Susan McSparrow / McSparrin

Susan McSparrin – Warren?

This is a gorgeous 1890s era cabinet card of Susan McSparrow McSparrin, found in Tennessee last year. In the middle of the back is the name Warren written in pencil. At first I thought it might have been her married name, but I really don’t know. It could be the name of someone the card was given to, or the name of a town where she lived. Susan looks to be in her 30s to 40s in this image, and while her dress does not display the typical 1890s traits of balloon sleeves and high neck, the edges of the cabinet card are in a deckle style that was not available before the 1890s. Susan may have been a simple, conservative woman who really liked and felt good in this dress. It is also possible this is a reprint of an older photograph made for some reason – marriage or death are two possibilities.

With good reason, this is a beautiful example of understated embellishment. The front closure of the bodice is hidden in the pleats, and there are two rows of soutache running alongside that. You can see some gapping of the pleats on the lower front, suggesting that the bodice has an inner layer where it was fastened using hooks & eyes. This is not uncommon to find on vintage dresses. Note the fine lace at the upper edge of her collar. While lace today is scratchy and would probably be uncomfortable to have so close to the neck, lace at this time was made with natural fibers or rayon, so would likely have been much more soft to the touch. She also has a bar pin at the neck closure that is possibly attached to the second piece that is at her breast bone. That piece looks like it may be a watch – you can see that the chain emerges from inside the dress. Her coif is spectacular and beautiful, but again, understated elegance.

This is such a beautiful image, I am delighted to share it with you today. The photographer, C. C. Shadle, was a well respected photographer in Kittaning, PA. Born October 17, 1845 in Clarion, PA to Issac and Mary Shadle, Christopher C Shadle first was an engineer before taking up his father’s business of photography. He was in Apollo – operating in an old schoolhouse, then Tarentum, and finally settled in Kittaning in 1869. He was in business in 1865, at which time tax records show he paid the Federal Luxury tax on photographs that was established to help defray the costs of the Civil War. He paid at that time $5.80. Each photo was taxed at 10%, and there is some equation that can tell us how many photos he collected the tax on, but I get confused on how much to multiply – it was either 58 or 580. This is important because it can suggest how prolific he was. This tax was paid in October 1865. If he was paying that much per month, then we can extrapolate how much he paid in tax, and then how many photos he took per year, etc etc. (click here for more info on the tax) He was noted to have a very well appointed and conveniently located gallery in town, and also employed apprentice photographers learning their trade. Shadle also owned a farm outside of town in addition to the studio in town. He thrived in the photography business until his unexpected death in 1904 at the age of 59, which was recorded not only in the newspaper but also the U. S. Presbyterian Records. He had been a trustee in the First Presbyterian Church. The gallery was sold to John Leister at that time. Shadle was married to Jane and they had 4 children.

UPDATE: A pair of site readers have helped to solve some of the mystery! Geno let us know that the name is McSparrin, and Katie P found that Susan McSparrin was married to Charles E. McSparrin. They and their son, Bruce Darlington, lived in Dayton, PA. When I get a little bit of time, I’m going to see what more I can learn about them. Thank you, Geno & Katie P!!

Other McSparrin Photographs

Bruce D McSparrin

Mrs. S. M. McSparrin

Further Reading About C. C. Shadle

Excerpt from Biographical And Historical Cyclopedia Of Indiana And Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania, 1891 via pa-roots.org

Biography of William S Otto, employed by C. C. Shadle, via pa.roots.org

History of Apollo, via Google Books

Biography of John Ralph Leister, via pa-roots.org

Listing of obituaries from the National Underwriter, vol 8, September 1, 1904, via Google Books

Special Military Training?

Enjoy today two photos that show us that sometimes military training and camp isn’t all marching and push ups. I don’t know who the subjects are, but they were in the same pile as these pictures of Earl “E. B.” Scott and his buddy. Location and date are unknown but I’m guessing in the 1940s to 50s.

4 Women

Sarah, Agnes, Maud & Pearl

Today’s photo is a lovely cabinet card found in the Great Tennessee Vacation Haul, and shows four young women. The back of the card identifies them as Sarah, Agnes, Maud and Pearl.  Sarah and Pearl are on the ends, with Agnes & Maud in the middle. I have no knowledge of their relationship. Could they be sisters, cousins, or simply great friends?

The clothing suggest the 1880s trending to the 1890s. Sleeves are puffed but not ballooned. Because they are seated it’s not really possible to guess if these are A-line or bustled skirts.

The photographer was J. E. Kester in Brockwayville, PA, which is located midstate. It was settled in 1822 and named for the Brockway family which first settled in the area. By 1925, the name Brockwayville had been shortened to Brockway. Brockway has always been a small town, with only 1.2 square miles, and in the 1880 census there were 360 people living there. Current population from the 2010 census is 2072.

I found many other photographs online by J. E. Kester, all seeming to be from the 1890s, as well as a Commemorative Biography indicating that Blanche (Luther) Kester, wife of J. E., was living in Brockwayville in 1898.

Side eye

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I just love this little image! The square-ish card mount is approximately 2.5″x2.5″, and the photo is mounted to the back, with a thin paper covering the back of the photo. The woman at first glance just looks the “usual” stern of antique photos. However, when you look closely, she must have glanced over at the photographer because her eyes are not tracking off the the right, but looking back at the viewer, and it makes it look like she is giving the side eye. Too funny!

Beyond that, take note of the lovely small tucks across her bodice. This work was sometimes done by hand, but there were also fabrics made with tucks in them. If it was done by hand, it’s beautiful but tedious to accomplish. The tucks – if sewn by hand – would be small and precise, with tiny stitches that could barely be seen. Hand sewing is truly becoming a lost art, because it takes much practice and sometimes better materials than we have readily available to us today. The dropped puffed sleeves of this garment suggest late 1890s or early 1900s, but without more of the dress I can’t make a better guess.

Her crowning glory of a hat has bows, flowers and feathers I believe, and looks like an amazing millinery confection. I wonder how on trend this type of hat was, or if it was just that old thing?

Bruce D McSparrow / McSparrin

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One of these lads is Bruce D. McSparrow McSparrin. Due to some home construction, I have packed these photographs away and I’m not sure which one of these had the writing on the back! Whoops. I also had it carefully labeled on the original file, but my computer is also packed away. Fooey.

Bruce was 7 years old at the time of the photo, September 3, 1897. These two photographs are small, only about 3″ x 4″ with the image centered in the card.

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They were accompanied by their mother, previously shown in this post. As it turns out, this is identified on the back as Mrs. S. M. McSparrow McSparrin.

UPDATE: As it turns out, both of these images are probably of the same boy. Bruce Darlington McSparrin lived with his parents Susan and Charles McSparrin in Dayton, PA. This begs the question of who the other photo represents. It may simply be a photo of Susan McSparrin twenty years on in life.

Streeter Family Overview

I have made significant updates to the Streeter Family Overview, which may interest some of you. Of note, Kate Parish’s death and funeral information, and obituaries for Flora Moses.

Who Were They?

This tiny photograph is the last photo from the C. Murray Album, and was tucked into the corner of a page, almost as an afterthought, though I like to really think it was so small it just didn’t fit into any of the other album slots. It was tucked in with the photo which I entitled Granny and her Grands, so I wonder if she is the girl in the photo. The photo itself is only about 1 1/5″ by 1 3/4″ and is on flimsy paper. I don’t know the era those types of photos came from; it looks to be a print of a glass plate or something similar.

Following is my summary of everything I know about the Streeter family. I am blessed to have been connected with Intense Guy, Far Side of Fifty, CatM, and a couple of people on Ancestry.com who had other bits and…

View original post 1,735 more words

Stern face, pretty lace

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This fine Edwardian era photograph features a middle aged woman with a stern face. Her hair is twisted up on top of her head in a style popular in the early 20th century. Her high-necked dress has an embellishment of lace across the bodice and on the collar. Finally, there are six buttons front and center, which are probably non-functioning, meaning her bodice fastens in a different way. It is likely the dress has hooks & eyes, or less attractive workhorse buttons hidden by a placket.

The image is oval shaped in the center of the gray card. The card itself is about 3″ x 2″. I have two other photos that came with this one, and all were found in Tennessee.

UPDATE I forgot that this had been identified on the back as Mrs. S. M. McSparrow McSparrin.

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