Rare Images of Antietam and the Photographers Who Took Them

Thanks to a Hagerstown pal, I’ve acquired and am devouring Steve Recker’s wonderful new book Rare Images of Antietam and the Photographers Who Took Them.

A Washington County native, Recker has researched the lives of all the major photographers who took photos of Antietam battlefield: Elias Marken Recher, David Bachrach, W. B. King, J. H. Wagoner, and more.

Recker carefully investigated how each photographer came to take their pictures, and has painstakingly worked to understand what is depicted in each. Also included are some rarely-seen images of the photographers themselves. Some of these cartes de visite and stereoviews have never been seen before.

And you can’t get it on Amazon–only at area bookstores and at Recker’s site, Virtual Antietam. So virtually run, don’t walk, to his site and grab a copy before they sell out.

Read a Q & A with the author on John Banks’ Civil War Blog.

Read an article about Recker and his career in the Hagerstown Daily Mail.

From Susan Bear’s Album: Mr. and Mrs. Martin Bear

Taken at the Hagerstown, Maryland studio of Elias Marken Recher, this carte de visite photograph was found in an album that belonged to their daughter, Susan Bear (1836-1909) of Hagerstown.

On the reverse is written “Mr. and Mrs. Martin Bear’s pictures taken from a Ferrotype [aka tintype] June 18th 1872”.

Well-to-do Maryland-born  farmer Martin Bear or Baer (1799-1872) and Elizabeth (Stahl) Bear (1795-1875) had seven daughters: Christianna (b. 1824), Mary Elizabeth (b. 1825), Lydia (1828-1865), Sarah Catherine (b. 1831), Louisa (1834-1888), Susan and Anna (1839-1927) .

Only four of the seven Bear girls married that I can determine: Lydia married Washington County farmer William Wisherd, Louisa married a TroupMary Elizabeth married Burkittsville, Maryland dry goods merchant John Hightman or Heightman, and Sarah married Williamsport grocer Caleb F. Eakle.

According to the 1878 advertisement of the trustees’ sale of Martin Bear’s estate, Bear owned at his death 208 acres about five miles from Hagerstown, where the Williamsport and Greencastle Turnpike crossed the Western Turnpike. The estate included a stone house, orchards, a well, a stream, a barn, etc.

Although I have not yet been able to determine Martin Bear’s parentage, I am guessing that two others who lived close to him–Isaac Bear (b. abt. 1790, Md.) and John Bear (b. abt. 1796, Md.) were his brothers or close relations.

Another Bear/Baer named John M. Bear (1822-1878), who was probably a close relation, emigrated quite early to Pine Creek Township, Ogle County, Illinois. The evidence for the connection is the presence in Susan Bear’s album of six tintype portraits of John M. Bear’s children: Isaac Martin Bear, John Buchman Bear, Levi Rowland Bear, Rose Miranda Bear, Lilly Almira or Elmira Bear, and Mary Kate Bear (more about this family in future posts).

Susan’s jewel-like album, studded with white beads and held by metal clasps, measures about 4-1/2″ x 6″. It is inscribed on the flyleaf “Christmas gift / Presented to Susan Bear / Dec 25th 1869 by / Mr. L . . . R . . . . . “

The Bear family may have scattered to Ogle County and beyond, but the affection Martin Bear felt for his wife, even after a long and arduous life together, still feels fresh in this wonderful image.

Martin Bear and Elizabeth (Stahl) Bear are both buried in Riverview Cemetery, Williamsport, Washington County, Maryland.