An inscription on the reverse of this cabinet card portrait reveals that the subject’s name in Edwin Phelps. The photograph was taken at the Brainerd Photo Company in Rome (Oneida County), New York. Preliminary research tells us a little bit about Mr. Phelps. He was born in Oneida County in 1829. He was married to Amanda Howard (1832-1904). The 1880 census indicates that the couple had three sons living at home with them. He worked as a carpenter during at least four decades. He died in 1902 in Baltimore, Maryland and is buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Camden (Oneida County), New York. The images seen below include a portrait of Phelps taken at a later date than the portrait seen above, and a photograph of Phelps’s gravestone. The photographer that produced this image is Jonathan Millard Brainerd (1851-1926). Brainerd was born in Oneida, New York. After finishing school, Brainerd began working for photographer H. Hovey and after two years the two men became partners in a firm named appropriately Hovey & Brainerd. The business partnership lasted ten years until Brainerd bought out Hovey. Brainerd was married to Sarah C. Knight in 1874. Brainerd’s studios included locations in Rome (112 West Dominick Street) and in Oneida (28 Main Street). He had an interest in public service which is reflected in the three years that he spent as an alderman and his position as treasurer of State Custodial Asylum. He died in Utica, New York and is buried in Rome Cemetery in Rome, New York. His obituary appeared in the Rome Sentinel (1926) and the article included an interview with his colleague, photographer Betty Filchard. She noted that Brainerd was a friend of the famed photography entrepreneur George Eastman, one of the founders of Eastman Kodak. She stated that Brainerd was a genius and had invented a new camera shutter that Eastman had patented under his own name and “broke Jonathan’s heart”.
LATER PORTRAIT OF EDWIN PHELPS
GRAVESTONE OF EDWIN PHELPS
PORTRAIT OF JONATHAN MILLARD BRAINERD