Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

I am not really sure why I thought this fellow’s name was Conner Colter because looking at the handwriting now, it looks nothing like Conner Colter! Are those letters S or F or L or what? Fullner Falter? Saucener Salter? I really can’t make heads or tails of the handwriting.

The photographer of this mystery man was J. L. Lovell of Amherst, MA.

I found that this particular image is the portrait of Eugenio Luis Juan Jose Napoleon IV Bonaparte (1856-1879). The reverse of the card indicates “Prince Imperial” which was his official title. Known as Louis-Napoleon, he was the only child of Napoleon III, Emperor of France and Empress Eugenie. The prince relocated with his family from France to England when his father was dethroned in 1870. He was only 14 at the time and eager to make his own name. As such, he served in the British Army during the Anglo-Zulu war in 1879, in which he was killed at the age of 23 in a rather rash and unwise venture into enemy territory without a full contingent of soldiers. His death ended the hopes of Imperialists who wished to return him to France and claim the throne as a 4th Bonaparte emperor. These prints were likely sold as souvenirs by the bookseller Maison Martinet.

Today’s image shows a younger middle aged man identified as Milton Farnsler or Fransler – I’m not 100% on either of these and could be convinced of something else. I say younger middle age because I’d guess he’s between 30-40. He has had time to grow in an impressive set of side whiskers, and his necktie is a smidge old-fashioned for the approximate time of the portrait. It reminds me more of the ties used in the 1850s & 60s. I am no expert on men’s fashions, though, so this could be completely wrong!

The back of the photo is where his name is written. I did find a Milton A Farnsler born 1854 in Pennsylvania. He would have been in his 30s in the 1880s – around the time I suspect this photo was made. If this is indeed Milton A Farnsler, he was married to Elizabeth “Lizzie”, and they had 2 children: Herbert and Eva. Milton A Farnsler died in 1900 at the age of 66, and is buried at the Union Deposit Cemetery in Union Deposit, PA.

The photographer of this image was the M. E. Bare studio in Hummelstown, PA.

Find A Grave page here

Wow, this photograph is simply lovely. Look at the amazing crown of braids and the long curls draped onto her shoulder. Her earrings belie the misconception that Victorian women “didn’t pierce their ears.” I’d guess based on the hair and dress that I can see that the photo was made at the end of the 1870s or early 1880s.

The young woman was identified as Mary McNabb Donnelly.

We can assume she lived in or around Chicago as the studio she used was the Moore studio at 180 West Madison Street, Chicago. The location is just a block or two from the City of Chicago City Hall, but these days it’s a sky scraper and the original site is long gone.

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