Family On Porch

Old photo, circa 1900 – 1910’s.

Price:  $5.00             Size:  4 and 1/2 x 2 and 7/16″

Nice gingerbread detail on this porch – clearly a family is gathered here, though we don’t have any names or even a location on the back. The woman on our right in the dark dress is the mom and possibly the man in front of them is the dad. Then we’ve got a grandmother or two, or perhaps a great-aunt and then a couple of men in conversation, maybe a neighbor has stopped by….I had picked up this photo thinking it went with some others (but probably not) that were loose in a bin; they were, per the norm, languishing – just hanging around in an antique store. How many millions of old photos are doing the same at this moment? Yes, rather a tragedy, especially to those of us that have actively searched for images of their ancestors; some found (amazing!) and many more not. (There’s always hope.) Back to this lack of i.d., really, it’s a rare person then and now (well, different now with everything digital) that always identified the back of a photo. (It is tedious, for sure.) But even unidentified it’s still good. We can get a sense of, certainly fashion, including house fashion (i.e. our Victorian gingerbread here with that beautifully tall door) and that can be important to historians and collectors. (You bet, you can get deep in research detail – those white shoes the mom and daughters are wearing, for instance, and their nearly identical hairstyles). But good also, for just life the way it used to be…..in what we now (laughably) think of as a simpler time.

Couple With Towle’s Log Cabin Display

Old photo, white border. Circa 1910’s. 

Price:  $20.00           Size:  4 and 1/16 x 2 and 3/8″

There may be some historical interest for this photo for any researchers or collectors of Towle’s Log Cabin Syrup items; we’re not finding anything similar online…..

In starting research for this one, I was surprised to find the Log Cabin brand of syrup still being sold. (I always go right for the real thing, apparently blocking all others from vision. And yes, I know, this makes me sound like a snob, 😉 especially in light of the absurd store prices we’re up against today). Thinking back, growing up in the ’60’s, our cupboard usually contained Mrs. Butterworth’s (we liked the bottle) and sometimes Log Cabin, but at some point, someone (maybe an uncle and probably not till I was in high school), introduced us to actual maple syrup (from trees!) and well, why would you want anything else? (Ha, memories, as an adult, of going out for breakfast and sneaking in syrup from home, and later, of a great place that my husband and I used to drive down to, in Carmel Valley, CA – The Wagon Wheel. Real maple syrup available upon request, still for just an extra dollar.)

About Towle’s

Towle’s was started in 1888 in St. Paul, Minnesota by grocer, Patrick Joseph Towle, and bought out by General Foods in 1927. They initially sold their log cabin syrup in a tall metal can and shortly thereafter in that iconic log-cabin-shaped container. In addition, they manufactured other syrup brands, as well as other related products. For much more about them, see this article by author Matthew Thomas. (Check out his link within the link. Note:  Even the original recipe for log cabin maple syrup may not have been pure maple.)

Our photo….

A couple, maybe in their twenties, are sitting on a porch; the woman backed up to one of the porch posts and the man with his elbow resting on a 3-D Towle’s Log Cabin display. An axe and hammer, and these both appear to be real tools, lean against the little cabin. We can see houses across the street, so the area seems to be residential. Now, it’s possible that this was a general or hardware store with this display set up, and the gentlemen has just bought these tools – but in typing this scenario, it sounds far-fetched, the display would be subjected to the weather, for one. This makes us wonder if the couple isn’t somehow connected to the Towle family….Or, the gentleman could have been a new distributor of the syrup and had added the two props for picture-taking purposes.

Advertisements in old newspapers abound; here are two:

From The Tacoma Daily Ledger, November 23, 1890, an ad touting Towle’s “Log Cabin” maple syrup as absolutely pure, unadulterated and without added glucose, though, if you read with skepticism, you’ll understand that this ad never definitively says that it’s 100% maple syrup.

And from The Oregon Daily Journal, September 27, 1912:

Sources:  Thomas, Matthew. (2017, August 31). “When Towle’s Log Cabin Was a Maple Syrup Company.”maplesyruphistory.com. Accessed March 2, 2024.

“A Card to the Public.” The Tacoma Daily Ledger (Tacoma, Washington). November 23, 1890. Sunday, p. 7. (Newspapers.com).

“Record-Breaking Shipment of Towle’s Log Cabin Syrup.” The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, Oregon). September 27, 1912. Friday, p. 15. (Newspapers.com).

A Leap Year Suggestion

Divided back, unused postcard. Publisher unknown. Series or number 887. Made in the U. S. A. Circa mid-1910’s. 

Price:  $12.00

Cute children from a bygone era (we’re thinking 1790’s – 1810’s). A court ball gown for the girl, the boy in tailcoat and trousers with heel straps. Of course, not historically accurate – the artist just tying in the ball attire idea with the gent wanting to “get the ball rolling”.

A Leap Year Suggestion….

“Wonder why you don’t start somethin’

This is leap year don’t you see

If you start the ball a-rollin’

You’ll get lots of help from me.”

Today is “leap day” in leap year of 2024. The next will be in 2028. They arrive every four years, with some exceptions. The estimated date for this card comes from an estimate of 1916 on another card of the same design, currently online.

Source:  Leap year. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_year (accessed February 29, 2024).

Couple On Porch

Old photo, white border, circa early 1920’s.

Price:  $4.00           Size:  2 and 3/8 x 4 and 1/4″

We’re continuing a short couple theme, no names on the back of this one. I’m guessing the ’20s due to the cloche-style hat the woman is wearing, though it could have been earlier. Estimating dates from clothing, footwear and hairstyles can be really time-consuming, unless something specifically jumps out to pinpoint, or you’re already an expert or close-enough to one. Alas, I’m not. What was the moment? Obviously, he likes her, but she has that skeptical, “nobody’s fool” look. Nice porch columns displayed here – quite detailed and with that bit of gingerbread trim at the top.

Frank and Girlfriend, 1919

Old photo, 1919.

Availability Status:  SOLD                Size:  2 and 3/8 x 4 and 1/4″

Probably when I found this one (it was floating loose in a bin), I thought I’d be able to read the surname for Frank. Hmmm, no, not getting it. (My own scribble is just as bad.) But they’re a cute couple. (We’re on a short “couple theme” – a continuance of Valentine’s Day). At least, I think they’re a couple – no certainty there, either. But it’s a nice, “We were here….standing on this street….in the summer of 1919” photo. It would have been the summer after the end of the “Great War.” It’s a tree-lined residential road; you can see the utility pole and barely make out an old street lamp. There are train tracks, for a trolley one would guess, but we don’t notice any overhead cables, so maybe the tracks are a remnant from our horse-drawn car days, or maybe they’re old tracks, no longer used. That’s probably an old Model T in the distance (if you were betting you’d play those odds). Through the open wooden gate, we see a woman carrying something, potatoes maybe, on her way back from the garden or cellar storage.

The young woman in the photo – she’s beautiful, hair pulled up, appearing here in a long-sleeved white blouse with black cuffs (great style, yes, but think how practical that is) and in a striped, high-waisted skirt with big front pockets. Nothing fancy but it never needs to be. And Frank – he’s got that, “knows what he wants out of life” look. That direct gaze, a hint of sadness in the smile (did he lose an older brother in the war?), the confident, kind of brash stance, the backwards cap, that proprietary arm around his girl. We’re off with them, in spirit, just for a moment, to each of the many and wherever, those many possibilities led.

Cupid’s Diary

Divided back, embossed postcard. Postmarked February 7, 1914 from Pueblo, Colorado. Copyright 1909, H. or K.[?] Wessler. Publisher:  S. L. & Co. 

Price:  $10.00

Publisher, S. L. & Co. is Sigmund Langsdorf & Co.

This card, another in our Alice Ellison Collection, was one in a series that told the story of Cupid’s day – sharpening arrows, mailing valentines and breaking his bow after all the work was done. In ours, Cupid is looking quite tired, not to mention a little beat up, so the card above must have been the last one, or second to last, in the set.

“His spoils were great,

But sad to tell,

Poor Cupids’ suffered

Just as well.”

Addressed to:   “Mr. J. M. Ellison, 730 P. St., Sacramento, Calif.”

The sender wrote:  “Dear Papa. It snowed here last night. We are all well and hope you are to. It will soon be valentine day so I am sending you a Valentine card. from Henrietta Ellison. [?] got me a new pair of shoes.”

A Valentine’s Lament

Divided back, embossed, unused postcard. Circa 1910s. Publisher:  Whitney Made, Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Price:  $7.00

“O, Why Isn’t She Always Here”

A dejected-looking boy and his dog are missing their Valentine. (Sob!) A cute card, and another in our Alice Ellison Collection, this one from Louise to Henrietta.

Roses For My Valentine

Divided back, embossed, unused postcard. Printed in Germany. Valentine Postcard Series No. 405. Publisher unknown. Circa 1907 – 1914.

Price:  $1.00

Valentine Greetings…..

To Miss Ella Ellison from Mary Strauch.

One from our Alice Ellison Collection. (A group of about 125 cards; they’re not all up on the website yet.) This one’s a little beat up and with a coffee stain at the top but contains a publisher mystery. We’ve seen this logo before, a capital G inside a rectangular artist’s palette with brushes attached, but haven’t found proof of the company name, to date.

Vivian Mack’s Friend, Bunnie, Schoolcraft, Michigan

Divided back postcard. Postmarked November 3, 1912 from Schoolcraft, Michigan.

Price:  $15.00

The very cute, “Bunnie,” squinting a little from the sun, posing in front of a porch trellis that is covered in two different leafy vines. (One is heart-shaped, the other, something else.) She’s on her way somewhere (or just back from) – we’re playing detective here – noted because of the small purse she holds in her left hand. Her outfit of skirt and blouse has a short scalloped-edge, “curtained” layer:  This piece is called a peplum, and was created (in various styles) to add a little flair to the hips, thereby accentuating the waist – in other words, to bring back just a little of that “hourglass” look that had been previously so popular in women’s fashion.

From TextileGlossary.com:

“The peplum can be created using various techniques, such as pleating, gathering, or ruffling fabric. It can be attached to the bodice of a garment, creating a seamless transition from the waistline, or it can be a separate piece that is sown onto the waist. The length of the peplum can vary, ranging from a subtle and short flounce to a dramatic and floor-length extension.”

Peplum examples in some of the images below, from a Google image search:

Back to our postcard:

Addressed to:   “Miss Vivian Mack, Dexter Michigan.”

Well, if only life were always that easy! Dexter, Michigan (northwest of Ann Arbor, in Washtenaw County) must have been a pretty small town in 1912 – no street or rural route was needed to get this card to its intended. (Indeed, the census taker for Dexter in 1910 had enumerated 542 persons.) Established as a village in 1830, Dexter was not incorporated as a city until 2014. As of 2020 the population was about 4500. Schoolcraft, by the way, is on the other side of the state, south of Kalamazoo.

The sender wrote:  “Dearest Mimmie :- Don’t think that I have forgotten you or that your birthday comes Sunday. I hope you will have a lovely Birthday. What did you do Halloween? Merle had a party. Everybody in S. is pretty well but Papa, who has a broken leg. Hope I will hear from you soon – Bunnie.”

Note that Bunnie has embellished three of the capital letters in the address – a nice birthday touch.

Vivian Mack

Vivian Irene Mack was born in Rodney, Ontario, Canada November 3, 1896. Investigating further, we were so sorry to learn that she had died in January of 1920, at age 23 (pneumonia with heart complications). Vivian, (and we’re sorry we don’t have a picture of her) was the daughter of the Rev. Henry Mack and Annie Sine. She had married Robert J. Ernst on April 12, 1919.

Sources:  Dexter, Michigan. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexter,_Michigan (accessed February 11, 2024).

Year: 1900; Census Place: Hadley, Lapeer, Michigan; Roll: 724; Page: 7; Enumeration District: 0037. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Dexter, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: T624_677; Pages 1A – 17B; Enumeration District: 0139; FHL microfilm: 1374690. (Ancestry.com).

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 146; Film Description: 1919 Ontonagon-1919 Wayne. (Ancestry.com).

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/70977302/vivian_irene-ernst: accessed February 11, 2024), memorial page for Vivian Irene Mack Ernst (–), Find a Grave Memorial ID 70977302, citing Forest Lawn Cemetery, Dexter, Washtenaw County, Michigan, USA; Maintained by Anonymous (contributor 47412861).

“What is ‘Peplum’ – Definition & Explanation.” January 19, 2023, https://www.textileglossary.com/terms/peplum.html. (Accessed February 13, 2024.)

Google.com search, “images of peplums in 1910s.” (Accessed February 13, 2024.)

Chicago Photographer Zacharias K. Urbanowicz

Zacharias K. Urbanowicz (1873 – 1962) Chicago, Illinois photographer from at least 1910 – 1940. See the prior post for an early example of his work. The following is a rough time-line from online records:

1890 – Zacharias Urbanowicz. Departure from Hamburg, Deutschland (Germany) May 30, 1890. Ship name, Scandia. Age 18. Arrival New York, U.S.A. June 10, 1890.

1896 – Became a naturalized U. S. citizen in 1896 according to the 1920 census.

1900 – Federal Census not found.

1910 – Federal Census. Zacharias K. Urbanowicz. 4841 S. Ashland Ave. Proprietor of photo studio. Living with stepfather, John Zilgiewicz and mother, Domcoly[?]. Also in household are boarders, Joseph Kozlowski and Gabriel[?] Torozynski[?], both are photographers working from a studio, most likely working with Urbanowicz. All are listed to be native Russian-Lithuanian. (Later records show Poland for Zacharias.)

1916 – No record found for Zacharias Urbanowicz. The 4841 S. Ashland Ave. shows photographer, Walter J. Narozny. Possibly associated with Urbanowicz.

1920 – Federal Census. Zachary Urbanowicz, address 4852 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago. Photographer (own account). Living with him are his mother and stepfather. All three on this record show born in Poland. The prior address of 4841 S. Ashland is not recorded on this census.

1921 – approximate year of marriage to Veronica Mackiewicz, from the 1930 census.

1922 – The following was a large ad appearing in the Lithuanian newspaper, Draugas, showing Z. K. Urbanowicz and M. Zalgewicze, partners in the photography business at 4852 S. Ashland Ave:

Translated from Google and with the help of Wikipedia:

“City by the lake for Lithuanians. Specialists – photographers. We photograph groups, weddings, funerals, and just about any individual. Since tomorrow is the children’s first communion, the prices are greatly reduced. We perform the work quickly and responsibly. Owners Z. K. Urbanowicz & M. Zalgewicze.”

1930 – Federal Census. Zachary Urbanowicz. Address 8907 Commercial Ave., Chicago. Photographer (own account). With him on this record are his stepfather and mother. Also at same address are a Leo and Irene Dudeck and son, Richard and a Chester Urbanowicz, photographer (own account).

1940 – Federal Census. Zachary Urbanowicz. Address 8907 Commercial Ave., Chicago. Shoe salesman. Zachary and wife, Veronica are living with Veronica’s daughter from her first marriage, Leona. Also at this address (renting) are Leo Dudeck and family and Chester Urbanowicz and wife, Betty. Chester is listed as photographer (own account) at studio.

1964 – Zachary Urbanowicz died February 28, 1964, age 92. See the Find A Grave link in Sources, below, which contains his obituary showing Chester, Leone and Irene are step-children.

______________________________________________________________________

Sources:  Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 067 B; Page: 523; Microfilm No.: K_1741. (Ancestry.com).

United States Government. 1890 New York Ship’s Arrivals Records Index (Rolls #543-#560, Jan. 2, 1890 to Dec. 30, 1890). Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Chicago Ward 29, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_275; Page: 11a; Enumeration District: 1570; FHL microfilm: 1374288. (Ancestry.com).

Association News (Photographer’s Association of America),Vol. 3, No. 8, September 1916, p. 342. (Google.com book search).

Year: 1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 29, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_345; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 1760. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1930; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Page: 32A; Enumeration District: 2456; FHL microfilm: 2340167. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00941; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 103-658. (Ancestry.com).

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/256539063/zachary-urbanowicz: accessed February 9, 2024), memorial page for Zachary Urbanowicz (–), Find a Grave Memorial ID 256539063, citing Saint Casimir Catholic Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA; Maintained by Bruce Weirauch (contributor 47898263).