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Charles W. Allfrey,

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Hi. I'm Phyllis. I'm a Photo-holic.

Indeed, if there was a 12-step program for this, I would be attending meetings daily. I hesitate to guess how many I've collected off eBay and at antiques stores; let's just say I have several small boxes filled with them.

So, last weekend I wandered into Lumber Mill Antiques Mall just for fun. I have some kind of spiritual experience when i go to those places. I just love them, and walking through them is relaxing for me – unlike going to the big-box stores.

I'm always looking for old photographs – mostly carte de visite or cabinet cards. I also have a small collection of glass negatives, mostly purchased online. Sometimes I find more contemporary pictures from the early 20th century, but I'm starting to become more picky about what I bring home.

For example, I'm hooked on portaits of ladies wearing elaborate hats.

But another thing I look for are photos made by photographers who worked in Madison, Indiana, my adopted hometown: J.R. Gorgas, George Spaulding, Herbert Flora, Charles King, John and Bassett Cadwallader, and anyone else I can find.

I found a booth where someone was selling cabinet-card photos made by Gorgas, Spaulding and King, who was a new name for me. Two of them had identification information.

First, a Gorgas photo:

Cabinet card portrait by J.R. Gorgas, Madison, IN
Charles W. Allfrey

A quick online search and I found this biography of who I believe is pictured here, Charles W. Allfrey – from the "Biographical and Historical Souvenir of Clark, Crawford, Harrison, Floyd, Jefferson, Jennings, Scott and Washington; John M. Gresham & Co., 1899: ( "Charles W. Allfrey, schoolteacher, was born in Switzerland County, Ind., and was raised on a farm. He is the son of Joseph Allfrey and Elizabeth Grey. His father was a native of Nicholas County, Ky., born in 1789, of Virginia people. His grandfather was a soldier in the War of 1812.     "Mr. Allfrey's mother was the daughter of James Grey, and was born in Virginia; she came to Indiana with her father in 1800, and settled in what is now Switzerland County. They were the earliest settlers of that County. Her father was a soldier in the War of 1812.    "Mr. Allfrey was educated in the common schools of his County, and then took a course at the Woodward School, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. He commenced teaching in 1853, and followed in until 1869; then for two years he flatboated. In 1871 he was appointed School Examiner, and served at that for two years; then he went at the traffic of goods on the river. While from home on this business he was nominated on the Decmocratic ticket for Recorder of Jefferson County He was elected to that office and served for four years; after which he resumed his profession as teacher, which he still follows.    "When a boy he was engaged as cook on a flatboat, and in that capacity made quite a number of trips to New Orleans. He has made several trips through portions of the Southern country since he arrived at manhaood. Mr. Allfrey is considered on of the best teachers of the County, and is well liked by scholars, parents and the school officers."

How cool is that? What could have taken weeks of research in the archives or elsewhere, and bingo! It's right there, right now.

Madison has such amazing history, and I'm thrilled to be able to find pieces of it so they can be preserved for future generations.

Feel free to contact me if you have photos from local photographers that you'd like to sell. If you have them, but plan to keep them in the family, consider taking them to the Jefferson County Historical Society on First Street. Volunteers there will create high-resolution scans of the photos and add them to the archives database. They don't require identification, but any information is helpful.

Happy hunting!


Disclaimer: Information in this post should not be taken as Gospel; this is research that has been done "on the fly," using mostly census information, marriage, and death records as available. None of the information has been proven using the Genealogical Standards of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Additionally, there will be information (deemed by me to be reliable) that has been harvested from public trees I've found at

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