Thursday, July 7, 2016

Please help me search!

Neelands and Spensers on front porch
I know that I have procrastinated so long that many of you may have thought I would never really get back to my manuscript to make revisions.  Well, I have!  While I was going through the manuscript, page by page, editing and tightening, I collected references to photographs taken at Isaac's farm.  This week's blog shares those references in hopes that someone might identify a photograph in their collection of old family pictures as fitting the description.  (The photo at right is one a blog follower shared with me of the Neelands, who are mentioned in Isaac's journal.)
Isaac met amateur photographer Seth Blake at a political rally in Pratt, KS in July of 1890 and was delighted to learn that Seth lived only 7 miles south of Isaac's homestead.  A quick friendship formed, and the following day the two men worked together at Isaac's farm building a dark tent.  Later that day they exposed 2 dry plate experimental views of Isaac's well curb and stable.  
Occasionally Seth would leave a camera with Isaac to use, but most of the time he came on Sundays to take the photographs himself.  Isaac took photographs of the Co-operative Potato Patch and of his horses.  When Seth came the following Sunday, he photographed the Millers, the Campbells, the Fracks, and the Fergusons at Isaac's farm, as well as a group of 9 women who posed under the trees and by Isaac's well curb.
Arthur, Hazel, Verna & Helen
One Sunday was particularly busy, beginning with appointments with Bonsals and Mayes at their homes, and continuing back at Isaac's farm of Graff and Penrose in their buggy, the Carr team and wagon, boys on horses, girls posed sweetly, Sadie and her children, and Mrs. Henn and her family.
The neighborhood made coming to Isaac's place a regular Sunday destination, whether to pose or merely to enjoy watching others being photographed.  One Sunday Seth Blake photographed one group of youngsters in the lovers' promenade and the McHenry team and his boys on horseback.  However, the center of attention that day had been Miss Anna Carr and Miss Balser.
Seth Blake failed to get photographs back to people promptly, and the enthusiasm for posing waned, but Isaac was still picking up photographs at Miss Shira's gallery for Blake the day before the 1890 November election.  That same trip, Isaac mailed views of his farm to Harry Bentley in Salt Lake City, and to his siblings.
On a later trip he complained about the quality of Miss Shira's work in processing the glass plate negatives, believing too much having been done by an apprentice rather than by Miss Shira herself.
As you can see, a great many of Isaac's neighbors had their photographs taken by Seth Blake, and most of those pictures were processed by Miss Shira's studio.  If you recognize any of the family names I hope you will take a moment to remember whether there are any old pictures in your collections that might match the underlined descriptions.  Most of these pictures were taken at Isaac's homestead, so it would be wonderful if an image of Isaac's farm could be found, and equally wonderful if images of people he mentioned in his journal could be located!
(Neither of the two photographs above was taken by Seth Blake, but they are intended to be representative of the types of pictures described.  The children on the horse are my aunts and uncle. ) 

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