Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Today’s CDV is a wonderful post Civil War era photograph from the 1860s. I say post war because of the image taking up most of the face of the card. Pre war CDV images were usually quite small and during the war they evolved from the small size to the larger size. The addition of more props leads us into the next decade.

The back of the card has pencil notations of who these people were. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t super distinct, so I’m taking a stab at Gramma – that could be a sideways leaning capital G. It could also be Gemma, but I think that’s a modern name and not one from the 19th century. Maybe Grammy? It’s also a total guess at the last name – Matt….amz? ias? ews?

Under the back mark for the photographer was written “and sun Amous.”

The photo was made by F. G. Lewis in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. Ingersoll is in Ontario, across Lake Erie from Cleveland, OH, and then inland just a smidge. It’s basically directly west of Niagra Falls. I found an interesting journal from the 1930s, where the Ingersoll Tribune collected articles about the town published in the Oxford Tribune and Dairy Reporter from the 1870s. F. G. Lewis was mentioned for having opened a grocery with his brother N. Lewis in 1877. It mentioned that he had been a photographer up until he went into the grocery business.

Mr. F. G. Lewis, who is a native of Hamilton, or of that immediate vicinity, re- moved to Ingersoll from the ‘ambitious city’, 11 years ago. For 3 years or thereabouts, he had been engaged in the grocery trade of Hamilton; subsequently he turned his atten- tion to photography and carried on that business both at Hamilton and here, until engaging in his present business last May.

If we do the math, in 1877, it mentioned that he had moved to Ingersoll 11 years prior – so, 1866. For 3 years he was a grocer – until 1869. He then became a photographer for the remaining years until he went back into the grocery business. This fastens our CDV to 1869 or 1870. Around this time, the card mounts changed significantly and were not made of the thinner bristol board as this one is.




Ingersoll in the Eighteen Seventies via Oxford County Library

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