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.