J. J. Mahoney, Trainmaster, Chicago & Alton Railroad

Business card. Circa 1900 – 1910, but see the comment below this post.

Price:  $15.00               Size:  About 3 and 5/8 x 2 and 1/4″

A nice piece of history involving the Chicago & Alton Railroad:  the business card for Trainmaster, J. J. Mahoney. What’s a trainmaster you might ask? Here’s a definition from the Houston Chronical:

“The railroad industry employs many professionals that ensure the safety of trains, their passengers and cargo. A trainmaster oversees the safe departure and arrival of trains at a specific train terminal. They work with yardmasters, conductors and engineers to ensure trains arrive and depart in a timely manner. While other railroad professionals work outside on the train or in the railway yard, trainmasters spend a large majority of their time indoors communicating with staff on the trains.”

So, we did some web searching (per usual) for the full name of our trainmaster, but no luck. However, we did find him mentioned in the publication Railway Age Gazette, that was put out for the first half of the year, 1910:

“J. J. Mahoney, assistant superintendent of the Chicago & Alton at Bloomington, Ill., has been appointed superintendent of transportation of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, with office at Newton, Kan. The office of assistant superintendent of the Alton at Bloomington has been abolished.”

And we’ll add this post to our Unusual Occupations category, not that trainmaster is necessarily so unusual but rather in the probability that many (like myself until now) have never heard of this particular job title.

Sources:  Alton Railroad. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alton_Railroad (accessed September 22, 2017).

Michael, Elvis, “What Is A Railroad Trainmaster?” Houston Chronical. http://work.chron.com/railroad-trainmaster-20446.html (accessed September 30, 2017).

Railway Age Gazette, January 1 – June 30, 1910, Vol. 48, no. 13. p. 916. (Google eBook).

Railbirds, Kent, 1925

Old photo, Kent, 1925.

Price:  $2.00               Size:  4 and 3/8 x 2 and 3/4″

I thought railbirds would be railroad workers, but no. The definition of railbird from Dictionary.com is:

Noun, informal

  1.  a horse-racing fan who watches racing or workouts from the railing or along the track.
  2. any kibitzer or self-stylized critic or expert

Origin:  1890-95, Americanism; rail + bird in sense of “frequenter,” as in jailbird, yardbird.

The term is also used today for billiards and poker spectators. But the estimated time frame for the word origin, 1890 – 1895, seems accurate at least as far as old newspaper mentions go. Prior to 1890 – ’91 one can find many articles and clips on an actual bird called a railbird (rail-bird, rail bird). From the Reading Times, 1869:

“Railbirds have been less numerous this season on the Delaware marshes….”

And from the Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph, 1879, a good description of the feathered ones:

Which Kent?

Back to the photo….Kent, 1925, but which Kent? Ohio….England….or other? And it could have been taken at a horse racing event, either that or it was just a clever caption, because the guys (all but one) are perched (back to the bird theme, no pun intended) on an outdoor railing. We can read wording behind them that says “Billiards.” And there’s some lettering on the awning, but not enough to figure out a business name. But the guys’ boots…almost all the same, that makes it seem like they were workers of some type.

Sources:  railbird. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/railbird. (accessed September 19, 2017).

Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) October 13, 1869. Wednesday, p. 2 (Newspapers.com)

“English Rail-Birds in Monroe County.” Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph (Ashtabula, Ohio) December 5, 1879. Friday, p. 4.

Lingering In La Porte, 1917

Old photo, August, 1917, La Porte, Indiana.

Price:  $4.00           Size:  3 and 1/4 x 2 and 1/4″

La Porte, 1917…..

A group of guys seated (and one standing) around a corner shop window. You can just barely see the image of the photographer in the window’s reflection. What was the story with this photo? Were the men waiting for the shop to open, waiting for public transportation, were they day-workers waiting to get hired, or maybe they were waiting for their wives to finish shopping (ha ha) or other….? We don’t know, but at least we have the stamp on the reverse showing:

“Developed and Printed at Canfield’s Pharmacy. No. 12,  Aug 6 1917. La Porte, Indiana. The Kodak Store.”

Bub At Shaft House, Houghton, 1937

Photo, Autumn 1937, Houghton, Michigan

Price:  $6.00       Size:  2 and 3/4 x 4 and 1/2″

Another for Copper Country….

Just when I was about to give up looking for a match for this mine shaft, I came across an old photo and postcard. See Mindat’s No. 1 Shaft, Isle Royale Mine. True, the structure showing in that photo is too far in the background to pick out much beyond its outline, but that, along with the old postcard captioned,  “Houghton Mich., Rock House, Isle Royal Mine”  (appearing twice in the Google image search, below) seems to verify the i.d. of the mine, or if not verify, then drive up really close to it 😉 verification-wise, that is. Bear in mind that the postcard was colored, and also (per its reverse) was printed in Germany, for sale in the U. S., so circa 1907 – 1914, and our photo is from 1937, so there could have been some changes by the latter date, then too, any difference we might perceive could be due to the different angle. (i.e. where’s the chimney on the structure on the far left?)

On some last notes….

“Bub” wasn’t found in records, but it’s always worth a quick search; sometimes one gets lucky. And….what was set on top of our photo (or what was it set in) to give it the odd, sort of interior frame? The shape looks familiar, like we could just put our finger on it, but not quite.

Sources:  Isle Royale No. 1 Shaft, Isle Royal Mines, Houghton, Houghton Co., Michigan, USA. https://www.mindat.org/loc-125598.html. (accessed September 10, 2017).

Google.com search for “images of postcards of Isle Royale Mine Houghton MI.” (accessed September 10, 2017).

Tamarack Shaft And Rock House, Calumet, Michigan

Divided back, used postcard. Postmarked October 5, 1910 from Calumet, Michigan. Publisher:  Yellow Front Curio Store, Houghton, Michigan. Made in Germany. Series or number:  E10586. Printer:  S L & Co.

Price:  $10.00

I had wanted to get this one up for Labor Day, but ran out of time…It shows a group of miners (and some children in the background) in front of what should be the #2 shaft of the Tamarack mine. The Tamarack ran from 1882 until it was sold in 1917 to Calumet & Hecla, the giant of a company that Tamarack had “drilled under” so to speak, to access part of the Calument Conglomerate, which had been one of the richest copper loads in the world. See the above link for a full explanation.

Teenage miners

Below, a photo taken at the Tamarack, said to be from 1905. The young men front left look to be in their teens still, maybe sixteen, or so. Out of curiosity, this led me to a quick look at the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census records for Calumet. The 1900 shows quite a number of fourteen to sixteen-year-olds, and even a twelve-year-old, Finnish immigrant, John Bortenen. By 1910, in Calumet, there are only two miners that are age sixteen or under from the census:  One of these two entries is for a young lady, fourteen-year-old Myrtle Boase, occupation miner, in the copper mining industry. (Interesting!)

Getting back to the postcard – the sender wrote:

“Dear Isabel:  Did you send my little blue Spalding books? I called at Katerines to day and saw Anabel and Katherine. Please send any letters that come addressed to me dear. Father[?]”

Addressed to:   “Miss Isabel Farrand, 191 Albion St, Houghton Mich.”

From the 1910 census for Houghton, Michigan, Isabel Farrand, is about twelve, daughter of Royal and Jessie Farrand. Was Royal a coal miner? No, his occupation is listed as physician. Anabel and Katherine are most likely cousins to Isabel:  Isabel’s marriage record to Newton Wagner in 1922, Houghton, MI, shows that her mother’s maiden name is MacNaughton. Annabel and Catherine MacNaughton, ages eight and twelve, respectively, are on the 1910 census in Calumet. They have an older brother, Archibald, age sixteen. The parents of the three are John and Rosella MacNaughton. John MacNaughton’s occupation is superintendent at rock houses. And we note that Archie is not working, a testament to the fact that his dad’s job brings in more income than a miner’s wage.

Sources:  Tamarack. http://www.geo.mtu.edu/KeweenawGeoheritage/CalumetGeosites/Tamarack.html. (accessed September 8, 2017).

John Bortenen. Year: 1900; Census Place: Calumet, Houghton, Michigan; Roll: 714; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0174; FHL microfilm: 1240714. (Ancestry.com)

Myrtle I. Boase. Year: 1910; Census Place: Calumet, Houghton, Michigan; Roll: T624_646; Page: 27A; Enumeration District: 0105; FHL microfilm: 1374659. (Ancestry.com)

“File:TamarackMiners CopperCountryMI sepia.jpg.” n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TamarackMiners_CopperCountryMI_sepia.jpg. (accessed September 4, 2017).

Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics. (Ancestry.com)

MacNaughton family. Year: 1910; Census Place: Calumet, Houghton, Michigan; Roll: T624_646; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0104; FHL microfilm: 1374659. (Ancestry.com)

Company Photo, Covina, California, 1912

Old photo, January 10, 1912. Covina, California. Photographer unknown.

Price:  $20.00        Size including matting:  About 12 x 10″

In honor of American workers, for Labor Day….

Well, there’s actually no guarantee for this being a company photo, but it’s maybe a good guess. We definitely have a date and place from the writing on the back:  February 10, 1912, Covina, California. Of course, that’s neither here, nor there, in the question. But what might make one think this is a group of employees, with maybe a boss or two in there, are the aprons some of the girls and guys are wearing, and the hand punch on a string, around the neck of the young man, third from left, front row. Could this be a photo from The Stronghold, a denim company out of Los Angeles, established 1895? That’s probably stretching it, but it is interesting to see The Stronghold label on the guy’s overalls, far left. But what is he holding up in his left hand?

Tempy (Franklin) Gentry And Carrie Gentry

Photo, Temperance Gentry and granddaughter, Carrie. Circa 1905. Photographer unknown. Possible location:  Shelton, NC.

Price:  $15.00           Size including matting:  5 x 7 and 1/4″

These are kin (I have southern roots so the vernacular comes natural) to Cay Ricker from the prior post (Cay, at least the name appears to be written as such) is cousin to Lula Gentry. Lula is possibly Sara Lula Ricker who marries Starling R. Gentry. Their daughter is Carrie Gentry who marries Thomas William Tribell. Carrie is the little girl in this photo, with her grandmother, Temperance Franklin who married Andrew Jackson Gentry. We were lucky to find all three photos with names and relationships on the back of each. Tempy, is written here as “Tempty” and maybe she was called both, we wouldn’t know, but Tempy seems to have been a common nickname for Temperance, according to many other family trees. And it’s a beautiful photo of two lovely ladies, seated outside, and posing for the camera. Carrie holds what looks to be a round fan.

Carrie, born June 13, 1900, in White Rock, North Carolina, is the daughter of Starling R. Gentry and Sarah Lula Ricker.

Tempy was born Tennessee, September 1852, according to the 1900 Federal Census for Shelton, Laurel Township, Madison County, North Carolina. She appears there with her husband, Andrew Gentry and six of their children. Next door, or at least, next on the census taker’s entries, were three other Gentry families, including Carrie’s immediate family, though Carrie is not listed there, she would have been one day old. (By, the way, Tempy’s husband, was the enumerator of this census.) Tempy, per Ancestry trees, is the daughter of David Franklin and Rhoda Shelton.

Sources:  Register of Deeds. North Carolina Birth Indexes. Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina State Archives. Microfilm. (Ancestry.com)

Year: 1900; Census Place: Shelton Laurel, Madison, North Carolina; Roll: 1205; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0074; FHL microfilm: 1241205. (Ancestry.com)

Cay Ricker, Mobile, Alabama

Oval photo of Cay Ricker. Circa 1908 – 1909. Brown’s Art Studio. Mobile, Alabama.

Price:  $15.00          Size including cardboard matting:  About 3 and 1/2 x 7″

An oval portrait of a handsome young man, identified on the back as ,  “Cay Ricker, cousin of Lula Gentry.”   His jacket has a military look to it. (This seemed a natural segue from the prior post. 😉 ) The photography studio name and location is embossed on the front of the frame:  Brown’s Art Studio.

Brown’s Art Studio was found in city directories in 1908 at 21 N. Conception. The 1909 shows this address under photographer name J. F. Brown.

Cay’s ancestry is more of a puzzle, but his cousin Lula is possibly the Sarah Lula Ricker who married Starling R. Gentry (parents of Carrie Gentry, the little girl in the next post). Cay, if we’re reading it correctly from the back of the photo, could be a middle name (very common in the Southern states) or a nickname.

Sources:  Delchamps’ Greater Mobile City Directory, 1908. p. 938. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Delchamps’ Greater Mobile City Directory, 1909. p. 981. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Somebody’s Angel

Mini-photo, Fort Dodge, Iowa. Circa 1906.

Price:  $10.00          Size:  About 1 and 1/4 x 1 and 3/4″

Shades of decades past…

Here’s a miniature photo of an unknown little boy, with blonde hair and an angel face, about five years old. He’s seated in a child’s wooden chair (with carved backrest) and is wearing a dark, double-breasted jacket. For me, the jacket has sort of a military appearance, and reminds me of Civil War days, though, of course, this would have been taken decades later. Photo by:  The Stamp Gallery, 610 1/2 Central Ave., Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The Stamp Gallery, evidently short, but sweet

The business name, The Stamp Gallery, was not found in any online searches. It’s a nice name, though, The Stamp Gallery, and one presumes it would be in reference to the small size of the images produced. (We have some others that are actually closer to postage stamp size. See the category, Mini Photos.) But though we didn’t find the company name, we did find a photographer name at this 610 1/2 Central Avenue, in 1906, that of May E. Hodge. Later that same year, November 29th to be precise, May (Mary Elizabeth) Hodge marries Manning T. McKenzie. So, most likely, the gallery was not in business very long, but, to me, that makes this little photo rather precious.

Five years earlier, siblings on the 1904 directory

May E. Hodge, manager for O. S. Hodge, boards 721 E. Locust St., 1904 Fort Dodge city directory. Listed in the next entry on the same page is:

Oramel S. Hodge, photographer, 221 1/2 Locust and 200 E. Locust, residence 709 E. Locust.

To find the relationship between the two, we went back to the 1880 Federal Census for Indianola, IA, showing Mary Hodge, born Iowa, about 1873, younger sister of Oramel S. Hodge, born Iowa, about 1870. Their parents are J. D. and Emily (Hinckley) Hodge, and siblings on the 1880 are Luvilla and Eliza.

Sources:  R. L. Polk & Co.’s Fort Dodge City Directory, 1906. p. 110. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Fort Dodge City Directory, 1904. p. 478. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1880; Census Place: Indianola, Warren, Iowa; Roll: 368; Family History Film: 1254368; Page: 377A; Enumeration District: 232. (Ancestry.com)

Ancestry.com. Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1758-1996.

George Gordon Bemis

Set of three:  Two photos size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/4″  and 2 x 6″ and calling card.

Price:  $18.00

Three wonderful finds from Hollister, California:  Formal photography of George Gordon Bemis, as a boy in a sailor suit (name written in pencil on the back) and as a young man in a photo taken by the Bauter photography studio in Antigo, Wisconsin, and lastly, his calling card, showing “G. Gordon Bemis.”

Much can be found online for George Gordon Bemis, born December 2, 1896 in Antigo, Wisconsin, including photos from college yearbooks, WWI Draft registration, census records and a detailed obituary on Find A Grave. The obit states he had married Mary Ross, they had one son, George, Jr., who like his father, became a doctor. G. Gordon Bemis graduated from Harvard with a degree in medicine in 1925. He died in the Bronx, New York October 31, 1982. Backtracking to 1910, the Federal Census taken in Antigo, Wisconsin, shows Gordon with his parents, George M. and Matie E., and sisters Grace M. and Mildred H. His father’s occupation is listed here as timber inspector.

As for the photography studio, we see that it had belonged to photographer Fred W. Bauter, listed on the 1920 census in Antigo, born about 1870. We’ll see if we can find more details for Fred Bauter in an upcoming post.

Sources:  Year: 1910; Census Place: Antigo Ward 1, Langlade, Wisconsin; Roll: T624_1718; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0039; FHL microfilm: 1375731. (Ancestry.com)

Fred W. Bauter. Year: 1920; Census Place: Antigo Ward 2, Langlade, Wisconsin; Roll: T625_1993; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 109

Registration State: Wisconsin; Registration County: Dane; Roll: 1674749. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

Find A Grave Memorial# 114936131. Findagrave.com. (accessed August 28, 2017).