POTRAIT OF AN AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY STANDING IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY

 

 

This vintage photograph offers a glimpse into Texas history and African American history in the Lone Star state. The image features an African American family posing for the camera while standing in front of their house. I found this photograph in Fredericksburg, Texas. The town is located in the Texas hill country and is very close to Johnson City, Texas, the boyhood home of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. A tour of the area reveals similar houses still standing today. This photograph was very likely taken in that locale. The family seen in this image is composed of a father and mother, and their two sons. All four family members are dressed in their sunday best clothing and wearing hats. The family’s dog is included in the picture and even their cat makes a cameo appearance as it walks away from the front porch. This is truly an interesting and historic photograph.

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A TODDLER AND HER BEAUTIFUL AND PROTECTIVE BLACK DOG

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A little girl, likely toddler age, sits on a chair, and looks at the photographer with an expression of dismay. Sitting below the child is a black dog in a protective position. The dog does not seem to be enjoying himself either. The dog has a similar appearance to a Labrador Retriever. Note the unusual and beautiful chair that is occupied by the toddler. Also note the rope on the floor which can be seen in the right side of the image. I wonder if the rope is holding the child in place or the dog in place. The photographer of this photograph is J. P. Eskildsen and his studio was located in Lawler, Iowa. An inscription on the reverse of the photo indicates that the child’s name is Mary Redman. J. Peter Eskildsen was born in Denmark in 1870. He married Emma Schlatter in Lawler (1891). The couple had at least one child. Arthur Eskildsen was born in 1893. J. P. found a path to citizenship in 1895. Research reveals that he may have had additional studios in Iowa besides the one in Lawler (Fredericksburg, Jerico, and Waucoma). Initial investigation found some information about young Mary Redman. She appears in the 1910 US census along with the rest of her family. They Redman’s were living in Stapleton, Iowa. Living in the residence was Mary’s parent’s John W. Redman (born 1860) and Trena M. Redman (born 1867). Also in the home were Mary’s (age 4) siblings; Hazel (age 19), Lee (age 18), Lowman (age 15), and Harold (age 13). The 1920 US census finds the family still living in Stapleton but the household has shrunk to include Mary’s father (worked as a carpenter), sister Hazel (worked as a teacher), and of course Mary (attended school). Mary’s mom likely had passed away and sister Hazel likely took up some parenting duties.

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PORTRAIT OF A TRAIN CONDUCTOR (RAILROAD OF NEW JERSEY)

NJ CONDUCTOR_0001J. C. Sunderlin produced this portrait of a train conductor in full uniform. Sunderlin operated a studio on Main Street in Flemington, New Jersey. The subject of this photograph is wearing a cap that has a plate tag which states “Conductor”. The patches on the lapel of his jacket indicate that he was employed by the “Railroad of New Jersey”. It is likely, but not certain, that this gentleman worked for the Central Railroad of New Jersey. This railway line has its roots in the 1830’s but adopted the Central Railroad name in 1849.  Note this gentleman’s terrific bushy mustache. The photographer, John Corbin Sunderlin was born in 1835 at Fort Anne, New York. His birth name was John Corbin Vorce but his mother died during his infancy and he was adopted at nine years of age. He married Harriet A. Penny in 1855 and the couple had five children. In 1856 he left farming for photography. He became an itinerate photographer and his studio was located on a horse drawn wagon. During the civil war he enlisted in the 5th Vermont Volunteer Infantry where he reached the rank of sergeant. His obituary states that he served three years in participated in eight major battles until he was wounded at Fredericksburg. After the war he settled in Fort Edward, New York. While living in Fort Edward he was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Masons, Odd Fellows, and the New York State Prohibition Party. He worked as a photographer until 1870 when he was ordained by the Methodist Church. In 1880 he left his ministry work and returned to his career in photography. He operated a studio in Flemington until 1902 when he bought a studio in Blairstown, New Jersey from William C. Walters. He remained in Blairstown until his death from pneumonia in 1911.

PRETTY AND ELEGANT YOUNG WOMAN IN ROCKLAND, MAINE

A pretty and elegant looking young woman poses for her portrait at the Singhi studio in Rockland, Maine. She is beautifully dressed and wearing a watch chain emanating from a watch in her dress pocket. She appears very business-like. The photographer was named John F. Singhi (1834-1906). He was a native of Maine but his father was born in Italy. Mr. Singhi was a participant in the Civil War. He entered the Union Army as a Private in the 4th Infantry Regiment of Maine. He was mustered in in April, 1861 and mustered out in July,, 1864. He was promoted to Corporal in 1862. Upon entry into the army, he was listed as a leader of the company band and Fife Major. The fourth regiment was assembled in Rockland. In all, 144o men served in the regiment during the war and 170 of them died in or from battle. Forty men died in Confederate prisons and 137 soldiers died from disease. The Fourth Regiment participated in many major battles including The First Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.  After the service, he worked as a photographer. He was listed in Rockland city directories as a photographer from 1877 through 1897. In addition to soldiering, music and photography; John Singhi liked to get married. He especially liked marrying younger women. The 1870 US census revealed that John lived with a woman named Frances who was presumably his wife. In 1872 he married Hannah C. Bartlett.  John and Hannah were reported in the 1880 census. John was 46 while his wife was 31. In 1898, John married Caroline Look who was 17 years his junior. In 1901, John married Georgie Dow, a woman who was 13 years younger than him. In 1906, John Singhi died at age 72. His death certificate listed his cause of death to be “Shock (Paralysis)”. From that description, one imagines he died from a stroke. Perhaps cavorting with his numerous younger wives was deleterious to his health.