Civil War era photo album, part 2

In part 1 of this post, I introduced a Civil War photo album that had been owned and put together by Lewis and Ruth Black, sometime around the Civil War or just afterwards. The album has spaces for 24 photos, and 23 of these spaces are filled with cartes de visite photos.

In order to determine when, where, and why the album was put together, I carefully removed each of the contained photos and scanned each of them, both front and back sides, to look for clues. In this post, I’ll present the resulting scans and will try to determine who these people are, and when and where the photos were made.

Below are the scanned images of all of the photographs contained in Lewis and Ruth’s photo album:

On the first page is an unidentified woman. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. Thanks to the presence of the 2¢ revenue stamp, we know that the photo was taken between August 1, 1864, and August 1, 1866, and that the photo cost less than 25¢. The photo was taken by V. B. Massey of Lancaster, Ohio.

The next photo is of an unidentified young boy. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite.

The next photo is of an unidentified young man. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite.

The next photo is of an older, unidentified woman. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by Schaub & Peterson of Des Moines, Iowa.

While I so far have no evidence to support my hunch, I suspect that this may be a photo of Lewis’ mother, Mary (Blosser) Black (1807–1862). This photo differs from the rest in terms of the amount dark stains (insect excrement?) on both sides of the photo, leading me to believe that this photo spent a significant amount of time unprotected by frame, case, or album before being added to this album. Perhaps this photo was taken with Lewis to war, or was with him in the hospital while he recovered from his wounds, or just was displayed on its own in his house for some time?

The next photo is of a woman identified as Matilda Pollen. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The 2¢ revenue stamp indicates that the photo was taken between August 1, 1864, and August 1, 1866, and that the photo cost less than 25¢. The photo was taken by M. I. Braddock of New Lexington, Ohio.

The next photo is of a young woman identified as Hattie Black. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by C. W. Borah of Lancaster, Ohio.

None of Lewis’ 11 sisters (Jemima, Rebecca, Mary Jane, Miriam, Minerva, Charlotte, Matilda, Ellen, Kate, Clara Ann, or Isabella) has a name close to Hattie, so perhaps Hattie Black was a first cousin. Lewis’ father Benoni had six brothers (William, Demosthenes, Charles, Alen, Charles [again], and Israel) who would have passed the Black surname on to Lewis’ first cousins:

  • William: I found no evidence that William and his wife Margaret had any children (at least there’s no mention of children on the 1850 and 1860 censuses).
  • Demosthenes: Demosthenes was married twice (to Sarah Hayes and to Catherine Sealock), but none of his daughters (Margaret, Catherine Elizabeth, Leah, Mary A., Sarah B., or Phoebe) have names close to Hattie.
  • Charles: I can find no indication that he had children, and given that a sibling born 4 years later also took the name Charles, I assume this Charles died at a young age.
  • Alen: Alen and his wife Rebecca had four children as of the 1850 census, including a 3 year old daughter with a name I haven’t been able to decipher (it looks like it starts with an A or an H and ends with a D—if you can decipher it, please let me know in the comments!). In 1865, this girl would have been 18, which is not inconsistent with the apparent age of Hattie Black in the photo above.
  • Charles: Charles married Elizabeth Fisher and had at least one daughter, Sarah, as witnessed by the 1880 census.
  • Israel: Israel married Hannah Durr and had 11 children, including five daughters: Margaret Susan, Harriet S., Joanna, Charlotte, Sarah J., and Hannah L. Harriet was born on September 6, 1851, so would have been about 14 in 1865, which seems a bit young for the Hattie Black in the photo, but not out of the realm of possibility.

The next photo is of a woman identified as Minervia Plous. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The 2¢ revenue stamp indicates that the photo was taken between August 1, 1864, and August 1, 1866, and that the photo cost less than 25¢. The photo was taken by C. W. Borah of Lancaster, Ohio.

If her name can be read as Minerva Close, then this would be Lewis Black’s next youngest sibling, Minerva J. Black (1841–1928), who married Harrison Mead Close (1837–1910). While the revenue stamp implies the photo was made in 1864–1866, Minerva and Harrison weren’t married until November 27, 1867, so it appears the caption was written at least a year or two after the photo was taken.

The next photo is of an unidentified woman. It is a tintype mounted on a carte de visite.

Acting on a tip from my wife, who thought she saw a bit of text peeking through the lined paper backing, I performed several digital image enhancements in an attempt to reveal what was written on the other side of the paper. Below is the unenhanced image, rotated and mirror imaged:

And below is the same image, but after several digital processes to isolate and enhance the writing:

There are several bits of writing, but none terribly useful. In the lower left, three numbers (__92, __00, __1) are stacked, as if for addition. in the lower right, the words “by gallery” are visible. Additional writing can be seen at the middle-upper left “..nnyb…”, and cropped at the top (indiscernible). There may also be additional writing above the “by gallery”, but I was not able to enhance it enough to read it. In any case, it appears that the paper used by the photographer to make the backing was just some scratch paper, and the writing has little, if anything, to do with the tintype on the front.

The next photo is of a young man in a military uniform. The man is identified as Robert Hays. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by Smith & Huey of Indianapolis, Indiana.

The clover-patterned or trefoil embroidery on this soldier’s jacket is intriguing. I haven’t been able to find any similar examples. Quatrefoils on kepis and hats were not uncommon, but trefoils and clovers on jackets appear to be much rarer. The Zouave officers of New York also had trefoils embroidered on their coats, but nothing like the jacket pictured here. I found one reference which states that a white trefoil (on a hat) indicates that the wearer is in the Second Division of the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

The next photo is a of a young man identified as Singleton Gardner. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by Fulton & Beach’s of Lancaster, Ohio.

This is probably William Singleton Gardner, of Rush Creek, Ohio, in 1870, and of Bremen, Ohio, in 1880. Bremen, Ohio, is where Lewis’ wife Ruth was born, and where two of Lewis and Ruth’s children (Ida May Black and Perry Commodore Black) were born (November 22, 1865, and August 4, 1867, respectively). Bremen, Ohio, is also where Lewis’ maternal great uncle Isaac Blosser (b. 1776) died in June, 1845, and also where his maternal aunt Catherine Blosser (b. 1809) died on May 26, 1865.

Singleton Gardner was a blacksmith, and I presume he was a friend of Lewis and Ruth that they knew from Bremen.

The next photo is of an unidentified young woman. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by George Washington Stiffler of Des Moines, Iowa.

On the 1860 census, George W. Stiffler was a cabinet maker in South, Iowa, and by the 1870 census, he was a photographer in Des Moines, Iowa. By the time of the 1880 census, he was living in Golden, Colorado. George’s brother and partner, James Harvey Stiffler, was also a photographer and was active in Des Moines from 1863–1873. Thus, this photograph was probably taken between 1863 and 1873.

The next photo is a tintype mounted on a carte de visite of an unidentified woman. The 2¢ revenue stamp indicates that the photo was taken between August 1, 1864, and August 1, 1866, and that the photo cost less than 25¢.

The next photo is of a military officer identified as Burnsides. It is an albumen print of an engraving, mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was published by the New York Photographic Co. of New York, NY.

Major General Ambrose Everett Burnside began his Civil War service with the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry in 1861, but served in many roles and lost many battles over the course of the War. After his losses at the Battle of Fredericksburg, his resignation as head of the Army of the Potomac was accepted by Lincoln in January, 1863. Lincoln didn’t want to entirely lose Burnside, so he reassigned him to the IX Corps and placed him in command of the Department of the Ohio. After his losses at the Battle of the Crater, Burnside was relieved of his command on August 14, 1864, and left the army on April 15, 1865. Thus, this photo of Burnside as a military officer would have been produced between 1861 and 1865, and was probably obtained by the Ohio-centric album creator after Burnside was assigned to the Department of the Ohio in 1863.

As an interesting aside, Burnside is apparently the origin of the word “sideburns”. According to Wikipedia, “Burnside was noted for his unusual facial hair, joining strips of hair in front of his ears to his mustache but with chin clean-shaven; the word burnsides was coined to describe this style. The syllables were later reversed to give sideburns.

The next photo is of a military officer identified as Benjamin Butler. It is an albumen print of an engraving, mounted on a carte de visite.

Benjamin Franklin Butler served as a Major General in the Union army for four years, beginning in 1861. In early 1865, Ulysses S. Grant appealed to Lincoln to relieve Butler from military service. Lincoln agreed, and on January 1865, Grant relieved Butler from service. After his dismissal, Butler took up politics and successfully ran as a Republican for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The next image is of a Major General Sherman. It is an engraving printed on a carte de visite.

William Tecumseh Sherman was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General by Lincoln on July 23, 1861, after he distinguished himself at the Battle of Bull Run. He was promoted to Major General of volunteers effective May, 1862. After the War, in July 1866, he was promoted to Lieutenant General. Thus, this photo of Sherman as a Major General would have been produced between 1862 and 1866.

The next photo is of a military officer identified as John A. Logan. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was printed by E. S. Walker’s of Columbus, OH.

John A. Logan fought at Bull Run in 1861 as a volunteer soldier while still serving as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. After resigning office, he was made a Colonel in the army. After distinguishing himself at the Battle of Belmont and at Fort Donelson, he was promoted to Brigadier General in 1862. In the spring of 1863, he was promoted to Major General. Logan resumed his political career after the War.

This photo of Logan as a military officer would have been produced between 1861 and 1865, and was probably obtained by the album creator after Burnside was assigned to the Department of the Ohio in 1863.

The next photo is of a military officer identified as J. McPherson. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. This photo was also printed by E. S. Walker’s of Columbus, OH.

Major General James B. McPherson was a career army officer who served in the Union army until his death on the field on July 22, 1864.

The next photo is of a Ulysses S. Grant. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. This photo was also printed by E. S. Walker’s of Columbus, OH.

Ulysses S. Grant was an Ohio native who was promoted to Colonel in June, 1861. As Brigadier General, he accepted the surrender of Confederate Fort Donelson in February 16, 1862, and was promoted to Major General of volunteers effective February 5, 1862. After the surrender of Vicksburg, Lincoln promoted Grant to Major General of the regular army in July, 1862. On March 9, 1864, Lincoln awarded Grant with the rank of Lieutenant General.

As the image above shows Grant with two stars on his shoulder, signifying the rank of Major General, this photo would have been taken between February, 1862, and March 9, 1864.

The next photo is of a military officer with sabre drawn. He is identified as John Huffard. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was printed by Cabwallader & Tappen of Marietta, OH.

These are the various John Huffards I was able to find:

The final entry is almost certainly not the pictured man. The third and fourth entries seem most geographically plausible, but the John Huffard in the photo is wearing a double-breasted Union frock coat, a part of the dress uniform of an officer, so it seems unlikely that the person in the photo was a Private. The man in the photo is also wearing a sash, another sign of his higher rank. The lighter-colored sash that he is wearing is indicative of the rank of General. The bugle horn on his hat indicates that he’s a Union infantry officer.

The specific identity of the man identified as John Huffard has not yet been determined.

The next photo is of an unidentified baby. It is a paper print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by George Washington Stiffler of Des Moines, Iowa. As discussed above, George Stiffler appears to have been active as a photographer in Des Moines between 1863 and 1873.

The next photo is of an unidentified infant. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by J. S. Moore of Toledo, Iowa.

The next photo is of a young woman identified as Euphemia Pipler. It is a paper print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by George Washington Stiffler of Des Moines, Iowa. As discussed above, George Stiffler appears to have been active as a photographer in Des Moines between 1863 and 1873.

Lewis’ brother George G. Black married Amelia Ann Keller and had eight children, including a daughter named Euphemia S. Black, born in December 1856. The woman in this photo appears to be at least 15 years old, so if this is Euphemia S. Black, the photo would have been taken no earlier than late 1871.

According to the 1870 census, she was living in Lynn, Iowa, in the northwestern corner of Iowa, about 200 miles from where the photo was taken, in Des Moines.

According to the 1900 census, Euphemia married Jacob C. Smith, and not a Pipler. I would guess that this Euphemia (daughter of George and Amelia) is not the same Euphemia, but perhaps named after her.

The final photo is of a young woman identified as Sarah Ann Hays. It is an albumen print mounted on a carte de visite. The photo was taken by D. M. Fulton of Lancaster, Ohio.

I have not yet been able to determine who Sarah Ann Hays was.

Geographic clues

The photos in the album come from four different geographic areas, but there are two clusters of locations and two one-off locations:

  • Southern central Ohio (10)
  • Central Iowa (5)
  • Indianapolis (1)
  • New York city (1)

Dates of photos and of the album

The table below summarizes the facts as they’ve been determined so far:

PhotoNameRelationDateLocation
1unidentified woman?1864–1866Lancaster, OH
2unidentified young boy???
3unidentified young man???
4unidentified older woman??Des Moines, IA
5Matilda Pollen?1864–1866New Lexington, OH
6Hattie BlackCousin??Lancaster, OH
7Minervia Plous (Close?)Sister?1864–1866Lancaster, OH
8unidentified woman???
9Robert Hays??Indianapolis, IN
10Singleton GardnerFriend??Lancaster, OH
11unidentified young woman?1863–1873Des Moines, IA
12unidentified woman?1864–1866?
13(empty)
14Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside1863–1865New York, NY
15Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler1861–1865?
16Maj. Gen. William Sherman1862–1866
17Maj. Gen. John A. Logan1861–1865Columbus, OH
18Maj. Gen. James McPherson1861–1864Columbus, OH
19Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant1862–1864Columbus, OH
20John Huffard??Marietta, OH
21unidentified baby?1863–1873Des Moines, IA
22unidentified infant??Toledo, IA
23Euphemia Pipier?1863–1873Des Moines, IA
24Sarah Ann Hays??Lancaster, OH

Given the dates of the photos, a date for the album of 1864–1865 seems to best fit the evidence.

I feel optimistic that this album has a cohesive story to tell, but it will take quite a bit of additional work before I’ll be in a position to start tying the many threads together to reveal that story. As I learn more, I’ll post the details in subsequent posts.

6 thoughts on “Civil War era photo album, part 2

  1. Re: #20 John Huffard

    I am descended from Jacob Staley Hoffert (Hofford, Hoffart, Offert, etc.) and probably Elizabeth Leonard (Lennard). They were married probably in 1824 in Fairfield County, Ohio. Jacob’s second wife was Catherine Van Hellen. They were married in 1846, probably in Perrysburg, Ohio. Jacob and Catherine had a son, John Hufford, b abt 1846 and died 26 Apr 1919 in Perrysburg, Wood Co., Ohio. I do not know if John served in the Civil War, but will start looking to see if he is a possibility for your John Huffard.

  2. I neglected to say in my first post above that I also have a photograph by V. B. Massey, Artist, Clinton Hall Art Gallery, Main Street, Tallmadge Block (Third Story), Lancaster, Ohio – the same photographer who took several of the photos in your Civil War era photo album, part 2.

    Handwriting on back of photographer’s card says “Grandmother Leonard, mother of Grandmother Hufford”.

    Helen Smith Paulson Wilson once told Marshall Smith that the handwriting looked like Verne Smith’s (her brother). However, “Grandmother Hufford” was grandmother to Mabel McKinley Smith and Walter Smith’s generation. So the handwriting is probably Mabel’s, though Verne’s generation could easily have referred to any great grandmother as simply “grandmother”.

    I will be glad to share a copy of the photo. Just E-mail me at docsmith@umich.edu.

    Marshall Smith

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