PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG BOY IN MAINE BY A PHOTOGRAPHER WITH A BIZARRE STORY

This scallop-edged cabinet card features a young boy posing for his photograph at the Swan studio in Norway, Maine. Some may argue that the child is actually a girl. However, it was common for young boys to wear skirt type clothing and have long hair. John Wesley Swan (1857-?) appears in the 1884 Portland, Maine city directory as a photographer. The 1900 US census reveals that Swan was Canadian born and lived in Norway with his wife (Annie) and their two daughters. Swan married his wife in 1883. According to Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin (1900), Swan’s studio was destroyed by fire and he lost a large number of valuable negatives of scenery in the area of Norway. The journal also states that the “loss was large and the insurance is said to be small”. Swan was the official photographer of the Grand Trunk Railway system. He won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition according to Photo-Era magazine (1900). At one point in his career in Norway, Swan had a partner in his business (Swan & Cobb). John Wesley Swan was involved in a bizarre incident that made the annals of the history of Norway. The book,  “A History of Norway, Maine: From the Earliest Settlement to the Close of the Year 1922”, tells a  mysterious story about Mr. Swan. While on a trip to Boston in 1893, Swan disappeared for a period of about six months. The writer states that Swan “claimed to have been sand-bagged and robbed in Boston and when he partially recovered consciousness found himself in New Orleans”. His memory had “left him” and he wandered around until his memory returned while he was in Texas. Swan returned to Norway and explained his disappearance to his friends and family, and community. According to the writer, many doubted the validity of his explanation.

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Published in: on July 15, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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