You can imagine how excited I got when I found this cabinet card, which is identified as “Eylar’s father, Millard Fillmore, 1887.” Since I was in a shop I couldn’t exactly Google the former president to determine if this was a legitimate photo of our 13th president, and I’m a bit uncertain about the 19th century presidents as it is. So, I bought it and those that accompanied it, just to be on the safe side.
Well, one Wikidpedia entry later, I had confirmed this is not a photo of Millard Fillmore (1800-1875) the former president of the United States. Bummer. Fillmore the pres was in office 1850-1853, succeeding Zachary Taylor, who died in office after only 19 months, in what some suspected was poisoning, but of what turned out to be cholera and severe diarrhea. Fillmore, as Taylor’s Vice President, was inaugurated as President in July 1850 and promoted several policies that favored slavery, which was a major dividing issue in America at the time. He was the last of the Whig presidents, the party which Abraham Lincoln left in order to run as the first Republican presidential candidate. Fillmore apparently hated Lincoln. He wasn’t much liked as a president and is consistently ranked in the bottom 10 of American presidents. Fillmore did have a son named Millard P, but he was born in 1828. Millard P. apparently was so angry with his father for remarrying after the death of his wife that the younger Millard never forgave him and had most of the family papers burned upon his own death. Wow, now that’s a grudge.
Whew, I am sort of relieved this is not a photo of him!
This is Millard Fillmore, born 1849 in Vermont. His wife was named either Alveda or Esther, depending on who you ask, and they married in 1875. Esther was from Ohio. Esther’s last name was Eylar, and as was relatively common in Victorian families, her first born carried her last name. This was frequently done when a female was the last person bearing the name as a surname. Tomorrow, Alveda/Esther Fillmore.
The photographer used was Stevens, located in McVicker’s Theatre Building, Chicago, IL. I could not find a citation for the family living in Chicago, or even Illinois, but perhaps with more research something shall turn up.
7 thoughts on “Millard Fillmore”
This is fascinating; looking forward to the next installment (Alveda/Esther)! ;-)
A very funny story of mistaken identity.
The McVicker’s Theater was once one of the grandest entertainment centers in America. It was remodeled and rebuilt several times after fires destroyed it and theater technology offered new innovations. I found this neat brochure from 1891 that describes the theater’s history to that year and has adverts for the Stevens Photography Studio on the inside back cover.
Perhaps Millard Fillmore had a theater connection or worked for a supplier to the complex theater machinery.
I did find he was in sales – auto and real estate in the 20s and 30s, so this is a possibility.
You did a great job of researching! Congratulations… Frankly, I had forgotten about President Fillmore!
Loved the narrative about Fillmore..the Pres. So glad you purchased the photo..even if it wasn’t the Pres:)