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 mountĀ  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