Detroit Woman By Marratt

Cabinet Card, circa 1880s. Photographer:  William Marratt. 131, 133 and 135 Woodward Ave, Detroit, Michigan.

Price:  $7.00

Here’s another Cabinet Card with no writing on the back, but at least we have the location and photographer or studio on this one. See our post on William Marratt. But the subject is a beautiful young lady, a Detroiter, we presume, posing with hands resting on the back of a wooden chair with brocade fabric (I’m guessing brocade). Note the wedding ring on her left hand. She bears a strong resemblance to a friend, which is neither here nor there, but it’s funny how closely someone can resemble someone else….The time frame is probably the 1880s due to the dress style, the type of sleeves (close-fitting) but this is a semi-educated guess from me, after consulting a lovely book from my shelf, Dressed for the Photographer, Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840 – 1900, by author Joan Severa, (a great reference, and I hope I’ve applied the correct interpretation for this photo.)

Young Man With Hat

Cabinet Card. Circa 1880s. Photographer unknown.

Price:  $5.00

No identifying info on this one for either the subject or the photographer, but it’s a nice photo with a nice rural backdrop. The young man wears a sack suit and bow tie, holds an open book in one hand and his low-crowned hat with upturned brim in the other, and by virtue of the fake stonework, gets to strike a casual pose. The headgear might remind one of a parson’s hat because of the short crown but from a quick online search it appears the parson’s hat has a much wider brim.

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 ( : 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. (

Find A Grave, database and images ( : 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 ( : 13 December 2015), John Young Ely, 1897; Burial, Farmington, Oakland, Michigan, United States of America, Oakwood Cemetery; citing record ID 11715471, Find a Grave,

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. 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. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

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

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

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. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

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

A Nice Gentleman, Chicago 1891

A Nice Gentleman, Chicago 1891 cc1A Nice Gentleman, Chicago 1891 cc2

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

Colby & Wilson Cabinet Card Meredith NH cc1Colby & Wilson Cabinet Card Meredith NH cc2

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 ( : 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

Minneapolis Beauty By A Larson cc1Minneapolis Beauty By A Larson cc2

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

Myrtle Olson cc1Myrtle Olson cc2

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.” California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985

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

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