The Woman Behind the Camera: Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer

Recently I was excited to receive a communication from a relation of the Mumbrauer family with new information about how the Mumbrauer Studio operated after Charles George Mumbrauer married.

According to Andrew Hahn, it was Charles’s wife, Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer (1886-1960), who ran things.

Portrait of Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, circa 1920, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Hand-tinted portrait of Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, circa 1920, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

“She really took all the photos in the later years of the studio. Charles had a job in St. Louis and was only occasionally in Hermann in his last years,” Hahn says. “My grandmother told me he had many ‘girlfriends’ in St. Louis and that Amanda ran the Hermann photo studio, took and printed all the photos.”

Portrait of Charles George Mumbrauer, ca. 1925, courtesy of Andrew Hahn

Portrait of Charles George Mumbrauer, ca. 1925, courtesy of Andrew Hahn

“My grandmother told me that the camera she used was large ‘with a lens that grandfather Mumbrauer had used 50 years earlier.’ “She described Amanda as using a black cloak like in the cartoons to cover herself and the camera when she took pictures.”

Hand-colored portrait of Janet Bremer and Charles Emery Mumbrauer, ca. 1932, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Andrew’s grandmother, Janet Bremer, married Charles Emery Mumbrauer, son of Charles and Amanda. Andy has begun sharing some of the many photos he inherited from an album assembled by Janet Bremer Mumbrauer in 1937. (Emery and Janet divorced in 1938.)

“I have always thought these photos,” Hahn recalls, “have a special glow about them.”

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Portrait of Emery’s first wife and daughter, Jane Bremer Mumbrauer and Nancy Mumbrauer, taken by Amanda Schuermann Mumbrauer, courtesy of Andrew Hahn.

Andrew W. Hahn is Executive Director of the Campbell House Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. He was previously curator of the corporate art collection of A.G. Edwards and Sons, a St. Louis brokerage firm, whose collection has since been absorbed into the Wells Fargo collection.

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Berger Priest and Nun by Charles Mumbrauer

Charles Mumbrauer took over his father’s photographic studio in Hermann after Robert C. Mumbrauer’s death in 1917. Charles ran the studio off and on until his death in 1935.

This portrait of an unidentified nun and a Franciscan priest is the first photograph I’ve acquired that is marked “C. Mumbrauer.” It was found with two early 1900s photographs of Berger, Missouri churches:  Immanuel Methodist Church of Senate Grove in New Haven and St. Paul Roman Catholic Church, Berger.

St. Paul was served by the Order of St. Francis, and the priest certainly appears to be Franciscan. He may have belonged to the same order that served St. George Catholic Church in Hermann, the Order of the Sacred Heart.

The photograph is mounted in an oversize, tri-fold presentation folder–one of a long series of mount innovations by photographic studios as they attempted to stimulate interest in portrait photography.

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The Gnadts and the Tschapplers of Osage County, Missouri

Karen Barton, a native of Chamois, Osage County, has generously shared a number of family photos taken by Robert C. Mumbrauer and son Charles.  As Karen teaches me about her family tree, I will post her Mumbrauer portraits.

Osage Co. farmer Ludwig Julius Gnadt (b. 1846, Pommern) married Augusta Steinke (b. 1850, Osage Co.) in 1871. Mumbrauer photgraphed the couple in a conventional marital pose of the period, ca. 1910 (personal collection of Karen Hanson).

Ludwig Julius Gnadt (b. 5 July 1846, Pommern) and Samuel Tschappler (b. Osage County, Mo.) were neighboring farmers in Benton Township, Osage County. Samuel married one of Julius’ younger sisters, Ernestina Marie Gnadt (b. 1854, Pommern).

One of Samuel and Ernestina’s sons, Herbert John Tschappler (b. 1890, Osage Co.), became both a farmer and an engineer.

The portrait of Herbert below was taken by Mumbrauer Sr. around 1908. The young man, wearing a soft western-style hat, has turned his handsome, straightforward gaze slightly away from the camera.

Farmer and engineer Herbert John Schappler (b. 1890, Fredericksburg, Gasconade Co.), had his portrait taken by Mumbrauer ca. 1908 (personal collection of Karen Barton).

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.

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