction site.
An inscription on the back in period ink identifies the sitter as “Mr. J. Walter Pryor, Wolfsville, Fred. Co., Md., Oct. 17th, ’95”. Based on what I have learned about the Pryors, I believe this young man was James Walter Pryor (1874-1965) the son of Frederick County farmers Peter Columbus Pryor (1853-1925) and Catherine Sensenbaugh (1851-1929).
Both James Walter Pryor and the Pryor boys in my other card photograph trace their ancestors to “Reds” Elliot (1760-ca. 1810-1820) and common-law wife Hannah Prior/Pryor (1760-1839). Both are believed by family history researchers to have emigrated from the British Isles and to have had 11 children together.
Known as J. Walter Pryor, perhaps to distinguish himself from cousin James Albert Pryor (1872-1919), our subject in 1902 married Olive Idella Wolfe, daughter of a neighboring Wolfsville, Frederick County farmer and carpenter Jonathan N. Wolfe (1843-1918) and Amanda Blickenstaff (1844-1895).
The couple settled in Hagerstown, where J. Walter followed a variety of occupations. He worked as a bleacher in a knitting mill, and as a foreman for the Maryland Pressed Steel Company. In his later years he worked as a carpenter and a painting contractor. He and Olive raised their seven children first in a brick duplex at 202 Cannon Avenue and later in a wood-frame house on North Mulberry Street.
It wasn’t until 1946 that he was appointed, by a narrow margin, master of the Hagerstown City Market, a position he held until 1954. In the announcement of his retirement at the age of 80, the Hagerstown Morning Herald said that he “was considered by many the best market master the city had ever had, “doubling the number of rented market stalls” and carrying out much-needed repairs and refurbishment to the building and fixtures (Hagerstown Morning Herald, 31 December 1954, p. 12).
Those who are familiar with Hagerstown history know that the City Market House, since 1928 located at 25 W. Church Street, has been a center economic and social life in the county for over two hundred years, surviving the rise of supermarkets and international food distribution.
J. Walter sat for this bust portrait at the studio of Bascom W. T. Phreaner (1845-1932), who operated a photographic gallery in Hagerstown from 1866 to 1901. Phreaner used a traditional burned-out background to highlight the simple dignity of the young man’s clear-eyed gaze. Pryor chose a 5″x7″ cream card mount with a subtle pebbled texture.
Attempted album rescues inspire both excitement and anguish, satisfaction and sadness.
All these emotions and more permeate my thoughts about an old, red velvet-covered album I snatched back from online auction oblivion in 2012.
But this is going about the story backwards. It began with the appearance on ebay of a cabinet card photograph of Nora Welty as a child. Having acquired a portrait of the same person as a young woman more than a year before, I was eager to win the auction, and did so.
I had already done some family history research on Nora (Welty) Barnheisel (1878-1951), daughter of Fairplay, Md. cabinetmaker David Welty (1832-1916) and Laura A. (Shafer) Welty (1840-1917), so when I noticed a number of other identified Hagerstown-area vintage card photographs up for auction, I quickly realized that the individuals were all part of the same group of linked families from Washington County, whose surnames include Long, Shafer, Coffman, Slifer, Fahrney, Reichard and Middlekauff.
According to Jerry Henry’s The History of the Church of the Brethren in Maryland (Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House, 1936), a group of German Baptists began meeting for services in a structure, possibly a log school house, around 1790, led by Elders David Long and his brother-in-lawn Daniel Reichard. This community eventually became known as the Manor congregation.
Manor Church of the Brethren, located off the Sharpsburg Pike between Hagerstown and Antietam battlefield, still exists today. In its large adjoining cemetery rest many of Nora Welty’s ancestors and relations.
The anguish of this album for me is that I could not afford to save all the photographs that were removed and auctioned off. Of the 54 slots that, carefully labeled in pencil, appear to have contained photographs, I was only able to save 18 plus two copies of a memorial card for Alexander Shafer.
When the empty album came up for sale, I bought it as well. All 18 photographs are now back in their proper places and they and the album will eventually find a home in a public institution in Washington County.
But whose album was it? The identifications below the photographs provide clues. Pride of place went to “Uncle David Long my mother’s Brother” and “Aunt Mary Reichard Long,” his wife.
The owner of the album was a niece of David Long (1820-1897) and Mary (Reichard) Long. A few pages further into the album, we see “sister Laura Shafer Welty” (1840-1917), wife of David Welty (1832-1916), Nora Welty’s father, and then “my father Alexander Shafer” (1809-1893). Alexander Shafer’s second wife was Catherine Long (1818-1890), one of Rev. David Long’s siblings.
So the owner of the album was one of the four siblings of Laura A. (Shafer) Welty. Another photo is identified as “sister Annie Shafer” (1852-1904). Other siblings were Estella (Shafer) Coffman, Clara Ellen (Shafer) Slifer, and Charles A. Shafer.
Alexander Shafer was married twice: Clara, Laura and Charles were his children by his first wife, Leah Sarah Eakle (1816-1848); Annie and and Estella were his children by his second wife, Catherine Long. My money is on Estella (Shafer) Coffman as the original owner of the album.
In documenting the people in this venerable, once-cherished album, I begin where the owner began–with Rev. David Long.
This later David Long (1820-1897) appears in Henry’s history of the Brethren in Maryland as a revered leader of the Manor congregation. Son of wealthy Washington County farmer and miller Joseph Long (1792-1852) and Nancy Ann Rowland (1791-1865), farmer David Long became an elder at age 25 and then a minister at age 30, presiding over the Manor church for 25 years.
Henry relates several anecdotes about David Long to convey his character, including that Long once bought and freed all the slaves at a slave sale.
Long is said to have delivered the sermon in the Mumma Brethren church the night before the great battle at Antietam in September 1862. This simple white-washed structure became a part of collective American memory as “the Dunker church.“
David and Mary Long had 12 children. Joseph, Walter, Orville and Victor became Brethren ministers; three daughters, Susan, Elizabeth and Catherine, married Brethren ministers: Susan married Eli Yourtee; Elizabeth married Emanuel David Kendig; Catherine married Seth F. Myers. By my count, David and Mary Long had 48 grandchildren scattered throughout western Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kansas, Missouri and California.
The A. L. Rogers studio operator who created this portrait of Rev. Long used the popular vignette style, which burns out the background of the sitter.
As I’ve written about in my blog Cardtography, Albert Long Rogers(1853-1934) owned studios in Westminster and Baltimore, Maryland, and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as well as in Hagerstown.
The portrait, taken in Rogers’ Hagerstown location, depicts a full-bearded Rev. Long in his later years, showing many wrinkles, but with eyes still clear and intelligent. His clothing is simple and unadorned, reflecting the back-to-basics values of the Brethren.
Thanks to the work of many dedicated volunteers, I have been able to find 99 gravesof Longs, Shafers, Weltys, Reichards, Slifers, Fahrneys, Boyds, Eakles and more, on findagrave.com. All 18 portraits I acquired have been posted to their memorials there.
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.
I gathered in this oversized cabinet card portrait of miller Raymond Lycurgus Kelly and Belva Grace Wiles Kelly because I knew they were life-long residents of Frederick County, Maryland. What has stumped me is the name of the Frederick photographer who took the photograph.
The blind embossed mark was used in the early days of carte de visites by photographers such as the Bendann Brothers and Henry Pollock. After the great excesses of photographic advertising back-marks of the 1880s and 1890s, the blind emboss made a comeback as a tasteful, restrained style that comported with early 1900s tastes.
But if an impression is not made deeply enough, such marks can be hard to read. One can make out “Frederick, Md.”and “Studio,” but the name of the studio or photographer, written in flowing script, is nigh impossible to decipher.
One thing I could see was that the photographer’s name had to be short.
My investigation started with research into the portrait’s subjects to get a sense of the time this photo might have been taken.
Popular miller and auction sales clerk Raymond Lycurgus Kelly (1890-1958) married Belva Grace Wiles (1887-1956), daughter of Sarah Hummer and Lewistown farmer Americus Wiles (1846-1905), about 1910-1911. After their marriage, Raymond and Belva lived in the Walkersville area, and were active in the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church, just south of Walkersville.
Raymond was just 21 when he married, and he certainly looks quite young in this photograph, so the photo could have been taken ca. 1910-1915.
Next stop: a 1915 directory of Frederick and environs. I found several people listed as photographers:
I ruled out the surnames Ridenour and Leidweidge as too long. My best guess is that the mark is that of John Frederick “Frank” Kreh (1861-1939).
Kreh, like Burger, was trained by J. Davis Byerly, starting at the age of 15. In 1895, Kreh went out on his own, calling his business “Kreh’s Art Studio” and “Kreh Photo Co.”
For 60 years, he did all sorts of photographic work, until his retirement in 1935–landscapes and historic sites for postcards, architectural and construction photos, photos of all sorts of events, as well as studio portraits. Chances are good that if you have family who lived in the Frederick area during the 20th century, you have a photo by Kreh in your album somewhere.
Got an idea about the name of the photographer on this portrait? Let me know.
Those are the first words of the headline on Rev. C. L. Keedy’s obituary in the Hagerstown Daily Mail of 25 March 1911. The paper made much of the gentle manner of Rev. Keedy’s passing. It was what used to be known as a “good death”: peaceful and without suffering.
This notion of the good Christian death was very different from mid-19th century accounts that stressed, says historian Patricia Jalland, the spiritual nature of suffering and its ability to bring dying sinners to God :
“The ordeal could provide punishment for past sins, while also purifying, testing and strengthening the Christian faith of sufferer and attendants. . .[Christan writers’] emphasis was usually on the spiritual struggle and ultimate triumph rather than the physical ordeal” (Death in the Victorian Family, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, pp. 51-53)
At the end of the Victorian period, however,”the evangelical model of the good death declined in influence. . . . The decline in Evangelical piety and passion in the late Victorian period was paralleled with an increase in anxiety about the physical suffering of dying” (Death, 53).
Those who mourned Cornelius Keedy, Lutheran minister, physician and long-time president and proprietor of Hagerstown Female Seminary, could take comfort in the ease of his passing.
He had died “sitting in his natural position when he was in the habit of reading, the paper in his hand, his arm on the table. His features were composed and peaceful, indicating that death was instantaneous, occurring without a struggle or any pain.”
This easy death might be taken as an indication that the longtime Lutheran educator had, in Christian terms, found his heavenly reward for an exemplary life. The obituary writer described him as “widely known” and “prominent in religious and educational circles;” the writer claims that “the news of his death produced a shock throughout the community”–but we really don’t know what kind of a man he was.
Cornelius Keedy (1834-1911) was one of eight children born near Rohrersville, Md. to prosperous Washington County farmers Daniel Keedy (1799-1876) and Sophia (Miller) Keedy (1809-1880). Rev. Keedy graduated from Gettysburg College in 1857 and was ordained as a Lutheran minister in 1859. He served Lutheran congregations in Johnstown, Waynesboro, and St. Peter’s Lutheran Churchin Barren Hill, Pa.
He married Elizabeth Wyatt Marbourg (1840-1920), daughter of successful Johnstown merchant Alexander Marbourg, in 1860.
In 1863 Keedy earned a degree in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. He practiced, according to his obituary, for about five years in Washington, Iowa, where some of his wife’s relations had settled.
The school, located at E. Antietam and King streets, had been established in 1853 by the Maryland Synod of the Lutheran Church. Keedy purchased it in 1878, and according to J. Thomas Scharf, “continued to improve it until it has become one of the most beautiful and attractive places in any of the middle states” (J. Thomas Scharf, History of Western Maryland, v. 2, 1882, p. 1159).
“The seminary stands upon a commanding eminence just east of Hagerstown, from which may be had a magnificent view of hill and dale and of the town outstretched below. The main edifice is an imposing brick structure, four stories in height, and built in the Romanesque style. There are three wings of equal height with the main building. The grounds, comprising an area of 11 acres, are thickly set with upwards of one hundred handsome evergreens, and about five hundred trees of other varieties. Choice shrubbery marks in graceful lines numerous picturesque divisions of the inclosoure, and over the entire surface is spread a bright carpet of rich green-sward.”
The school had a fairly serious and ambitious curriculum for its young women, including ancient and modern languages, English literature, and music.
Mrs. Keedy served as principal, and she may have also had a considerable financial stake in the school. F. J. Halm published a song entitled “The Hagerstown Female Seminary March,” dedicated to Mrs. Keedy, in 1877.
Hagerstown Female Seminary was created as part of a wave of enthusiasm about women’s education that swept the Lutheran church after David F. Bittle published his 111-page “Plea for Female Education” in 1851 (Richard W. Solberg, Lutheran Higher Education in North America (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1985, p. 102). Rev. Bittle even resigned his pastorate to raise funds and support for the proposed school.
After the college closed in 1911, the buildings were occupied by Washington County Hospital. The structures on the site were demolished in 2012, and the city is currently considering how to use the open space.
This cabinet card photograph, taken at the Hagerstown studio of Bascom W. T. Phreaner (1845-1932) is dated in pen on the reverse “1861-1862,” but Keedy’s white hair and wrinkles suggest a later date. Phreaner maintained a photographic studio in Hagerstown from 1866 to 1901.
For this portrait, the photographer chose a vignetted, head-and-shoulders composition, with the sitter facing a quarter turn away from the camera. The pose created deep shadows above eyes that look slightly upward, as if Keedy were thinking about his many responsibilities: four children to educate and provide for, and a school full of 150 lively adolescent young ladies to watch over.
Rev. Cornelius L. Keedy and Elizabeth Marbourg Keedy are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown. Their children were Sarah (Keedy) Updegraff, James Marbourg Keedy, Wyatt M. Keedy, and Cornelius King Keedy.
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.
Inscribed “Yours Very Sincerely, Agnes Blass, taken July 1902, to Mrs. G. Sander,” this busy, slightly over-sized cabinet card portrait looks much more back to the 19th century than it does forward to the 20th.
Although attempting to highlight the subject’s rather striking gown, the Julius Hebbel studio operator overwhelmed the dress with clutter representing some of the 1880s’ typical props: a sentimental rural landscape backdrop (the visible edge of which reveals the studio’s “back stage”), artificial flowers and Hebbel’s ubiquitous Victorian wicker screen.
Miss Blass is posed in profile to highlight the ornamentation on the gown’s filmy overskirt and small gathered train, but somehow the lighting has produced a deep shadow that makes the young women look as if she has a black eye.
Louisa Agness Blass was born 1 December 1872 in Washington County, Ohio to Bavarian immigrants Jacob Blass (1834-1890) and Catherine (Barthell) Blass (1835-1920).
Jacob Blass was apparently a pastor of the German Reformed church who served congregations in Baltimore, Pennsylvania and Indiana, including St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church in Erie, Pa., Emmanuel Church (now part of the United Church of Christ) in Meadville, Pa., and St. John’s Evangelical Church, Evansville, Ind.
A 1901 Baltimore Sun article on the 50th anniversary of the “First German United Evangelical Lutheran Church” noted Jacob Blass as a former pastor, and said the church was located on Eastern Avenue near Broadway, but this may not be accurate.
The Blasses lived in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore in 1880. There is an Evangelical United Church of Christ at Dillon Street and S. East Avenue in Canton, but it’s unclear whether this congregation has any relation to the one served by Blass.
Agness and her mother made their home with Agness’ brother, Reverend Julius Blass (1861-1902). According to a family history researcher on Ancestry.com, Agness became the second wife of Erie, Pa. cigar manufacturer Henry Mueller and step-mother to Henry’s daughter Thelma Mueller.
Reverend Julius Blass was ordained as a Unitarian minister in 1882 after studying at the Meadville Theological School, Meadville, Pa.. He died on 5 April 1902 in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun, 6 April 1902).
Agness’ brother John Henry Blass became a pharmacist, and in 1902 kept a drug store at 410 N. Gay Street, next door to the Hebbel Studio at 409 N. Gay Street, so having her portrait taken there would have been quite convenient.
The funeral directors H. Sander and Sons were charged with conveying the Reverend Julius Blass’ remains back to Erie, Pa. for burial. Agness Blass presented this portrait to “Mrs. G. Sander,” who likely was the wife of George A. Sander, Henry Sander’s son and a member of the family firm.
Born in Missouri on 1 April 1860, he grew up in the hamlet ofBrookevilleand the town of Olney, Montgomery County, Maryland, where his father, Rufus Worthington Gartrell (1824-1898), was a merchant and postmaster. Although not a distinguished family, their roots in Montgomery County went at least as far back as the American Revolution.
Rufus appears to have been the only one of five siblings who married and had children. Julian was one of three siblings, and all remained single.
In 1889 Gartrell joined the DC dental practice of C. E. Kennedy at 1426 New York Avenue, NW (Washington DC Evening Star, 23 May 1889).
Gartrell’s interest was oral prophylaxis, and he became a lecturer on this subject at the George Washington University School of Dentistry (GWU Bulletin March 1910).
His mother Caroline (Robinson) Gartrell, and his sisters Hallie May and Laura, kept house for him at 3025 15th St., NW.
Dr. Gartrell died 28 March 1943 in Washington, DC. His funeral was held at All Souls Episcopal Church, just a few blocks from his DC home.
He is buried, along with his parents and sisters Hallie and Laura, at Saint Johns Episcopal Church, Olney, Montgomery County, Md, the church his ancestor Caleb Gartrell helped to found in 1842.
John Philip Blessing (1835-1911) and son-in-law Henry Fenge were partners at 214 N. Charles Street in Baltimore from 1887 to 1904, a timeline that fits my tentative dating of this portrait to 1888 (Ross Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900).
As with many of the other portraits of Maryland doctors and dentists in my collection, the operator chose a vignetted bust for Gartrell’s portrait, in which the background is burned out to create a soft, floating effect.
I am grateful to descendant and family historian William Gartrell, who has posted a Gartrell family treebased on notes made by Hallie and Laura Gartrell and The Gartrell/Gatrell Ancestry of Colonial Marylandby Randall A. Haines.