Berger Baby Bennie Bayer, July 1902

Carte de visite portrait identified as "Bennie Bayer, age 5 weeks, July 1902"

Carte de visite portrait identified as “Bennie Bayer, age 5 weeks, July 1902”

Awhile ago, in a post about Berger’s Catholic church, I wrote briefly about Berger, Missouri photographer Richard Louis Gatzemeyer (1866-1945), son of German immigrant farmer August Gatzemeyer.

Berger was and is a hamlet that began as a railroad station about halfway between Hermann and New Haven. Its current population is about 221. The village recently voted to tax itself to pay for the first sewer system in its history. So it’s surprising that such a village should have its own photography studio.

Not surprisingly, photography was not Gatzemeyer’s only means of support. It may have been more of an avocation. The 1900 census lists Gatzemeyer’s occupation as a “photographer” on Rosalie Street, in Berger, but with a wife and four–by 1910 five–children to support, it must have been extremely difficult to make ends meet in such a small town. By 1910, Gatzemeyer gave his occupation as manager of a general store, and in 1920, farmer.

By 1930, he and most of his family had left Missouri–some to settle in Los Angeles, others in Idaho. Richard Gatzemeyer died in Los Angeles, and is buried in Hermann City Cemetery, Hermann Missouri.

Benjamin E. Bayer was the son of Buffalo, New York native Henry Earnest Bayer (1866-), who in 1910 was farming in Salisbury, Chariton County, Missouri, about 140 miles north of Berger. But Bayer had apprenticed as a plumber back in Buffalo, and he returned to that trade in Malvern, Hot Spring Co., Arkansas.

Benjamin followed his father into the plumbing business. He died in Port Arthur, Texas in 1983. He and his wife, Orean Frazier Bayer, are buried in Greenlawn Memorial Park, Groves, Jefferson Co., Texas.

Gatzemeyer took this portrait, identified on the back as “Bennie Bayer” on July 13, 1902. As I mentioned in a previous post, photographers devised various ways of keeping mothers out of the frame. Here you can clearly see a supporting arm to the right.

Now, 140 miles is a long way to go to have a portrait taken. So who or what brought the Bayers to Berger in July 1902?

mumbrauer_logo

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

The Face That Piloted a Thousand Steamboats?

Could this be a portrait of William L. “Steamboat Bill” Heckmann?

Reverse of carte de visite portrait of an unidentified young man.

Sometimes you buy photographs in ignorance and only later realize their significance.

This carte de visite portrait of a young man, taken at the studio of Robert C. Mumbrauer, was not identified. But when I sat down to look at it, the face reminded me of someone I had seen in another Mumbrauer photograph.

It was the face of one of the four young men who posed with an African-American boy in a Mumbrauer and German  card photograph belonging to the Western Historical Manuscript Collection.

That photo was taken at Chamois in 1895. It came from the William L. Heckmann Jr. scrapbooks at the WHMC.

Only three complete names are given, and it is unclear which name goes with which individual. The names written in the scrapbook are “George Patton, Bill Heckman, Pumpkin Patton, and Andy.”

The man in this photo looks an awful lot like one of the two men on the left side of the photograph. Could it be that I have stumbled upon a portrait of the well-known steamboat pilot, “Steamboat Bill” Heckmann (1869-1957)–author of the classic 1950 memoir of river life, Steamboating: Sixty-Five years on Missouri’s Rivers?

I wrote to  The Museum at the German School in Hermann, which has significant holdings on steam boat history on the Missouri and Gasconade rivers, including a complete pilot-house in their River Room.

They referred me to the Gasconade County Historical Society. Here is my correspondent’s response:

“I asked a colleague to look at two group family photos that we have, which I did not identify to her, to see if your subject, at another stage of life, might be in either of the group photos. In both cases, she picked out the man identified as William Heckmann, Jr. In her words, ‘It was the nose.’ “

I’ve also sent the photograph to the Herman T. Pott National Waterways Library, to which Dorothy Heckmann Schrader, daughter of steamboat Captain Ed Heckmann, has donated a substantial archive of texts and images.

Stay tuned.

mumbrauer_logo

Mumbrauer Photos in the Western Historical Manuscript Collection

The Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri, Columbia holds four of Robert C. Mumbrauer’s cabinet card photos in its special collections. Three of them were donated by Boonville, Mo. native Charles van Ravenswaay, a former director of the State Historical Society of Missouri. Van Ravenswaay’s meticulously researched and documented volume, The Arts and Architecture of German Settlements in Missouri, published in 1977, remains the definitive  text in its field.

The first cabinet card below poses four well-dressed women holding a photograph. It may have been taken as a mourning card, or to commemorate an event. The golden hue of the photograph indicates an albumen print.  The simple ivory-colored mount and the style of the women’s clothing suggests this portrait was taken in the 1870s, when dresses featured elaborate, apron-like overskirts and tight-fitting bodices and sleeves. The card’s reverse advertises the photographer and his location. As the century progressed, cabinet card mounts and advertising became more elaborate.

Front of R.C. Mumbrauer cabinet card of four unidentified women (Charles van Ravenswaay Papers, Western Historical Manuscript Collection)

Reverse of R.C. Mumbrauer cabinet card of four unidentified women (Charles van Ravenswaay Papers, Western Historican Manuscript Collection)

The next card below, dated 1895, marked Mumbrauer & German, Chamois, Mo., features four white men and an African-American boy.  The hand-written note locates the place this photo was taken as the “Chamois revetment,” in Osage County. The Chamois revetment was built in the late 1890s at Chamois Bend on the Missouri River to impede erosion.

The standing men pose in a relaxed manner, and are dressed casually, in shirtsleeves, while the boy,  barefoot and seated on a piece of faux stonework (a common studio prop), holds a bouquet of flowers. This unusual tableau appears to have been influenced by classical images of the Greek koros, or youth, in the vigor of the spring of life, but the use of a barefoot African American child puts a peculiarly American spin on this image.

The card comes from the William L. Heckmann, Jr. scrapbooks. Heckmann (1869-1957) was a Hermann, Missouri steamboat pilot. His memoir is called Steamboating: Sixty-Five Years on Missouri’s Rivers (1950). Heckmann is second from left.

According to Dorothy Heckmann Schrader’s memoir Steamboat Treasures, Bill Heckmann Jr. worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’  Missouri River improvement project from 1894 to 1900 (49).  He may have been piloting the government “sternwheel towboat” Arethusa when this photograph was taken.

Mumbrauer and German cabinet card of George Patton, Bill Heckman, Pumpkin Patton, and Andy (William Heckman Jr. Scrapbooks, 1869-1957, Western Historical Manuscript Collection)

Robert C. Mumbrauer: Hermann’s First Photographer

Mumbrauer Studio 1892

Robert C. Mumbrauer’s Photography Studio in Hermann, Missouri, 1892. Note displays of photographs.

Robert C. Mumbrauer’s photography studio on Schiller Street, in Hermann, Missouri, was built in 1892. An 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows the location of the studio at Schiller and East Second streets (see link at right). The building  has been continuously occupied by photographers for 110 years.

After Mumbrauer’s sudden death in 1917, son Charles George Mumbrauer took over the photography business until his death in 1935. The Mumbrauers’ small  home on East Second Street, built about 1887, is just around the corner and still in use as a bed and breakfast called the Mumbrauer Gasthaus.

Hermann Photography Studio 1950s

The studio as it appeared in the 1950s under the Powers name

From 1935 to 1952, it was known as the Powers Studio. William Fricke bought the business from Powers and ran it until the 1980s, when his son, Brad Fricke, stepped in.

The current owner, photographer Bryon Raterman, took over the Fricke name in 1993.

Fricke Studio, Hermann Missouri

The Fricke Studio Today

Although the building facade, entrance and display windows were drastically altered over the years, Mumbrauer’s initials remain visible.

Robert C. Mumbrauer was born in a place called Schelda, in the Kingdom of Hannover, in 1851. He arrived in Hermann with his parents, Karl and Friederike Sophia Thiene Mumbrauer, before 1860.

Mumbrauer's Initials in Building Facade

Robert Mumbrauer’s initials and the date he built the studio

Karl Mumbrauer was a tailor. During the Civil War,  Karl served in Company B of the 4th Missouri Infantry. He survived, returned home and took up tailoring again.

Friederike died in 1901, and Karl followed in 1903.

Reverse of an R. C. Mumbrauer carte de visite, on green card stock, of an unidentified woman and children (found by Kathy Wieland).

Reverse of an R. C. Mumbrauer carte de visite, on green card stock, of an unidentified woman and children (found by Kathy Wieland).

Robert’s path was different.He taught himself how to use a camera, trained in St. Louis for a year,  and traveled  the Missouri River valley with  a mobile studio, taking photos of Gasconade, Osage, and Franklin County settlers.

In 1873, he married Amelia Carey. After continuing to do peripatetic portrait work for several years, he was able to settle down to business in Hermann around 1876.

His stock in trade would have been the cabinet card–a roughly 4″ x 6″ paper photograph mounted on a variety of pressboard or cardboard backgrounds, usually with the studio name and location on front, back, or both.

Reverse of cabinet card photo of a middle-aged couple, Mumbrauer Studio.

Reverse of cabinet card photo of a middle-aged couple, Mumbrauer Studio.

The studio business made it possible for. Robert and Ameiia to build a home on Second Street, where they raised seven children: Albert, Margaret Mumbrauer Epperson, Charles, Walter, Rosa Mumbrauer Locher, Ella Mumbrauer Petrus, and Frances Mumbrauer McCarty.

Albert attended the School of Fine Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, then came back to Hermann. Walter and his wife, Emma Kurrelmeyer Mumbrauer, moved to St. Louis.

Robert,  Robert’s parents, Robert’s wife Amelia, and their children Albert, Walter, Charles, and Ella are buried in Hermann Cemetery. Margaret is entombed in the mausoleum.

Reverse of an R. C. Mumbrauer cabinet card portrait of a young child.

Reverse of an R. C. Mumbrauer cabinet card portrait of a young child.

Robert, and then his son, Charles George Mumbrauer, documented the people of Hermann and environs for about 65 years. Some of his photo cabinet cards are marked New Haven and Chamois, nearby villages on the Missouri.

Their work is scattered in a thousand family albums–cabinet cards, cartes de visite, and photographic postcards portraying the life of the people around them, indoors and out. What happened to their vast collection? If you know, I’d like to hear. Contact me at waldonia2000 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Infinite thanks  to Bryon Raterman, who shared photos of the Hermann studio building with me and told me about the history of the building. Deepest gratitude to Kathy Wieland, of FamilyWeSearch.com, who has found a number of Mumbrauer photographs and shares my interest in this project.

Read an 1888  biographical sketch of Robert Mumbrauer.

mumbrauer_logo

You can view Bryon Raterman’s work at www.frickestudio.com.