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 it was inserted into the photo 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.

Dad’s Futuristic Car. 1935.

Lubec, Maine, the most easterly town in the US.

Dad liked to build (and fix) anything. When he was 20 years old, he and his best friend Bud McCaslin built a futuristic car in his father’s garage. Dad (R) and Bud (L) posed for a photo beside the car, the garage and Johnson Bay in the background.

How cool is that? Happy Father’s Day Dad!

 

On Father’s Day, Remembering My Dad James Eugene Rier — Voices of Ancestors

The Early Years: 1914 – 1942 Dad was born September 9th, 1914 in Lubec, Maine, the second child and first son of Frank and Elizabeth Keegan Rier. He had an elder sister Marion. As the years went by, Dad had four brothers: Francis (“Babe”), Julian (“Barney”), Paul, Raymond and three more sisters: Evelyn, Patrica and […]

via My Dad James Eugene Rier — Voices of Ancestors

Mom Hanging Out with Friends — Voices of Ancestors

Machias and Roque Bluffs, Maine. 1936 to 1942. What did girls do? Well, pose on a cool car. Hang out around their homes. Swing. What else? Hang out at the Cemetery, of course. Does anyone know Mom’s friend, dubbed “Tombstone Annie”? No one grows up in Machias without spending summer days at Roque Bluffs. You […]

via Mom Hanging Out with Friends — Voices of Ancestors

This is the most popular post on this blog in the past six months. Originally posted February 6th, the day 665 hits came in! Thank you Mom!

The 1980s: Dad, Mom and Gordon.

Left to right: Dad (James “Gene” Rier), Gordon Ackley and Mom (Louise Johnson Rier). Gordon’s Model A (or is it a Model T?) is in the background. Gordon was the manager of the shop at Rier Motors for many years, as far back as I can remember. He was part of our family. I miss them all dearly, but it is nice to see them together smiling on a sunny day!

Related posts:

The Beginning of A Business in Machias Maine. Rier Buick. 1949.

After 23 Years in Business, Dad’s Car Dealership Burned to the Ground.

My Dad, James “Gene” Rier: Maine’s Dean of Gas Engines. 1985.

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.

The Means and Getchell Families.

My great grandparents secretary today.

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Old, Old Photo Albums. Circa Late 1800s.

The cover detail of these albums is intricate. When I first pulled them from a trunk in the attic of my parents ten years ago, I didn’t recognize anyone. I wondered why no one wrote any names in these family albums. Who did they belong to?

I expect the owner/collector of these photos did not envision a time when no one would know the family members in the photos. It was a reminder not to make the same mistake in my lifetime. Have I written on the back of my memorable photos? Rarely. Are photos collected in my lifetime organized? Not yet. I’m working on it.

This year, I open the ancestors’ albums again while sitting in the old rocker my grandmother rocked me in. I gingerly remove the photos to look at the back. There are no names written there; some have the photographer’s stamp. I decide to investigate one album at a time, beginning with the smallest leather-bound one with the clasp, pictured in the front above.

In this album, I find photos of ancestors I now recognize for I have been immersed in them for a time now. The first two photos are of my great-great grandparents, Otis and Elsie Fuller Berry Means by photographer E. Vose in Machias, Maine. The same photos were in the Grace Means’ photo collection sent to the family in 1924. The next two photos are of a young woman that I cannot identify. I turn the page and find my great grandfather William, nearly the same photo is in his autograph book. The photographer was J.M. Goins, South State Street, Chicago. Was William doing business there I wonder?

Most of the album pages are empty, either never filled or distributed among the family. I do not recognize ten of the photos in the album. Are most of these men, women and babies William and his four brothers and sisters at different ages? Perhaps one of the women is William’s eldest sister Harriet, for she was not included in the Grace Means’ photo collection. Whoever she is, she does not resemble William’s other sister, Francis. The photos of this woman were taken in Boston where Harriet lived, as did William’s eldest brother, Andrew Means. I don’t see his two brothers’ likeness in these faces either, Andrew or Eliphalet. But then, I didn’t recognize William’s younger self in the autograph book at first. The elders in the album may be members of the Berry family.

I ask myself questions, think about the research required to find answers. I suppose it will help to just hold each album in my hands and ask whether I have spent enough time with my ancestors to answer these questions.

From the age of my great-great grandparents in the photos, I estimate the date as 1870s. The photographer, Ezekiel Vose, was listed in the 1876 Briggs’ Maine Business Directory. The photo of my great grandfather William is from 1875 or 1876 as the photographer, JM Goins, was located on State Street in Chicago for those two years. William’s age was 20 or 21 years old at the time, as he was born in 1855. The tintype photo of the baby in the carriage could range from 1855 to 1870s. My grandparents, William and Nellie Means were married in 1880. It seems likely that this one album originally belonged to William’s parents, Otis and Elsie Means of Machiasport, Maine and was handed down and stored in the attic where I discovered four old albums over 120 years later.

I’ve explored and documented one album. What might I discover in the other three?

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My great-great grandparents Otis and Elsie Means; My great grandfather William Means.

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Photos that I cannot identify. Yet.

Related posts:

1913. The Means Family.

The Means and Getchell Families.