This cabinet card portrait features two adorable and identically dressed sisters posing for their portrait at the H. F. Askey studio in Elliott, Iowa. Note the girl’s puffy lacy bonnets. The girls are identified in an inscription on the reverse of the card as Marcella and Ina Hubbard. Marcella was born around 1892 and Ina was born around 1897. The 1900 US census reveals that the children were living in Sherman, Iowa with their parents Charles and Emma and three older siblings. Charles Hubbard worked as a businessman. The 1910 US census found the girls still living with their parents in Sherman. The only other child in the house was a younger sister. Charles was working as a “peddler” in the food business and Marcella had become a public school teacher. The photographer of this image was Henry Franklin Ashey. He was born in 1872 in Rock Grove, Illinois and died in 1959 in Grant, Iowa. He was married to Alice Dean Carroll in 1902 and the couple had four children. Askey was one of Iowa’s early photographers and at one time operated a studio in Red Oak, Iowa. When he left the photography business he became a farmer near Red Oak and Grant.

Published in: on March 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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This cabinet card portrait features the most adorable baby ever photographed in Muscatine, Iowa. Thanks to an inscription of the reverse of the photograph, we know the name of this photogenic child. The notation states “Please give this to Cora Freddie(?) Guthrie. Taken when 3 1/2 months old. She is now over a year”. The notation is signed “Evelyn”. The photograph was taken by the Clifford & Son studio in Muscatine, Iowa. The studio was operated by Charles Clifford and his son Frederick. Charles Clifford had a studio in Newton, Iowa in the 1880’s and 1890’s. The Photographic Journal of America (1893) announces that Charles and his son opened a studio in Muscatine. The Photographic Times (1895) makes mention that the father and son had mauufactured a “flash light machine”. The Photo Beacon (1897) notes that the Clifford & Son had won some awards at a photography exhibition.


Published in: on January 4, 2015 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This cabinet card portrait captures a curly haired young woman posing for her portrait at the Lupton studio in Burlington, Iowa. Note the woman’s lace collar. One wonders about the meaning of her clasped hands. Is she deep in prayer? Is she overwhelmed by worry. The photographer of this image is Oscal L. Lupton who was born in 1849 in Indiana. He appears in the 1880 US census and is listed as working as a photographer in Greenville, Illinois and living with his wife Nellie. The 1900 US census finds Mr Lupton living in Burlington with his wife and three sons.

Published in: on October 14, 2014 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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EQUESTRIAN_0005This cabinet card features a dandy gentleman holding what appears to be a riding crop in his gloved hands. Is he dressed for riding? Is that a horse shoe pin that he is wearing    near the bottom of his vest? Note his pocketwatch and chain. The reverse of the photograph is inscribed by the subject. He wrote “Ever your friend, George L. Stringer”. The reverse of the cabinet card also reveals the name of the photographer. A stamp identifies the portraitist as being A. W. Adams whose studio was located on Water Street in Decorah, Iowa. Research revealed some information about George Lincoln Stringer (1862-1932). The 1880 US census indicates that he was born in Iowa but that his parents were Canadian born. In 1880, he was living in Decorah with his parents. His occupation was hard to decipher but it looked a lot like blacksmith. The 1900 census found him still living in Decorah and married (1884) to Mary Alice Kennedy. The couple had a 15 year-old son named Vernon. Once again his occupation was nearly illegible but it seemed to read “traveling salesman”. George Stringer died in 1932 and is buried in Phelps Cemetery in Decorah.  The town of Decorah was settled in 1849 and in its early history had a large number of Norwegian settlers. The Norwegian influence remains there today. The Decorah Posten was the largest Norwegian newspaper in the United States until it shut down in 1972. The town was named after Waukon Decorah, a Winnebago tribal leader, who was a US ally in the Black Hawk War of 1832. The photographer of this cabinet card, Asa W. Adams (1842-1915) operated a photo studio in Decorah between 1863 and 1884. Before moving to Decorah, Adams ran a a studio in McGregor, Iowa (1863). Early during his operations in Decorah he had a partnership with S. R. Shear in the Adams & Shear Gallery. In 1866 he married Emma J. Fuller and the couple had four children. Adams sold his studio to O. E. Borlaug. He next conducted his photography business in Waterloo, Iowa (1884-after 1900). Adams died in 1915 and is buried in Decorah.




This cabinet card photograph features a pretty young woman with long hair draped over her right shoulder. The image was produced by the Neal Brothers studio in Keota, Iowa. The Milwaukee Journal (1949) has an article about Edwin E. Neal who took over the Keota studio in 1888 and operated it until 1948. It is written that he only used one camera throughout his career. He did change lenses several times as advances were made in the field of photography. Neal’s wife assisted him with photo finishing, posing subjects, and running the business. At some point in his career, according to a different source, Edwin worked in partnership with his brother Charles. To view other photographs by Edwin Neal, click on the category “Photographer: Neal”.


Published in: on May 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm  Comments (1)  
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family f

This vintage photograph features a handsome family posing for their portrait at the F. A. Free Studio in Davenport, Iowa. This good looking and well dressed couple had their hands full with three children so close in age to each other. It is possible that the two older children are twins. Whatever the case, all three children are adorable. Note their boots, bows, and ruffles. The photographer, Frank A. Free, is the subject of an article in the Quad-City Times (2010). The newspaper reports that a Free Photographic Studio estate sale was being held.  Frank Free had already left thousands of portrait negatives to the Putnam Museum (located in Davenport) and to the Davenport Library. Frank died in 1968 and his wife Lois continued operation of the studio through part of the 1990’s. Frank Free’s name is mentioned in a number of photographic journal articles. An article in the Bulletin of Photography (1922) states that he won a silver cup in a photographic exhibition in London. He was also involved at the beginning stages (1909) with a Iowa photographers group called Cameracraftsmen.

Published in: on March 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm  Comments (3)  
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IOWA GIRLS_0007The Brandt Brothers studio in Avoca, Iowa, produced this family portrait. Emma and Clara Holst are identified in an inscription on the reverse of the photograph. The two young women are wearing nice dresses with flowers pinned to just below their shoulders. Research reveals that Emma Holst was born in 1878 and Clara was born in 1881. Growing up, the sisters lived together in both Pleasant and Shelby, Iowa. Emma married Henry Sick in 1898. Sick was six years older than Emma. They had at least three children and in 1925 lived in Valley, Iowa.


Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 12:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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J. F. Barton documents the resolution of the conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Mrs. Irma Hatfield and Miss Henrietta McCoy met at the Barton studio to resolve the decades old dispute that decimated their families. Sorry! I couldn’t resist making up a story to accompany this cabinet card portrait. The image begs for explanation, but unfortunately,  the reason for the pictured handshake is lost in history. The ladies are wearing plain dresses but nice hats. Both women are wearing fingerless gloves. The woman on the right is wearing a belt that may have been the prototype of the automobile seat belts of today. J. F. Barton is humorously mentioned in the Denison Review (1902) as a first class photographer who is “kept busy printing smiles” on his customers.


Published in: on January 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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The child in this cabinet card portrait is a real cutie pie. Whether the darling child is a boy or a girl is anyone’s guess but I vote girl. She is wearing a lace collar and button up boots. Her hairstyle includes bangs and her head is covered by a straw hat. The photographer is J. H. Reynolds of Burlington, Iowa. Reynolds established his gallery in Burlington in 1872 and it was at some time (including 1888) located at 211 1/2 Jefferson Street. Reynolds was born in Warren County, New York in 1842. In 1863 he moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin where he studied photography. In the fall of 1863 he enlisted as a private in the 8th Wisconsin Infantry (Company H). He participated in the Red River campaign and then returned to Vicksburg. In the fall of 1864 he was discharged for physical disability after contacting disease while soldiering in the swamps of Louisiana. He then went to New York City where he worked as a photographer for six years until he returned to Burlington to open his gallery. In 1873 he married Miss May Wheeler from Mount Vernon, Iowa. Reynolds was a Mason and a member of the Knight of Pythias.


CEDAR FALLS GRAD_0002Cabinet cards frequently present interesting mysteries. This cabinet card inspired a number of questions. I wondered what the story was behind this unusual image. The cabinet card was out of the ordinary because of the mini photograph in the left hand bottom corner of the image. The previous owner of the photograph suggested it was a memorial card, but I was dubious. I hypothesized that the image was a graduation portrait and that the buildings in the photo insert was the college from which he graduated. I set out to learn what colleges were located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I discovered that the University of Northern Iowa is located in Cedar Falls. From 1876 through 1909 the college was called the Iowa State Normal School. The name was changed and between 1909 and 1961, the educational institution was known as Iowa State Teachers College. Further research confirmed my hypothesis. The photo below, from the University of Northern Iowa library web site, shows the same buildings that are in the cabinet card photograph. The building on the left is South Hall (later Gilchrist Hall) and the building on the right is North Hall (later Central Hall). These buildings were located on the campus of the Iowa State Normal School. Research uncovered the photo postcard below which was identified as being from 1885. My initial hypothesis seems to be correct. This cabinet card is most likely a graduation picture. The subject in the image had just graduated from the Iowa State Teachers College. The cabinet card’s photographer was named Hahnemann Lancaster and he was located in Cedar Falls. The reverse of the photograph has printing advertising that Lancaster had won two first place prizes at both the 1884 and 1886 Iowa State Fairs. Lancaster (born in 1858) was 41 years old when he appeared in the 1900 US census. He was born in Canada. He was married to Sarah (age 39) and the couple had two sons and three daughters at the time of the census.



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