Genealogist are beholden to folks like Matthew Brady who really served to popularize photography in the mid-19th century. I’m particularly fortunate because my third great uncles, Moses and Aaron Cadwell were so taken with photography that they opened the first studio in Flatonia, Texas, in operation from the early 1870s through about 1910. Having a photographer in the family really added to the photo documentation I have available. (Interesting story about Moses and Aaron Cadwell… as the names imply they were twins. When they came to Texas from Illinois in 1844, they were taken for a brief time by Kiowa Indians who were enthralled with twins. After they were returned, the boys were sometimes hidden in the flour barrel on the wagon to prevent another ‘kidnapping.’)
Apart from the ability to put a face with a name, you also get a sense of the 19th and early 20th century artistic sensibility. That was brought home to me recently when I ran across this photo on Slate.com (taken from Twitterer VintageWTF):
Child Smoking with a Chicken
This really just defies description, doesn’t it? But it prompted me to go through my family album to see if I had anything similar. The following is my gallery of ignominy.
A photo of Ed Arnim and ‘Miss Paula’ (Paula Marberger Arnim) with a horse wearing a macramé blanket, taken by Moses Cadwell.
Ed Arnim, Miss Paula, and unidentified (mortified) horse, about 1900, Flatonia, Texas
My great grandfather, Hugh Brunnemann on his first birthday, wearing his father’s spectacles.
Hugh Brunnemann, 3 September 1890, Flatonia, Texas
My great grandfather, Hugh Brunnemann, in a huge hat, next to an oak stump.
Hugh Brunnemann, about 1891, Flatonia, Texas
This is my great aunt Alice Brunnemann, on some kind of fur ‘thing.’
Alice Margaret Brunnemann, about 1912, Flatonia, Texas
This is my grandmother sitting on a dead animal pelt.
Elaine Brunnemann on Dead Animal, about 1920, San Antonio, Texas
My great grandfather, Hugh, followed in his uncles’ footsteps with a life-long interest in photography. Here are some of his more ‘interesting’ results.
This is my great grandmother, Annabelle McNatt Brunnemann with my grandmother and great uncle Auben Brunnemann. My grandfather loved to take this photo out and show us kids whenever we visited. My great grandmother would probably be mortified that I’ve posted it publicly (but she did have a great sense of humor, so maybe not…)
Annabelle Brunnemann (and hair) with Auben and Elaine Brunnemann, about 1921, San Antonio, Texas
This is my great grandfather about 1914 near McAllen, Texas. I can’t imagine how you rode around on that bizarre little hand car.
Hugh Brunnemann, about 1914, near McAllen, Texas
This is my great grandfather making a fashion statement.
Hugh Brunnemann with hat and axe, about 1915, Flatonia, Texas
And finally, my great grandfather doing stupid pet tricks.
Hugh Brunnemann and friend, about 1920, San Antonio, Texas