My Ancestors’ Old, Old Photo Album and James Garfield.

I begin to peruse the third old photo album found in my great grandmother’s home where I grew up. I turn the page and find the first photograph is of Senator James Garfield taken by the G.W. Pach studio in NYC.

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Perhaps the James Garfield photo will give me a clue to the time period of this album?

According to the NY historical society, Gustavus Pach’s studio was located at 841 Broadway from 1877 to 1881. Between 1881 and 1890, the studio was listed under the Pach Brothers at this location. From the 1870s, the Pach brothers operated studios at Harvard, Yale, West Point, and Long Branch NJ also noted on the back of the photo.

From the 1870s, the Pach Brothers made portraits of elite families including George W Childs, Anthony Drexil and their close friend Ulysses S. Grant. Impressed with the brothers’ photographic work, Grant, Childs, and Drexel pooled funds to underwrite the Pach brothers’ first photographic studio built at Long Branch on the grounds of the United States Hotel, as well as their mobile horse-drawn darkroom. Long Branch was a shore town that was a favorite resort for wealthy Philadelphians such as Childs and Drexel.

I learn that the Pach brothers were photographers for elite families and Ulysses S Grant. It makes sense they also photographed James Garfield.

When was Garfield a US Senator? He was an Ohio Republican elected to the US Senate in 1859 until 1862, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1881, Garfield was elected President after nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. His Presidency was impactful, but cut short after 200 days when he was assassinated.

The Pach photography studio was at this NY location from the 1870s when Garfield was not a Senator.  Another mystery.

Why did Garfield hold such a special place in this photo album? My ancestors were Maine Republicans. My great great grandfather Otis Means was a member of the Maine Legislature in the 1860s/1870s era.

I search for a connection between Garfield and Maine and find that his secretary of State was Maine’s own James G Blaine. Garfield and Blaine had both served in the US House of Representatives between 1863 and 1876, both had fought government corruption and opposed the powerful“stalwarts” faction that sought control of the Republican party.

Blaine stood by Garfield’s side when the assassin’s bullet struck.

I can only guess when this was inserted into the album, but perhaps it was in response Garfield’s horrific assassination with Blaine by his side in 1881.

This image may depict Garfield, his assassin, and Blaine. The man on the far left resembles Blaine.

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Last year, I watched an excellent PBS documentary on James Garfield. You can watch it here.

More on this photo album in an upcoming post!

Related posts:

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa late 1800s. Part II.

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa late 1800s. Part II.

There are four old, old photo albums I found in the attic of my great grandparents home where I grew up. This album, with the beautiful leather cover embossed with bright-colored flowers, has the name of the owner on the first page: my great grandmother’s eldest sister, Mrs. G.W. Flynn, Thirza Getchell Flynn.

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I sit and search through this beautiful album, looking for photos that I recognize.

The first photograph in the album is a handsome man I do not recognize. Perhaps he is Thirza’s husband, George W. Flynn. It is also possible he is one of the Getchell men.

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This man’s photo was taken at Edouart & Cobb, a studio located at No. 504 Kearny Street, in San Francisco, California. In 1869, Alexander Edouart joined David Cobb and opened a studio on Kearny Street. Their partnership lasted until 1881. Thus, this photo dates between 1869 and 1881.

On the next page, there is a beautiful child holding a doll. This is one of two photos with a name written on the back. Sophie Palmer, age six years, 1882.

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I search for a connection between the Getchell and Palmer families. I find that my great great great grandfather John Getchell had a sister, Olive Getchell Palmer, born in 1810. Perhaps Sophie is her granddaughter.

On the next page, I find this man and woman. I have seen her before among the Getchell/Means family photos. This couple may be Thirza’s mother and father – my great great grandparents, Marshfield (1821 – 1892) and Martha Jane Holmes Getchell (1825 – 1913). I have Martha Getchell’s linens, blankets and quilts in my home.

I run upstairs and carefully sort through the family photos stored in my great grandfather’s secretary and find two remembered photos of her, one is with a family, likely her son, Lysander or Osgood, his wife and child.

As I search through the secretary, I discover a color tintype photo that resembles this woman at a much younger age.

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I turn the page of the photo album. There is a baby, photographed by Ezekiel Vose in Machias, circa 1870s.

On the same page, there is a photo of young child, the name “Thirza” written on the back.  Unless there are two Thirzas in the family, this may be Thirza Getchell Flynn as a child. Thirza was born in 1842 making that photo pre-1850. Is this even possible? It will take more research to figure this one out.

A young girl photographed with her doll at E Vose in Machias is dressed regally!

Then, I see my great grandfather William when he was young, age 21. I have seen this photo before in his autograph album. William Means was Thirza’s brother-in-law. He married my great grandmother Nellie Getchell Means.

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The rest of the photos in the album are a mystery. These men, women and children could be from the Getchell, Flynn, Means or Holmes families. It strikes me how most of these photos are not stern, instead artistic. I find the clothing, poses and photo settings fascinating!

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Related posts:

Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

Old, Old Photo Album. Part III.

The California Branch of the Getchell/Berry Families.

Tintype cartouche cards are in this old photo album. Circa 1860s 1870s.

The Means and Getchell Families.

My great grandparents secretary today.

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My Great Grandfather’s Autograph Book. 1877 to 1891.

I hold the small book in my hand. I’ve sat down with it more than once, staring at the pages, reading the autographs accompanied by a few words, hoping the leather gold-embossed book will tell me its secrets.

The first page has a photo of a man that I do not recognize but must be a younger version of my great grandfather, William Means, age twenty two.

The first entry is a greeting from his father, Otis Means. The page is faded and hard to read. I take out a magnifying glass.

“May Heaven bless you is the wish of your Father.” ~ Otis W. Means. Machiasport, February 10, 1878. 

The next page, his mother Elsie writes: “There is a [no] friend that sticketh more than a mother.” Elsie F Means. Machiasport. February 9. The year is not noted.

I surmise the book was a gift from father to son. But, wait. Half way through the book, I find the earliest signature is that of William’s niece Grace, dated February 16, 1877.

“Grace A Means. South Boston. Celebrated Case,” she writes. Perhaps the book was her gift to her beloved uncle for she was raised as his little sister. Grace had a habit of giving gifts to document family history. And by now, I know she had a sense of humor.

A few blank pages before this entry, I find a mystery, a conundrum. It is the signature of Grace’s mother, Francis Adele Means. The Grace Means collection of ancestors’ photos and written documentation of family history clearly states that her mother Francis died in 1871 when Grace was small. Grace produced that collection and distributed it to family in 1924. She was likely in her 50s or 60s. Could Grace have made a mistake in her mother’s date of death? Anything is possible. It’s unlikely there is another Francis A. Means in the family at the time.

So it is possible that Francis Means lived at least seven years longer than I previously thought. I will need to do a search of death certificates.

Francis writes in her brother William’s autograph book:

“I’ve looked these pages through and through. To see what others have written to you. And now I write to thee. These simple words. Remember me.” Francis A. Means. February 28, 1878.

Her words sound prophetic to me, for I know Francis died young, leaving her daughter Grace to be raised by her parents, Otis and Elsie Means.

William’s eldest brother Andrew signed : “What’s in a name? Your Aff Bro.  AF Means. His sister Harriet Means Putnam wrote: “Honor Thy Father and Mother.” Your Aff Sister, HE Putnam. South Boston. February 24th, 1878.

By 1877, many of the entries in the book are to William and Nellie, my great grandparents who married on July 1st, 1880. Nellie’s brother Deola C Getchell writes:

“Nellie and Will. I hope the change that you are to make will be for the best.” Your brother, DC Getchell. Marshfield, 1887.

That entry sounds as though William and Nellie have announced plans to marry and her brother is not all that convinced about the impeding marriage. Or, I am unfamiliar with language from 130 years ago.

A few pages before these words, I find the writing of Nellie’s mother and father, my great great grandparents, Marshfield and Martha Getchell:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Marshfield S Getchell. Marshfield, Maine. March 1887.

“When rocks and hills divide us. And you no more I see. Remember it is – Mother. Who wrote these lines for you.” Martha J Getchell. Marshfield, Maine. March 16, 1887. 

On other pages, I see the signatures of Nellie’s sisters: Thirza Getchell Flynn, and Dora Getchell Flynn. Sisters married brothers, not uncommon. I know that Thirza had a millinery shop in downtown Machias and made women’s hats. By the early 1900s, Dora lived in Brewer. She was watching over my grandmother Harriet, just before Harriet eloped in 1908 without telling her family. Other members of the Flynn family and numerous friends also wrote greetings. They were from Machiasport, Cherryfield, Columbia Falls, and Pembroke, Maine, and as far away as Boston and Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts.

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A list of friends’ signatures from near and far:

“Ain’t she horrid.” Katie L Farrell. Columbia Falls, Maine

“Little Man.” Amy H Johnson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb 8,1878

“May you always be as happy as you are now is the wish of your true friend.” Fannie F. Crocker. Machias, Maine. Aug 22, 1881

Edward L. Lincoln. Jamaica Plains Mass [in] Machiasport. Sept. 22nd ’77

“Remember the clock winder.” Lizzie E. Tobey  1877-10-21

May there be just clouds enough in your life to make a golden sunset.” Your friend, Emma G. Nash. Cherryfield, Maine. February 24th 1880.

“Great thoughts, noble deeds, a life true and holy. Charity open-handed, constant and brave. Good to your fellows, kindness to the lowly. Is the mission of man this side of the grave.” Lydia Bradbury. Machias, Maine. December 22nd ’77

Your friend, Stella A Tarbell. Feb 6th ’91

“Remember me as your friend.” Mrs. OS Lowe. Machias 2-6-91

W. O. Merrick. Boston, Mass [in] Machiasport. Aug 3/79

Edward Merrick. Boston, Mass [in] Machiasport. August 3, ’79

W.E. Tarbell. Meddybemps, Maine.

Emma B. Stewart. Machiasport. Oct 27, 1877

Sarah E. Tobey. Machiasport. Sept 27th, 1877

Your cousin” Georgia J. Robinson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb 9 1878

“Sincerely your friend” Ida F. Warde. Machiasport, Maine Sept. 20, 1877

“That you many aspire to that which is pure and noble. Is the wish of your sincere friend.” Abbie A Grant. Machiasport, Maine. Sept. 17, 1877

Peanuts are nice.” Annie M. Thompson. Machiasport, Maine. Feb. 5, 1878