Anna (Gibson) Ely, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Cabinet Card, circa 1883 – 1885. Photographer:  Lewis & Gibson, Ypsilanti, Michigan

Price:  $15.00

Photographers, Jefferson Gibson and Emerson Lewis, had reportedly teamed up for only about three years, giving us a very good estimate for this Cabinet Card date, 1883 to 1885, with this portrait of the beautiful Anna Gibson (no relation to the photographer that we know of). Though she wears a ring that might indicate that the photographic duo continued into late 1886, just as likely, this image was taken before her marriage to John Young Ely, December 22, 1886. The marriage record lists both bride and groom as being native residents of Farmington, Michigan, he age 22, occupation farmer, and she age 20. John, died very young, we’re sorry to report, at age 32 of peritonitis. Anna was the daughter of Joseph Gibson who was born in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland (an inadvertent Irish connection with our last few web posts) and Martha Morrison, of Michigan.

The 1900 Federal Census shows Anna, widowed, with her three children, Martha, William and Joseph, renting at 304 N. Hamilton, Ypsilanti, with her sister, Mary Gibson and three lodgers, though numerous later records show a longer residence at 307 N. Hamilton (including some that show Anna’s occupation as nurse).

Sources:  “Jefferson Gibson.” Portrait and Biographical Album of Washtenaw County, Michigan. Biographical Publishing Co. Chicago 1891. pp. 228 – 229.

“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N3K4-MP8 : 10 March 2018), John Young Ely and Annie Jennie Gibson, 22 Dec 1886; citing Farmington, Oakland, Michigan, v 2 p 38 rn 1121, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,479.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Ypsilanti Ward 3, Washtenaw, Michigan; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0112. (Ancestry.com).

Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 27 March 2018), memorial page for Anna Jane Gibson Ely (27 Jan 1867–22 Jul 1956), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11715472, citing Oakwood Cemetery, Farmington, Oakland County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Kätzchen (contributor 47304829) .

“Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVVD-GQWR : 13 December 2015), John Young Ely, 1897; Burial, Farmington, Oakland, Michigan, United States of America, Oakwood Cemetery; citing record ID 11715471, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.

Death Records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Ypsilanti City Directory, 1931. p. 84. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Cabinet Portrait By W. A. Armstrong

Cabinet Card. Circa 1879 – 1896. Photographer:  W. A. Armstrong, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Price:  $7.00

A photo of a clean-cut young man, wearing a suit jacket with short lapels and a bow tie. The tie has a diamond (or maybe “paste” – hand-cut glass) cross pinned to it. The photographer was W. A. Armstrong; studio address:  389 Broadway, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That the photographer at the above address shows up in city directories from 1879 through 1896 would seem to be a sure sign of his success:  He was in business for at least these number of years, and did not incur the necessity of changing locations. From the 1880 Federal Census, he is listed as William A. Armstrong, born in Pennsylvania about 1838, of Pennsylvania-born parents. His wife’s name was Sarah, and they had a 3-month old daughter. But to do justice to Mr. Armstrong, we’ll need to put up a separate posting for him, as a quick search has his name appearing in several photographic journals of the day.

Sources:  William Hogg’s The Milwaukee Directory for 1879, Vol. XII. p. 606. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Wright’s Milwaukee Directory, 1896. p. 1112. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Roll: 1436; Page: 28C; Enumeration District: 104. (Ancestry.com)

Dad And Kids, Darlington, Wisconsin

Cabinet Card, circa 1870s – 1880s. Photographer:  J. Polkinghorn, Darlington, Wisconsin.

Price:  $7.00

A Cabinet Card by photographer J. Polkinghorn in Darlington, Wisconsin of….surely this must be the dad in the photo with his young daughter and son. He wears no wedding ring, but perhaps there was none, or he was a widower. An interesting detail in this image is the man’s shoes which show dirt and general wear on the half over the toes, as if he was accustomed to wearing gaiters. No names for this family, unfortunately, but we hope they will be recognized by someone with Darlington or Lafayette County roots. The photographer’s backdrop is interesting, quite vague with that blank expanse in the middle and something tall and carved on our left, what it’s depicting is anyone’s guess, and then on our right a fancy, curved railing leading off to somewhere in our imaginations.

The photographer

Nothing definitive comes up for J. Polkinghorn but he could well be the John Polkinghorn born in England about 1857 who appears on various census record in Darlington, or Lafayette County. This person’s census records show no connection whatsoever to photography (dealer in musical instruments) but it still could be him, and likely, whoever he was, he would have listed himself in the city directories, but we’re not finding the city, or even the county records, online at this time.

That Faraway Look, Detroit, 1894 or ’95

Cabinet Card, 1894 – 1895. Photography by Burton J. Holcombe & Co.

Price:  $6.00       Size:  4 and 1/4 x 6 and 1/2″

The above photo of the beautiful woman with the faraway gaze looks over-exposed or faded, but to me, this enhances the dreamy quality. I think it’s true that the more you study a photo, the more it comes to life for you. Was the photographer experimenting with different poses?…the glimpse of the gloved hand, index finger slightly pointing…for depth, a little mystery perhaps, even some subtle humor….“Get on the right track, at Nine Mile and Mack…”  keeps coming to mind – I know, different era, but still!

Here’s our Photoshop version below, to try to put ourselves in the photographer’s place…maybe better to have her left hand appearing somewhere, since we get the fact that her right holds….no, wait…that’s maybe not the muff (to match the fur jacket) that she’s holding but a prop she’s just standing next to that was then touched up? Though from afar the impression is of someone carrying something, about to go on a short journey.


And yes, it’s obvious the card’s in somewhat rough shape, but after you time travel back to that point it’s funny how you really don’t regard the condition. Though we have no i.d. for the woman, we, thankfully, have half a name for the photography studio, along with the address and from this we discover that the bottom of the card read as:  B. J. Holcombe & Co.   212 Woodward ave., Detroit.

B. J. was Burton J. Holcombe. The 1894 and 1895 Detroit city directories show the same address as the one on the card. Multiple directories show that Burton Holcombe had moved frequently, and more detailed information about him will be found in the next post.

Sources:  R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1894. p. 673. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1895. p. 698. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

A Nice Gentleman, Chicago 1891

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Sometimes we get lucky with names, sometimes not:  Here’s a beautiful Cabinet Card portrait of a kind-looking older gentleman, maybe in his seventies or eighties. The writing on the bottom says (insert your best guess here on the name)  “D. A. Tibbles. 1891.”  So, Ancestry, Find A Grave and city directories were searched but we couldn’t find anyone under the possible last name of Tibbles or variations to fit his initials (and alternates) and time-frame.

The photo was taken by the Hartley (Edward F.) Studio, located at 309 W. Madison St. in Chicago. We’ll look into E. F. Hartley in the next post.

Cabinet Card photo. 1891. Photo studio: Edward F. Hartley, Chicago, Illinois.

Price:  $10.00    Size:  4 and 1/4 x 6 and 1/2″

Colby & Wilson Cabinet Card, Meredith, NH

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Cabinet Card photo of a little boy, (love the expression) about three years old, posed standing with hands in pockets, dressed in a long wool-looking coat with contrasting darker-colored cuffs and collar, the collar buttoned snug at the neck, and a winter hat with tassel. Someone, at some point, took the liberty of filling in the eyebrows and darkening the eyes a little.

It’s more probable than not that the little boy in this photo is the son of Fred Canney, according to the writing on the back which shows,  “Mrs. Fred Canney. Meredith, N.H.”  If this is correct, then it’s possible that this is a photo of Wilfred A. Canney, born about 1883; son of Fred Canney and Annie Martin. Wilfred married Alice B. Cummings on December 1, 1908 in Meredith, NH.

The photography studio of Colby & Wilson is more of a mystery. Nothing was found in online searches other than an image of the reverse side of one of their cabinet cards, currently appearing on Pinterest, though there are several possibilities showing up for individual photographers in other New Hampshire cities.

Cabinet Card, Meredith, New Hampshire. Circa 1886.

Price:  $7.00       Size:  4 and 1/8 x 6 and 3/8″

Source:  “New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLCN-D71 : accessed 5 December 2015), Fred J. Canney in entry for Wilfred A. Canney and Alice B. Cummings, 01 Dec 1908; citing Meredith, , New Hampshire, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 2,057,690.

Minneapolis Beauty By A. Larson

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This Cabinet Card shows a photo of a very poised and lovely young woman, probably a resident of Minneapolis, though we couldn’t know for sure. What immediately draws our attention is the large round brooch fastened at the collar. This is “an image within an image” kind of thing (love that) and it shows what appears to be a painting on porcelain of a young girl wearing a bonnet. The piece is bordered with a row of, I believe the term is “brilliants” or what we might call rhinestones, today. It would have been a favorite piece of jewelry, no doubt, and deservedly so. A row of interesting-looking metal buttons runs down the front of the woman’s close-fitted jacket or bodice of the dress (if this was a one-piece outfit.) White lace shows from underneath the stand-up collar; the collar’s points being just slightly turned down near the brooch. Her hair is side-parted and swept up with a little height at the back, adding an extra touch of elegance.

The photographer is Anton Larson, whose career will be explored a little more in the following post, but he worked out of the 313 Washington Avenue South address starting around 1884, according to city directories, and through at least 1905.

Cabinet Card. Circa 1884 – 1905. Photographer:  Anton Larson, 313 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Price:  $15.00     Size:  4 and 3/16 x 6 and 7/16″.

Myrtle Olson, San Francisco, Circa 1897

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Here’s a Cabinet Card of adorable Myrtle Olson, about seven or eight years old, posed for the photo wearing a plaid dress with long sleeves which are puffed from elbow to shoulder, a white collar and button-top boots.

Myrtle appears to be the daughter of Andrew P. Olson and Lina (Mayrisch) Olson, and is on the 1900 Federal Census, for San Francisco, with her mother (widowed) and older siblings, Bertha, Andrew and Emily.

The photo artist…

The studio address on the back shows 17 1/2 Treat Ave, the name being a little hard to read there; the first guess at it was …?…J. Van der Kaali [?] & Co. But luckily the photographer was found in the 1897 San Francisco city directory with a residence address of 17 Treat Ave, and with name clarified as William Vanderkay. Further verification (with middle initial and double “a” in Kaay, matching the stamp on the card) appears in the 1901 city directory for William J. van der Kaay, showing an address of 629 Union. Both directories list his occupation as photographer.

Cabinet Card, Circa 1897. Photographer:  William J. Van Der Kaay & Co. 

Availability Status:  SOLD.     Size:  4 and 1/4 x 6 and 1/4.”

Sources:  Year: 1900; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 107; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0292; FHL microfilm: 1240107.

“Lina Olsen.” Ancestry.com. California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985

Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory, 1897. p. 1712. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989.

Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory, 1901. p.1796. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989.

Frederick Russell Pope

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Cabinet Card, circa 1896. Photographer:  Duryea, Brooklyn, New York.

Price:  $20.00

Cabinet Card showing a beautiful photo of young Frederick Russell Pope, estimated age about four years old, taken by the Duryea photography studio, Brooklyn, New York. Russell was born May 25, 1892, in Brooklyn, according to his passport application made twenty-three years later. He is dressed and with hairstyle in the mode of the day, when it was common for young boys to be outfitted in what we today would just think of as girls’ clothing, and with longer haircut, shoulder length in this photo. The outfit is a plaid, pleated skirt; white blouse with scalloped lace edging, a ruffled collar and cuffs that turn up as far as the elbow; and a large light-colored plaid ruffled bow at the neck.

Here is Russell’s photo from his passport application:  a handsome young man at age 25. The passport shows his residence as 412 Avenue C, Brooklyn; that he was applying for the passport to travel to Germany and Switzerland, to reside abroad temporarily for about a year; and that his occupation was “Student & Teacher.”

Frederick R Pope Passport App Photo

Russell’s parents are William Pope and Annie Long, both born in England. He married M. Irene Decker, and he died July 16, 1940 in Greensboro, North Carolina, at age 48 (always sad to see the death certificates of people we feel we just got to know slightly through their photos, especially when the person dies young or relatively young.) The death cert shows he was a teacher, and residing at Guilford College, NC.

The 1930 Federal Census for White Plains, NY shows Russell, wife Irene and their three daughters, Ethel, Virginia and Joyce. Russell’s occupation on this census is Professor at “New York University” which may not have been the actual university name.

As to the photographer, there is more than one possibility for this last name in Brooklyn. We’ll do more research and update here asap.

Sources:  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 277; Volume #: Roll 0277 – Certificates: 11501-11900, 20 Nov 1915-30 Nov 1915 (Ancestry.com)

North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina. (Ancestry.com)

Year: 1930; Census Place: White Plains, Westchester, New York; Roll: 1666; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0370; Image: 408.0; FHL microfilm: 2341400

Family Portrait By J. R. Johnson

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Cabinet Card, circa 1880s – 1890s. Possible photographer:  J. R. Johnson. Possible location California.

Price:  $6.00

The fourth of four Cabinet Cards found in the small Soquel, CA antique and vintage shop, and it’s possible they may have come from the same family, but unknown. There is no photographer printing or stamp on the front or back but there is a name on the back, (above the unfortunate tear) possibly a signature which shows  “J. R. Johnson.”  I think this may be the photographer’s name rather than the name of the father or son in the photo, or person it was given to. The odds are stacked against for this one in finding i.d. – common last name, first initials only, no location. But it’s a wonderful photo, even though the faces of the three, especially the mom and son, are very light. The photo shows a young couple, and their probably five or six-year old son. The man is seated on a wooden chair with his around around his son, the woman standing with her hand on her husband’s shoulder, and the boy standing next to his dad with his hand resting on the dad’s crossed leg:  a typical family pose of the day. Some interesting details to pick out in this photo are the woman’s rather tight-fitting gloves; the fact that she holds probably a white handkerchief in her left hand which seems a little out of keeping with her black or dark very stylish dress; the boy’s woolen sailor suit (wonderful sailor design stitching) with cap, high button boots and his toy rifle (or possibly a real one or maybe just the photographer’s prop); the man’s jacket and vest in subtle plaid and his bow tie of a different plaid material…. And it looks like this photo was taken outdoors in front of a photographer’s backdrop of a city park. But all in all, a beautiful family photo.