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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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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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)

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).

Edward J. Kemper, Viticulturalist and Photographer

It is impossible to talk about photography in Gasconade County without speaking of Edward J. Kemper.

Kemper, an orchardist and viticulturalist, was also a gifted amateur photographer. Thanks to his daughter, Anna Kemper Hesse, Kemper’s work has been permanently preserved and made known to a wider audience.

Kemper took photos of his family, friends, neighbors, and of the town of Hermann and environs, between 1895 and 1920. Over 100 of his photos, printed from the original glass plates, appear in Little Germany on the Missouri: The Photographs of Edward J. Kemper, 1895-1920, published by the University of Missouri Press in 1998.

Noted contemporary Missouri photographer Oliver A. Shuchard, who made the prints for the book, wrote that Kemper’s “photographs draw on his roots in Hermann and therefore embody the inner character of the town in ways an outside observer cannot achieve. Therein lies their uniqueness, beauty, and evocative power” (Little Germany, 36). The original glass plate negatives were donated to Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri-Columbia by Anna Kemper Hesse.

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.