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?

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

Strothmann Sons: Oscar, Royal, and William

From left: Oscar, Royal and William H. Strothmann (image courtesy of Susan Strothmann Brooks)

In a previous post about Berger, Missouri’s St. Paul Catholic church, I discovered that Berger had its own, homegrown professional photographer: Richard Louis Gatzemeyer (1866-1945). Susan Strothmann Brooks recently found my blog and sent me the first professional Gatzemeyer portrait I’ve seen.

Richard, the son of Franklin County farmers August Gatzemeyer and Josephine (Berends) Gatzemeyer, kept a general store with his wife, Mary (Kotthoff) Gatzemeyer; he also farmed and, surprisingly, may have traveled to Japan in the 1930s.

This cabinet card photograph depicts three of the sons of Berger farmers Frederick Christian Strothmann (1847-1933) and Anna Maria (Drewell) Strothmann (1857-1922).

Gatzemeyer posed the three symmetrically and rather formally grouped around a small table. All the props of mid-nineteenth century portraiture are present: The painted backdrop, draperies, and (rather incongruously) a fur throw rug, all arranged to evoke an upper middle class parlor.

With Royal positioned standing in the center between his two seated brothers, the three men form a triangle, echoing the triangular upward sweep created by the drapes on either side of the composition.

The young men are dressed in their best suits, and as if their clothes, posture and expressions were not enough to indicate their seriousness, William’s hand rests on what appears to be a book of hymns.

While firmly anchored in the nineteenth century tropes of studio portraiture, the plain dark gray card mount  and simple advertising mark places this photograph in the early 1900s.

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Published in: on September 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Perhaps Permilia Strothmann by Charles German

Portrait of Permilia or Louise Strothmann by Charles German (image courtesy of Susan Strothmann Brooks)

This cabinet card photograph, taken by Hermann photographer Charles German ca. 1900, may be either Permilia Johanna Strothmann or her younger sister Louise Margaretha Strothmann.

Permilia and Louisa were two of the five children of Franklin County, Mo. farmers Frederick Strothmann and Maria Drewell Strothmann (click on link to compare).

Charles German was born in July 1864 to German immigrant carpenter Henry German and his Missouri-born wife Eliza Summers German. Charles was set to learn the cooper’s trade, but sometime between 1880 and 1900, Charles learned photography.

For a time, Hermann photographer Robert C. Mumbrauer and Charles German were partners, but thanks to contributions by  Susan Strothmann Brooks, it’s become clear that German operated Mumbrauer’s studio at 4th and Schiller streets under his own name for an unknown period.

Since Mumbrauer had another career as a sheriff and railroad detective, it seems plausible that he either rented or sold the studio to German for a time. The Western Historical Manuscript Collection has one cabinet card marked “Mumbrauer & German, Berger, Mo.” that is dated 1895.

By 1910, German had put aside professional photography and became a Hermann saloon keeper. In later years he worked as a janitor. He died in 1947 at the age of 82 and is buried in Hermann City Cemetery.

Unfortunately, three of this image’s four edges have been cut off during scanning, but at right one can see that the card mount has a scalloped or serrated edge. This edge, along with the less obtrusive green printing of the photographer’s mark, places the mount ca. 1890-1899.

The more subtle background, too, sans the old false painted backgrounds and papier mache tree stumps, marks a turn-of-the-century shift to a simpler, less gimmicky portrait style.

According to costume historian Joan Severa, the young woman’s dress, possibly black silk, featuring a wide, ruffled bertha collar, dates to the mid- to late-1890s (Severa, Dressed for the Photographer).

Carefully lit to highlight the still-babyish lips, large dark eyes and turned up nose, German’s sensitive portrait captures a girl poised on the edge of young womanhood.

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The Stroethmann Children

 Cabinet card of the children of Frederick and Maria Drewell Stroethmann, ca. 1895,  by R. C. Mumbrauer, Hermann, Missouri (found by Kathy Wieland)

This ca. 1895 example depicting the children of Franklin County, Missouri farmers Frederick Stroethmann (b. 1847, Germany) and Maria (Drewell) Stroethmann  (b. 1857, Berger, Franklin Co., Mo.) displays features common to cabinet cards produced during the 1880s and 1890s: the gold-hued photo appears to be an albumen print, mounted on cream press-board. The name and location of the studio appear on the bottom of the card, without artwork on the back, and the edges are decoratively scalloped.

Stroethmann descendant Susan Strothmann Brooks has been able to give tentative identifications to these children:

“I do not have the photo that you sent me of the Strothmann children.  However, I do have a photo of the family with the children older.   As I look at the Strothmann children [in this] photo, I would say Royal (1887-1966) is the boy in back, on the right is Johanna Permelia (1881-1971), on the left is Louise Margaretha (1879-1937), Johanes Oscar (1885-?), and Hermann Karl Wilhelm (1892-1958) is in the center.”

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Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 11:42 am  Comments (1)