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.

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Mom Hanging Out with Friends

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 might even bring your mother.

 

Why not have a picnic with the Border Control guys, teach them how to pick cranberries. Gather families together for a good time. Girls, top photo below: Mom, Louise Johnson (Rier), and Muriel Clemmons (Watts).

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Related posts:

My Mother Louise Adele Johnson.

Mom and Brother Robert on a Sleigh Ride. Postcard 1920s.

Mom at 16. High School Graduation. 1936.

Mom’s Adventures in Portland: Horse Back Riding. 1942.

Mom Keeps Men at Stewart Field Air Force Base on High Alert. 1944.

Mom and Friends. Rotary Anns Bowling Team Trophy. 1959.

My Mother Louise Adele Johnson

The Early Years: 1920 – 1942

Mom was born January 19, 1920 in Machias, Maine, the third child and only daughter of Ezekiel and Harriet Means Johnson. She had two elder brothers: Warren, born in 1908, and Robert, born in 1918.

She was a towheaded toddler who explored the outdoors in a sweater and boots. The back of the photo reads:

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Mom loved to play in her grandparent’s barn at the house at 24 Broadway. One day, she romped with her brother Bob and cousin Charlie on the upper floor where the hay was stored. While big brother Warren stacked hay, Mom got carried away, forgot about the hole to throw hay down to the horses, and fell through to the lower barn. When she told the story to me over 30 years later, she vividly recalled her surprise descent but didn’t get hurt. There was soft hay below to catch her. She remembered that Grandmother Nellie was not pleased.

Mom entered first grade at age four. I asked her why she started school so young. She told me that her brother Bob was entering school that year and her mother thought it best to send them together.

This photo of the first grade class at Hemingway School is kindly provided by Irene Vose Robinson. Mom is in the back row, 5th from the left, the little girl with the hat. She is beside Irene (on her left). Mom’s brother Bob is in the front row, 3d from the right.

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10327198_649622821753733_998484054_nMom and Bob graduated from Machias High School together in 1936. Mom had an Italian boyfriend, Giouvanucci. Her mother did not like him much but didn’t interfere.

“He had the most gorgeous Chrysler car. We used to ride all over the place,” Mom said. From her grin, I knew the guy was as gorgeous as his car. Mom had an Italian boyfriend? In Machias? Now that was news. More investigation of old photo albums revealed that this intriguing boyfriend was the brother of Mom’s close friend Sue.

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After graduation from High School, Mom got a job at the Washington County Court House in the Registry of Deeds office and lived with her mother who taught piano lessons. Soon, Mom met my father, James Eugene Rier, one day in downtown Machias. Dad said he knew she would be his wife the first time he saw her. I asked him how he knew he had found his true love.

“When I first laid eyes on her that day, I tingled. All over. All the way to my toes,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye. Dad always had that Lubec sense of humor.

In 1937, Harriet inherited the house at 24 Broadway after her mother, Nellie died in December the previous year.  She and my mother could not afford to heat the house, in spite of their combined incomes. They moved to Portland that year and rented rooms at the boarding house of a friend at 15 Bolton Street. Mom snagged employment as a administrative assistant for a prominent lawyer, Albert Knudsen. She loved the work. As Mom turned the pages of the old album and showed me the news articles on Knudsen, she said fondly, “He was so intelligent. A good man. I learned so much from him.”

 

 

 

Harriet and friends 1939. Her family, my father and his sister gathered there too.

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L to R. Standing. Evelyn Rier (Dad’s sister), Lillian Johnson (wife of Warren), Dad, Harriet, Bob. Kneeling. Warren Johnson (Mom’s eldest brother) and son Billy.

For Mom, there was time for horseback riding. She became an enthusiast, joined a club in Portland, and made many friends there.

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In 1939, Mom and her mother traveled to the World’s Fair in NYC. Dad was their escort. Or perhaps Harriet was Mom and Dad’s escort? Most of one family scrapbook is dedicated to the sights they saw and the memories they made there.

 

Dad took a photo of the two of them in front of a warped mirror…

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One of the highlights was the precision formation flying exhibitions. Dad was entranced. Then and there he decided to become a pilot. That dream would be fulfilled. In 1942, he joined the US Army Air Corp, went to boot camp in Texas, was assigned to Stewart Field in Newburgh, NY, and trained as a flight instructor. Mom was still living and working in Portland. They decided to marry.

 

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Related posts:

Mom Hanging Out With Friends.

Mom and Brother Robert on a Sleigh Ride. Postcard 1920s.

Mom at 16. High School Graduation. 1936.

Mom’s Adventures in Portland: Horse Back Riding. 1942.

Mom Keeps Men at Stewart Field Air Force Base on High Alert. 1944.

Mom and Friends. Rotary Anns Bowling Team Trophy. 1959.

Harriet’s Recommendation Letter. 1905

BANGOR PIANO SCHOOL
A SCHOOL OF PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
FREDERICK MARINER, Director
Morse-Oliver Building

Bangor, Maine Mch. 13, 1905

Miss Harriet P. Means
Machias, ME

My dear Miss Means,

It may be a help to you in your teaching work if I write you these few lines, in a way an unsolicited testimonial to your advancement under my instruction during the past few months.

I found you ever a most painstaking and careful student and your progress was marked, and very pleasing to me, you instructor.

I am sure that in the work you have gone over with me and in its application to pupils you are most competent to instruct others and after sufficient experience in this particular time of your musical development will not only be pleased with your own work but will find your class of pupils and their parents must [be] appreciative of your efforts and the good results obtained from your systematic instruction.

Wishing you all success. I am ever
Yours very truly

Frederick Mariner

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Mariner included a newspaper article with his unsolicited reference letter, as my grandmother Harriet formally begins her career as a pianist. It is rather tattered now, 106 years later.  She graduated from Bangor Piano School in 1905 and became an instructor under the renowned Frederick Mariner who had a summer home on the Penobscot River. Mariner’s studio was in NYC but he accepted gifted students at the Bangor Piano School.

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The Bangor Piano School was located in The Morse Oliver building at the corner of Exchange and State Streets. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1911.

“Unquestionably the worst disaster to strike the Queen City, the Great Fire of 1911 reshaped the city’s landscape, burning 55 acres, destroying 267 buildings, damaging 100 more and causing $3,188,081.90 in losses and damage. The conflagration left 75 families homeless, most of whom had lived from Harlow Street to Center Street to lower French Street. It destroyed more than 100 businesses during a nine-hour span.”

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The Music Scene in Bangor, Maine 1907. Published in The Musical Courier, Volume 54, Column two.

Music in Maine

January 21, 1917

“Bangor Music teachers resumed teaching January 7, the date of the reopening of public schools. Mrs. ET Wasgatt who might be styled the dean of vocal instructors in the city, spent several weeks in Boston, enjoying rest and inspiration thereby.

Harriet Means, instructor at the Mariner Studios, spent her vacation at her home in Machias.

The regular Thursday recitals were resumed at the Bangor Piano School January 10, with a program of nine numbers, three of which were vocal the entire class singing, with different pupils accompanying at the piano. This feature has been lately introduced to promote broader musical culture to fit pupils for playing accompaniments when called upon by Mrs. Tilton in the public schools. Graded material is used, so that pupils of all ages can have this training. After this part of the program was completed the director presented in condensed form the story of the leading events of the early life of Beethoven….”

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Original Letter from Frederick Mariner to Harriet Means

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My Great Grandmother’s Eldest Sister

Thirza J Getchell. I have her book of music, her zither, and two of the hats she made. Thurza J Getchell is engraved on the cover of the music book. A misprint?  I believe it is since my grandmother Harriet called her Aunt Thirza in her 1908 letters. And, Drisko’s History of Machias (the bible for Machias history) documents her name as Thirza.

Thirza had a millinery store in downtown Machias and was a successful businesswoman. She married George W Flynn. They had one son, Ossie C. Flynn, who sadly died at the age of 10 months. Thereafter Thirza remained childless.

Thirza’s velvet and feather hats. Imagine these hats were made and sold in Machias!

Thirza’s zither.

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Thirza’s music book, the hats she made, and zither she played, were in the attic of my ancestors home at Broadway in Machias, Maine, the house where I grew up.

After her second husband’s death, Thirza lived with and cared for her mother, Martha Jane Getchell, in a downtown apartment in Machias, likely above Thirza’s store.

Thirza died March 4, 1913. Her mother, Martha Jane, died two days later. Thirza was 69 years of age, her mother was 88 years old.

This is a photo of my great grandparents William and Nellie Means at their home on Broadway. Her mother, Martha Getchell and sister Thirza sit on the porch.

My Great Great Great Grandfather Robert Means Jr.

Reading the 1913 Means Family Notebook, I discovered that he was the son of Robert Means Sr.

Robert Means Jr….born in Saco. Married Blue Hill Dec 1, 1809 to Charlotte Kimball Witham daughter of Andrew Witham [from] Bradford Mass Sept 7, 1790. She died Hampden Me Apl 29 1870. He was a sea captain and died Blue Hill Nov 2, 1842 both buried in Sea Side Cemetery at Blue Hill and two large stones mark their graves. 

Capt Robert Means built the first three masted schooner with a few others….He was a Master Mason of St John’s Lodge #1 Wilmington N. C.

The 1913 Means notebook contains a drawing of Capt Robert Means gravestone and records that the stone stands 4 foot 6 inches high, white marble. His gravestone is side by side with his wife’s gravestone, also drawn in the notebook.

“Dear is the spot where mother sleeps and sweet strains which angels pour O! Why should we in anguish weep…she is not lost but gone before God…they live on earth in thought and deed as truly as in heaven.”

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Related posts:

My Great Great Great Grandparents. Bible Record of Births and Deaths.

My Great Great Grandfather Otis Witham Means.

My Great Great Grandmother Elsie Fuller Berry Means.

My Great Grandparents William and Nellie Means.

Read more about the Robert Means family 1718 – 1950 here.

 

 

My Great Great Great Grandparents. Bible Record of Births and Deaths.

The parents and siblings of my great great grandfather Otis Witham Means.

Robert Means. Born in Saco, Me

July 25th 1783

Charlotte K Witham. Born in Bradford MA??

September 7th 1790

Robert Means and Charlotte K Witham were married in Bluehill, Me, December 1st, 1809. By the Rev. Jonathan Fishev

Mehitable Kimball Means. Born Sept 11th 1810

John Witham Means. Born Oct 6th, 1812

Alexander Hamilton Means. Born Oct 23d 1814

Otis Witham Means. Born June 6th 1817

Robert Parker Means. Born Sept 24th 1819

Charlotte Kimball Means. Born Sept 16th 1820

Mary Susan Ray Means. Born March 30th 1823

Elvina Stevens Means. Born Nov 8th 1825

Robert Henry Byron Greensough Means. Born Jan 30 1831

 

Deaths

Robert Means died Nov 2nd 1842. Aged 59

Robert Parker Means died Oct 26th 1819. 2 days 1 month

Mehitable Kimball Means died May 4th 1857.  Aged 46

John Gordon, C.K. Means Husband died Sept 16th, 1855. Aged 38 years 4 months 2 days

This Bible record is part of the 1924 Grace Means collection of ancestor records and portraits. Grace wrote on the back:

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