The scene in this Real Photo Postcard is of three women, ready for travel, who are seated in a wagon that is hitched to a team of light-colored horses; a gentleman standing at the horses heads, probably steadying the team so the shot can be taken; and in the immediate background, a high wooden fence and beautiful barn. (Photos of old barns now immediately remind me of the t.v. show Barnwood Builders – Mark Bowe and his crew restoring old log cabins and barns or re-purposing the old logs. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.) And the expressions of the women are wonderfully varied. It’s a great shot, despite a little blurriness at the bottom center. And, if you read on, you will see that the photographer was likely not set up professionally; therefor, this photo might have some relation to the photo artist’s family or friends. The back of the card shows the stamp:
“Photo By Jessie Westbrook, Defiance, Iowa.”
You go, Jessie girl!
So, Jessie does not show up at all in city directories as a photographer; nor do any of the State or Federal Census records show her listed as such. This is the first time we’ve run across a female photographer.
The 1910 Federal Census for Defiance, Shelby County, Iowa, shows Jessie, born Iowa, about 1885, living with parents Charles H. and Maria Westbrook. Charles’ occupation is Pharmacist. Jessie’s occupation is Proof Reader in a printing office. Charles was born in Pennsylvania, and Maria born in New York.
The 1915 State Census for Defiance has Jessie M. Westbrook, no occupation listed, church affiliation Methodist. Entries on the 1915 are on separate cards, but she’s presumably still living with her parents.
The 1920 reveals she is still single, living with her parents in Defiance. Her occupation on the 1920 is listed as Operator, the rest is hard to read (looks like Register).
By 1925 Jessie is married to William Uptegrove, who was born about 1864 in Missouri. They’re living in Portsmouth, Shelby County, Iowa. His parents are Edward L. Uptegrove and Elizabeth C. McKinsey. Jessie’s mother’s maiden name is Ashton. (How heavenly are these 1925 Iowa State Census records! They even include the parents’ place of marriage.)
We wonder if there is any more photography out there by Jessie Westbrook…Oh, well lo and behold, I do have one more by her. See the next post. And did she still do photography after she got married? I like to think yes.
On one last note: Playle.com estimates this particular style of postcard back header as being from about 1914 to 1917.
Divided back, unused Real Photo Postcard. Photographer: Jessie Westbrook. Circa 1914 – 1917.
Sources: Year: 1910; Census Place: Union, Shelby, Iowa; Roll: T624_423; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0177; FHL microfilm: 1374436. (Ancestry.com)
1915 State Census, Defiance, Iowa. Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925
Year: 1920; Census Place: Union, Shelby, Iowa; Roll: T625_513; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 196; Image: 840. (Ancestry.com)
1925 State Census, Portsmouth, Iowa. Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925
“Real Photo Postcard Stamp Backs – Unknown Manufacturers.” Playle.com. (Accessed April 12, 2016.)