When I first viewed this photograph, I immediately thought about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The barefoot little boy is wearing overalls sans shirt and a straw hat while holding a fishing rod and a pail for his catch. A fishing net lies on the floor in front of him. The young boy’s name is written on the reverse of the photograph. His name is “Ralph Griffith”. His story is tragic. He was born in 1899 in Henderson, Kentucky. He appears with his family in the 1900 US census. He lived in Henderson with his father H. E. Griffith (age 30), his mother Hattie (age 29), his sister Eugenia (age 4), and his maternal grandmother Josephine Dunning. His father is listed as a physician. The 1910 US census shows a newly constituted family constellation. Grandma Dunning was the new head of household and Ralph was also living with his mother, sister, and two lodgers. I was unable to determine what happened to Ralph’s father. In 19r14 Ralph died at the age of fourteen. His cause of death, listed on his death certificate, was diabetes mellitus. He was buried in Fernwood Cemetery. The 1920 census found Ralph’s mother living with his sister in Henderson. Hattie was working in the life insurance field while sister Eugenia was a public school teacher. The censuses tell the sad story of the dissolution of a family. This photograph was produced by the Muller studio in Henderson, Kentucky. George R. Muller was born in Ohio in 1853 and was of German extractiton. He and his family appear in the 1910 US census. He was married to Pauline Muller (age 52) and he and his wife lived with their daughter, Jessie Lee (age 19). The census listed his occupation as photographer. The Bulletin of Photography (1923) announced the sale of his studio in Henderson.
Boston was known for a lot of things at the turn of the century, but fly fishing was probably not one of those things. Fly fishing on the Thames River wasn’t likely a destination vacation. This photograph features a handsome gentleman who appears dressed for an adventure. He is wearing a hat with fishing lures hooked into it. He is also wearing a tie, tucked into his shirt. The gentleman was photographed by McCormick, who had a studio located in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Directory (1873) lists a John L. McCormick who operated as a photographer in Boston. The 1880 United States Census finds McCormick (age 32)living in Boston and married to Elizabeth McCormick (age 26). He is listed as a photographer. The 1900 census does not list his occupation but reports that the couple were living with their five children and an eighteen year-old female servant (nanny?). The 1910 census includes McCormick, but once again, does not list his occupation.