Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Coming up for your viewing pleasure, I will be featuring the photographs from another album, one that I call Red Velvet. No, I am not terribly clever with this, the album is covered in red velvet as you must have guessed. Once upon a time there was an emblem in fancy script across the front that said “Album” but it has long since parted ways with its host. The album is of a fairly standard size I am learning, approximately 9″ w by 10.5″ high and roughly 2″ thick. There is a fancy sliver clasp that still works so I assume the long lost emblem was also in silver. It must have been stunning when original! There are 13 pages with single openings for cabinet cards – so space for 26 cabinet cards – and then three pages with spaces for 4 CdVs each, so room for 24 CdVs.

Each page is faced in a different color paper, ranging from pink to lemon, blue to gray. Each picture opening is trimmed in a gilded scroll work, making each photo the centerpiece of the page in a magnificent fashion. While there is room for 50 photos total, there are far fewer. 12 cabinet cards and 17 CdVs remain. All are probably unidentified. As I take them out to scan I will carefully inspect them for any indication of names, but I am not hopeful. What I have seen in the past is that some family member goes through and takes the photos that are identified and/or that they can identify, and they leave the rest for the junk sale.

The first photo I found in the Red Velvet album was this one of a very handsome young boy, posed on a stone wall or monument, one leg folded under the other. He is wearing knee length short pants, black stockings and high boots, a fine black coat with a white collar, and he is holding a round cap in one hand. His attitude is engaged, as though he has just agreed to play a game of marbles once the shoot has finished.

The photographer was Dunn in Meadville, PA. I didn’t have much time to research this fellow, but what I did find was interesting. There was an early settler of Portland, NY named James Dunn who emigrated from Meadville, PA. This was in 1806, so it could not have been the photographer, but could certainly have been an ancestor of him. I shall try to work on this more later, but readers are welcome to play with it as well. I am tentatively dating this photo to the 1880s because that is when I believe the stone monument setting was popular in photography studios. Should I find I am wrong I will amend the date as needed.

4 thoughts on “Red Velvet

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    Is the Cleveland family album all “done with” now?

    Goodness… nothing anyone could search on to see who those folks were.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Yes, unfortunately, not even a nickname or an initial.


  2. IntenseGuy says:

    The photographer was Jeptha Dunn –


    Jephta. D. DUNN, photographer, Meadville, was born in Hayfield Township, Crawford county, August 17, 1829, and is a son of Simeon and Eliza (Compton) Dunn. His grandfather, James Dunn, came to this county in 1794, was a
    farmer, for many years Justice of the Peace. He had a large family. All of James’ sons, seven in number, were soldiers in the war of 1812. Our subject’s father, who was the youngest in the family, followed farming, spending his life in Crawford County. He had a family of seven children, of whom J. D. is the second; he died in 1866.

    Our subject, till seventeen years old, was raised on the farm in Hayfield Township, and after receiving a common school education, he learned plastering, which he worked at for several years until his health gave way. He then learned photography, at which he continued one year. Then he came to Meadville and worked at plastering until 1857, when his health again failed. He then started his present photography business, which he has continued ever since.

    Mr. Dunn was twice married, on first occasion, in 1854, to Martha J. Maxwell, a native of Meadville, of Irish descent. The fruit of this marriage is one daughter — Helen E. Mrs. Dunn died in I866,and three years later Mr. Dunn married Miss Olive Hall. They have two children — Lulu and Gertie. Mr. aud Mrs. Dunn are members of the Christodelphian Church; in politics he is a member of the National Greenback party.

    “History of Crawford County, Pennsylvania; containing a history of the county; its townships, towns, villages, schools, churches, industries, etc.; portraits of early settlers and prominent men; biographies; history of Pennsylvania; statistical and miscellaneous matter, etc., etc. Chicago, Warner, Beers, 1885”


  3. Larry says:

    It is a neat photo. I have a couple of those velvet books, one is red and the other is green. I don’t know the family other than I think they belonged to older relatives of the family that lived in the house my dad had purchased.


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