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Phabulous Photo Phun!

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

Ok, yeah. That's a geeky title, but maybe it got your attention.

Photographic History

Today's blog post has to do with photographs and photographers. For starters, the photographic history book, Images of America: Trimble County is flying off the shelves. I've sold two of three 40-book boxes in less than a week, and hope to sell more Thursday night at the book signing. Trimble County Public Library, 6:;30-7:30 p.m., Bedford, Ky. Please come and visit! I'm going to chat about the book and the process of putting it together and sign copies. You can bring copies already purchased, or buy them from me directly that evening.


I signed up with the Virtual Institute of Genealogy Research for a four-session webinar on identifying and preserving family photographs with Maureen Taylor, a.k.a. The Photo Detective. The sessions were divided into two Saturdays. It was a bit of a time commitment (four hours on both Saturdays), but it really was an excellent course. I learned so much, and I'm looking forward to putting my newfound knowledge to good use.

I also want to encourage anyone out there to check out VIGR and see what they have coming up. I was very impressed. If you want more education in genealogy, but can't afford to travel to the institutes in Salt Lake, Birmingham (Ala.) or Pittsburgh, this is a great alternative.


So, our only bit of homework was to do some research and write a biography of a photographer whose imprint appears on one of our family photos.

I don't really own many 19th century or early 20th century photos of my own family members with photographer's imprints, but I have collected a ton that I have bought at antiques stores and on eBay. It's becoming an obsession, as I've mentioned in previous posts.

At first, I was going to do some research on one Joseph Rupert "J.R." Gorgas, a photographer who had a studio in Madison, Ind., for a time. That one turned out to be a little too easy, as there was a lot of information already posted on him on his memorial page. I do have a very nice Carte de Visite photo of his. The subjects appear to be a brother and sister, but they are unidentified.

So, I looked through my collection and found another Carte de Visite by Spaulding & Flora, also of Madison. I found quite a bit on Herbert M. Flora, but found not a lot of information about Mr. G.L. Spaulding online.

I wanted to be challenged a bit, so I chose him. My first stop was the library, where I found his obituary. I also looked through every Madison city directory they had and found his name in several. I also noted the names of the other photographers listed under the business section of the directory.

It was a lot of fun, and here is a portion of the report that I turned in:

Spaulding and Flora phot129 small.jpg

Spaulding and Flora name.jpg

George Lawson Spaulding was born on a farm in Christianburg, Brown County, Indiana, in 1862 to William and Sarah (Steel) Spaulding. He married Emma Schwab in 1891, about a year after he had moved to Madison, Ind.

According to his obituary (16 March 1950, Madison Courier), he learned his trade working for photographers in Nashville, Ind., and Columbus, Ind. Upon moving to Madison, he first worked in the photo studio of John Cadwallader at 115 Main St.

He later became a partner with Mr. Flora, as indicated by the accompanying photograph with the imprint "Spaulding & Flora." At some point, he went to Indianapolis to manage another friend's studio (the friend may have been Cadwallader, as I have found his name on an imprint of a photograph with Indianaplis as the location).

He returned to Madison and opened a dry goods store with his brother-in-law, George D. Schwab, which appearently remained in business until after Mr. Spaulding died in 1950. It's possible he had a studio at that store, as in the city directories, his occupation is at times still listed as a photographer, even though he no longer has his own separate studio.

One thing about his obituary that intrigues me most is that, from about 1930-40, he had worked as the official photographer at the Madison State Hospital, which was a facility for the mentally ill. I'd be interested to know what that job entailed.

So, there's a lot more research I plan to do on him.

I discovered that the Research Library at the Jefferson County Historical Society (manned by volunteers from the Jefferson County Genealogical Society, of which I am a proud member) has a very nice collection of his photographs, along with photos from some of the other photographers I'd found while doing my research.

I can't wait to dig a little deeper.

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