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:
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: (ingenweb.org) "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.
That same publication also has an entry for Mr. Gorgas:
"Joseph R. Gorgas, photographer, a native of Westmoreland county, Pa., was born Feb. 7, 1829. His parents were William and Ann Gorgas, who were natives of Pennsylvania. His father died in 1845, at the age of 56 years. His mother died at the age of 87 years, at her home in Pennsylvania. "Mr. Gorgas learned the business of photography in Pittsburgh, Pa. He came to Madison, Ind., in 1853, and engaged as clerk in the dry goods store of Mr. Irby Smith, where he remained for about three months. "He then opened a gallery for photographing, and has continued in that business ever since in Madison, whith the exception of about three years, during which time he made an extended trip through the South on a floating photograph gallery. "He subsequently returned to Madison, Ind., and re-established himself in his business. He has built up a fine trade in this line, having the best in the city. He is a superior artist in his line and deserves the great popularity which is now his. "In 1865 he married Miss Delphina Verry, daughter of Mr. John Veryy, an old citizen of Madison. He has one child Anna, who is the wife of MR. Edward E. Powell, also of Madison. "Mr. Gorgas is a member of the I.O.O.F. and Knights of Pythias, and is Captain of the Madison Division, No. 10 of K. of P. He has held this office for two years."
The K. of P. is the fraternal organization, Knights of Pythias, which was based in the building behind the Jefferson County Courthouse facing Jefferson Street – the one with the castle-like battlement on the left side.
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.