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.

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Portrait of a Young Child by Robert Mumbrauer

The usually workmanlike Robert C. Mumbrauer created an unusually sensitive portrait of an unidentified young child in this cabinet card photograph.

Although faded and marred with foxing, the child’s face, dramatically lit from the side, remains clearly discernible. Her large eyes and sad expression are haunting.

The card mount’s pink back and elaborate advertising are typical of the 1890s. Note the conventional association of photography with reflected nature (fern fronds; clustered swirls representing a stylized mirror of water) and with painting (the easel and palette).

Also notable: the spelling of the town’s name has been anglicized from “Hermann” to “Herman.”

 

 

 

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St. Paul Catholic Church, Berger Missouri

Although the photographer who created this image of St. Paul Catholic Church in Berger, Missouri is not identified, it certainly belongs on a site dedicated to images of the Hermann area. Berger is only eight miles southeast of Hermann, across the Franklin County line.

On the back is written “Berger Catholic Church.” A childish hand has added “Miss Gatzemeyer Berger Mo.”

I acquired this photo along with a portrait of a Franciscan nun and friar. A friar can be seen standing in front of the church doors, to the right of two little girls and an older man.

A brief history of the church posted on the web by Geneaology Trails says this building was dedicated in 1888, and that Boeuf Township farmer August Gatzemeyer (b. March 1825, Germany; d. 1901) was among the trustees. The founders of St. Paul were originally part of St. George, a Hermann congregation.

Hermann’s St. George Catholic Church was served by the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart (St. Louis) until 2002, so perhaps the same order served St. Paul.

It seems likely this photo was owned by one of Mr. Gatzemeyer’s descendants. August’s son Richard Gatzemeyer (b. August 1866, Missouri) became a photographer; perhaps he took this photo, and the two little girls might be two of Richard’s daughters, Josephine (b. 1890), Amanda (b. 1892), and Lulu (b. 1896).

Mark Scott Abeln has a contemporary photograph of St. Paul, taken head-on, on his excellent blog “Rome of the West.”

See also Abeln’s informative and beautifully illustrated post on St. George Catholic Church, Hermann.

Spring Sisters

Cabinet card of two white-clad young women (found by Kathy Wieland).

This cabinet card from the Mumbrauer studio in Hermann, Missouri depicts two young women clad in flowing white. The girls wear what appear to be real flowers at the waist and throat. Their intimate pose, the older girl’s arm reaching protectively toward the younger, suggests they might be closely related.

The fluid, natural style of their loose, flowing gowns, without bustle or corset, marks a decided break with 19th century fashion. Their hair style is, however, quite old-fashioned: bangs of frizzed curls, hair pulled back and pinned low on the head behind that had been popular from the 1880s on.

Mumbrauer uses a relatively subdued, tasteful painted background, and eschews the gimmicky props of the past decades. The only vestigial trace of 1880s faux rusticity is the fake grass on the floor.

The photo definitely has an air of occasion about it. Could it have been taken as a part of one of Hermann’s annual Maifest celebrations?

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Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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Girl With Papier Mache Urn: Lydia J. A. Bade Rohlfing

Cabinet card portrait of Lydia Bade Rohlfing, found by Kathy Wieland of FamilyWe Search.com.

This portrait of an awkward teenage girl teetering on the edge of womanhood was identified as “Lydia Bade (Mrs. Arnold Rohlfing).”

Born 20 March 1880 in Franklin County, Missouri to German immigrant farmer William F. Bade and Johanna Elizabeth Peters Bade, Lydia married Franklin County farmer Arnold P. Rohlfing about 1900. The Rohlfings had three children: Florence, Oliver L., and Irwin W. Rohlfing.

The awkwardness of adolescence is magnified by the incongruous setting: Tall, skinny Lydia, in a black  dress stretched tight over her thin  chest, stands by a papier mache faux urn that is just beginning to tip from the pressure of her hand.

Her dress’s fashionable standing-puff sleeves place the photo ca. early 1890s. Contemporary fashion advice for young ladies advised that “frocks . . . should increase in length with advancing years until at age twelve they should reach the ankle” (Ladies Home Journal, May 1891, quoted in Severa, Dressed for the Photographer (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995). Her hair is done in up-to-date fashion, pulled back tightly into a knot, with a curled fringe of bangs.

The white card mount with blind-embossed decorative edges and a more subdued advertising design also locates this cabinet card photograph in the 1890s.

Lydia Bade Rohlfing died “six miles south of Berger,” in rural Boeuf Township, Franklin County, on 19 Nov 1943. She and her husband are buried in Senate Grove Cemetery, Berger.

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Youth and Age: Two Hermann Couples

Another batch of card photographs by the Robert C. Mumbrauer Studio arrived this week, courtesy of the intrepid Kathy Wieland.

These two cabinet cards of wedded couples–one at the start of married life, one in middle age–are both quite conventional but display some interesting affinities and differences.

The two men resemble each other–perhaps father and son? Kathy acquired these from the same source, so it is possible these photographs came from the same family album.

Card photograph collector and historian William C. Darrah notes that the pose of the middle aged couple became a convention. In his comments on portraiture poses, the first discussed is that of husband and wife:

“Among the more abundant surviving carte de visite portraits are those of newly  married couples and husband and wife at various ages. The most striking convention is the almost universally used pose of the husband seated and the wife standing, with one hand on her husband’s shoulder. Mayall photographed Queen Victoria in this position, her hand on Prince Albert’s shoulder” (Darrah, Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography, p. 36).

Newlyweds, by contrast, were fairly often photographed “with the partners standing, the husband usually to the right of the wife” (Darrah, Cartes, p. 36)

The reverse of the cabinet card of the middle-aged couple  has advertising (see center image), while that of the young couple does not. The mount of the newlyweds’ photo is a dull green with beveled edges and gilt lettering.

Based on Darrah’s dating of  backmark styles, the advertising on the reverse of the middle-aged couple’s photo might be ca. 1875-1878.

I’m a novice at dating dress, so take the following with a big grain of salt. My reference text is Joan Severa’s Dressed for the Photographer.

The dress of the dignified and still-slim woman, with its long, buttoned bodice, white silk bow and elaborately cut overskirt finished with deep knife pleats might be ca. 1878- early 1880s.

The bride’s wedding dress, by contrast, appears to lack an  over-skirt. It has tight sleeves with just a hint of a shoulder puff, and a high, frilled neckline. Her hair is a close cap of tight waves parted at the center.

Both couples are posed against interior backdrops. It’s unclear whether the grass that appears in the middle-aged couple’s photo is real or fake. Mumbrauer spent a number of years as a traveling photographer during the 1870s.

If I had to guess, I’d say the wedding portrait is later than the middle-aged couple, but I am not at all confident this is accurate.

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Emma Trautwein and Joda Allen, 1894

Cabinet photograph of Emma Trautwein and Joda Allen (found by Kathy Wieland), Mumbrauer Studio, 1894.

Emma Julia Trautwein (1868-1943) and Joda, aka John, M. Allen, both of Bollinger County, Missouri, were married on 15 August 1894 in Lutesville, Bollinger County. This Robert C. Mumbrauer cabinet card photograph, found by Kathy Wieland,  memorializes their wedding. Because it was taken in Hermann, I suspected they had relations there.

Based on my research, Emma was the daughter of Ferdinand P. Trautwein (1841-1909) and Amelia H. Guntner Trautwein (1849-1913), who are buried in Hermann City Cemetery.

Ferdinand Trautwein was a miller. “Trautwein’s Mill” is mentioned twice in Anna Kemper Hesse’s book Little Germany on the Missouri: The Photographs of Edward Kemper.  Hesse locates the Trautwein mill as in the First Creek area. It was, she relates, the place chosen in the fall of 1864 as a bivouac by a “a group of Confederate officers in the vanguard of General Price’s army” (p. 75)

Emma’s uncle Eduard Trautwein married Jacobine Langendoerfer, the daughter of Roark Township farmer Francis J. (aka Franz Jacob) Langendoerfer, whose sons Fritz and August became well-known viticulturists and vintners in Hermann.  In 1867 they built the St. Charles Wine Hall, later known as “The Landing,” at 4 Schiller Street in Hermann. The building is now a restaurant called Simon’s on the Waterfront.

Explore more about the Langendoerfer family in David V. Agricola’s book on Langendoerfer genealogy. According to his research, Franz Jacob Langendoerfer immigrated to the Hermann area in 1838 and started cultivating grapes on Frene Creek in 1843.

I have not yet been able to determine much about Joda Allen except that he may have been born in Indiana. Emma identified herself as a widow in the 1910 census, when she was living in St. Louis with a son, accountant John Edward F. Allen, and her mother Amelia.

Emma is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, possibly in St. Louis County, but as there are about 20 cemeteries named Oak Grove in Missouri, her actual place of burial is not yet certain.

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cabinet Photos of Two Young People, Hermann

These two cabinet card photographs taken at the Mumbrauer Studio in Hermann use the vignetted bust style. Only the head and shoulders are shown, with the background and rest of the body burnt out to create the effect of a portrait floating in clouds.

Both images were a bit faded, most likely from exposure to sunlight, so I have manipulated the images to heighten contrast and reduce brighteness.

The card mount for the young woman’s photograph has the serrated edges that were popular ca. 1890-1899.

According to clothing historian Joan Severa, puffed sleeves in various styles were popular throughout the 1890s, growing more exaggerated as the decade progressed. This young woman’s sleeves are full and drooping at the upper arm; after 1895 sleeve puffs became much stiffer and wider. The elaborate decorative work high on the bodice, sometimes called “neck dressing,” suggests this dress cost more than most.

The young man’s photograph is mounted on a card with rounded corners and green printing, styles that were current a decade earlier, ca. 1880-1889. He has the short, slicked-down haircut, turned-down collar points, and snug jacket buttoned high at the throat that were typical ’90s styles for men.

Neither of these two photographs, found by Kathy Wieland, have identifications, and both are blank on the back.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wedding Couple, Hermann

This Mumbrauer Studio cabinet card of a Hermann bride and groom, found by Kathy Wieland, has a white mount with serrated edges and gilt printing. Serrated-edge mounts were used between 1890 and 1899, although photographers continued to use up left0ver card stock in spite of fashion.

This might be a Catholic couple; one source I have read suggests only Catholic brides wore special white gowns and held ceremonies in churches.

Visible behind the bride’s left shoulder is a painted backdrop depicting a “view” through a doorway into a well-appointed drawing room.

Published in: on September 5, 2010 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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