Liberty Bell 27

Liberty Bell

Close your mouth, son

Well, here it is. The last photo from the Liberty Bell Album. It began in mystery and has ended that way. Site reader John Roberts did find some information on our one name, Bertha Ham, which through my own disorganization I don’t have linked to the face of the photo. One day I will be able to unpack it and match the name to the face, but until then, we only know the following:

1900 Census, Bertha M Ham, single, age 25 (born Nov 1874), living with her mother, Mary J Ham, age 64 (b Oct 1835) at 36 South Street, Exeter, New Hampshire. Mary and her deceased husband both were born in New Hampshire (as well as Mary’s parents), and Bertha was born in Massachusetts. While her occupation isn’t listed on the census sheet, Bertha is listed as an ‘Operative’ in city directories produced around that time.

Using that information, I was able to find a family tree listing her family.

Joseph Ham (b 1835, d 1875) married Mary J Currier (1835-1914) Nov 25, 1858. They had four children:

Joseph (1860-????)
Mary E (1861-????)
Frederick S (1865-1914)
Flora Bertha (our subject from above)

Frederick and his mother both died in March of 1914 within 3 weeks of each other, but I wasn’t able to determine why.

And there you have it. Perhaps someone searching on Bertha, Frederick, Mary E or Joseph Ham will find this page and make the connection to their family tree!

This last photo was made by N. A. Nealey of Linden Street, Exeter, NH. We previously saw images made by Nealey, click here and here for the women. You will notice that this, the last photo in the album bears a remarkable resemblance to this, the subject of the first photo in the album! Is that a funny coincidence or ironic placement by the original owner? We shall never really know.

Coming up in a few days I have a real treasure to share with you…a gem album! I found it online and it has been a real delight to examine. We will learn a little bit about gems and a lot about the faces.


Liberty Bell 4

Liberty Bell 5

Velvet necked dress

This next portrait from the Liberty Bell album shows us a dress with a bow motif. You can see the first bow rather easily on the bodice. Next are bows on the shoulder tops. Finally the velvet collar of the blouse has a big bow on the back. This is finally a dress that I don’t think I could comfortably wear!

The photographer was N. A. Nealey on Linden Street, Exeter, NH.

Liberty Bell 3

Liberty Bell 4

Pleasantly plump in New Hampshire

Next up from the Liberty Bell album is this photograph from the 1890s showing a round-faced woman with quite a lot of lace and ruffles adorning her dress. Her hair is slicked down to her head with small curls around the hairline. These were called frisse I believe. From what I can see of the dress, the styling is from the mid 1890s, with lots of layers, tucks, bows, ribbons, and probably more that cannot be seen. The photographer was N. A. Nealey of Linden Street, Exeter, NH.

Liberty Bell 1

Liberty Bell 3 Liberty Bell 1

Inside the Liberty Bell album, I found the 4×6 page of historical information behind one of the photos. The album must have been made after 1895 as it references that year in the information. Having just visited the Liberty Bell in December 2013, this is particularly intriguing information to me. The park ranger leading our tour of the Pennsylvania State House aka Independence Hall told us the bell cracked on the tolling for George Washington’s birthday, not the death of Chief Justice Marshall as noted above. According to the National Parks Service webpage for the Liberty Bell, the 2000 pound bell had a crack immediately after its casting. The crack was repaired according to techniques at the time, and was even recast in 1753. At a ringing of the bell to celebrate George Washington’s birthday in 1846 the bell cracked irreparably and has not been rung since. A replacement bell was cast and hangs still in the bell tower of Independence Hall. The new bell weighs 13,000 pounds, one thousand for each of the original 13 colonies. Up until the 1980s, visitors could touch the original bell, however that is no longer possible due to the minor vibrations that could further damage the relic. Anecdotes indicate the bell always sounded “off” and didn’t have a very pretty sound to it. The “new” bell continues to ring every day.

In front of this slip of incorrect but well intended information is the photograph above. An unidentified young man, photographed in his late teens or early twenties. The photographer was N. A. Nealey of Linden Street, Exeter, New Hampshire. He was known to be in business in the 1880s and 90s. The sawtooth edges of the card tell us it was made in the 1890s.

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