Tag Archives: Crawfordsville Indiana

Mrs. Willis and Son Photographers

A great photo of this husband and wife, if not quite as well made as some.  You can see the jewelry of the wife and her black lace collar.  One feature that dates this photo to around 1887 is the geometric line below the photo and above the studio imprint.  Also, the gentleman’s jacket buttoned at the very top.

Another interesting fact is the photographer who took this was a woman.  There were quite a few women photographers in the late 1800’s.  Many started helping their husband’s or father’s with photography and ended up being one!

This photo was taken by Ella Willis, or possibly one of her sons, Nathaniel Parker Willis or Lewis Willis.  The father and husband, Abner Delmar Willis, was a photographer in Crawford, Illinois, from 1866 through 1892, when age forced him to give up his work.  At that time the studio continued as Mrs. Willis and Son, as listed at the bottom of this photo.

But twenty years before that date, she was making photographs of her own – with her cards listing Ella Willis Art Studio, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Perhaps she was on a level with her husband?  His cards read, A. D. Willis, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Such a modern woman – with a husband that appreciated her talent!

Son Parker Willis had his name on cards – possibly after his mother retired – or before!  A family of photographers.

Old Photo of Sweet Older Couple from Crawfordsville Indiana

couple-1Don’t you just love this photo?  This little old woman and little old man are just adorable!  The flowing beard of the gentleman looks as if it would be soft to the touch.  Neither of my grandfathers had beards – I’ve always wanted to touch one of this length.  At one time my son’s beard was about this length – very thick and full – but not the soft white hair of the aged.  Both have kind eyes, and, I’m sure, gentle souls.  The scissors brooch at the woman’s neck must be in evidence of her prowess as a seamstress!  I saw a similar one on Ebay and Google.  I would date this photo to the early 1880’s.

We don’t know the names of the couple, but we do know the photo was taken by Champion & Ficken Photographic Studio in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Allen Champion was a photographer there 1880-1900.

Old Couple From Crawfordsville, Indiana

scan027I’m sharing with you today two photos that were framed together when I purchased them.  I feel they must be husband and wife.  As you can tell they are older, past the prime of their life, but the photos are very special.

The gentleman above wears what looks like an Amish beard.  Or perhaps that was the style at this time and place.  Deep wrinkles are etched in his brow.  How I would love to know his name and story!

scan028-1The Mrs. is quite beautiful, even in her older years – smooth cheeks with just a few wrinkles around the mouth and on her forehead.  Look closely to see the pattern in the material of her dress – the white lace at her throat sets it off perfectly.

The photos were taken by Lawson, Superior Finish, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Crawfordsville is a small town of about 16,000 people.  It seems during the 1870’s, when these photos were probably taken, there were several photographers in town!

Photographs by Nicholson and Sons in Crawfordsville Indiana

Sorry I’m a bit late this morning – have had problems with the internet!  Wasn’t quite like the commercials where I was in a ball on the floor crying, but did wonder about getting my blog posted!

Today I have four photographs taken by Nicholson and Sons located in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Unfortunately I could find nothing on this photographer – although, according to the photos, he must have been in business for quite some time.  The first three are cabinet cards, the last an oval on a grey background.

scan227-1This dapper young gent is a good example of the 1870’s fashion which includes a more fitting jacket with smaller lapels and buttoned at the top.  This gave a great glimpse of the vest, which we are unable to see in this head and shoulders shot.  But look at his fantastic tie!  Very, very wide – perhaps the widest I’ve seen – but I love the fabric design!  If only the photo was in color!

scan228-1Wish this weren’t only a head shot – I wanted to see her dress!  Do you notice just a hint of smile on her lips?  Nice lace collar and brooch.  No way to date this photo – or is there?  We can’t date from the woman’s dress, but we do know that the scalloped edges, as shown on this photo, were from the late 1890’s and continued until 1900.  Now we can imagine the huge leg ‘o mutton sleeves that this woman probably was wearing!

scan229Just a lovely family photo, from the little one perched on the mother’s knee (hard to tell if it is a boy or girl since they were dressed much the same when little), to the handsome little boy and his parents!  According to the mother’s dress I would date this to the late 1880’s/early 1890’s.  But more importantly, the dark green color gives us a very important clue.  The previous two photos have a white or ivory background (sometimes hard to tell because of age!).  Dark colored cards were introduced in the late 1880’s.  Green is rarer than the more usual maroon and black.  You can see the name and address of the photographer better on the dark cards, so it was good for advertising!  In the late 1880’s the cards were colored only on the front, but by 1890 most cards had color front and back.

scan230Voila!  I believe this dates our photo as I suggested – late 1880’s to early 1890’s.  Since this back imprint covers the card and is rather intricate we can date it to our same time period.  Notice the card back gives specific instructions to find the studio – ‘First stairway east of Courthouse on Main Street.’

scan231-1Our last photo is of a lovely woman with a very high collar and brooch.  Just the color and size of the card indicates it to be taken around 1900.  I could not find much about Nicholson Photography (on this card the name is Nicholson’s Sons – probably the father has retired or possibly passed away by this point), but I did find a photograph exactly like the one above of Carrie Nation!  She visited Crawfordsville, Indiana, on July 4, 1901 – when this photo was taken!


Catherine Rose McMurtry Buried At Spring Hill Cemetery


Catharine, wife of John McMurtry and daughter of Captain Lewis Rose, born November 21, 1780, died September 1, 1867.  Spring Hill Cemetery, Mercer County, Kentucky.

Catharine Rose was born in 1780 to Lewis Rose and Barbara Trayer, in Mercer County, Kentucky.  She married John McMurtry January 14, 1797, in Mercer County, Kentucky.  John McMurtry was born in 1776 and died in 1812 – perhaps fighting in the War of 1812? – after fifteen years of marriage.  Catherine lived on, raising their children.  In the 1850 Mercer County Census she is living alone, aged 70.  In 1860, again, she is living alone, aged 79, with a personal estate worth $12,000.  She was a true pioneer woman, living during the Indian Wars.  Her father, Captain Rose, fought in the Battle of Blue Lick in 1782, and was taken prisoner by the Indians.  He was taken to Canada, where he was finally exchanged in 1783, and returned to Harrodsburg in August of that year.  Catharine was three years of age at that time, and her mother, Barbara, continued to run the farm and shield her children from Indian raids.

Is This The Same Woman?


This photo was sent to me by Mary Lancaster of Logan County, Kentucky.  It was in a group of 48 that arrived in the mail last week!  This particular photo interests me because the woman looks exactly like the woman in two photos I bought in Clinton, Tennessee.  This was taken by Lawson Photographers in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  All three photos are cabinet cards.


The second and third photos were taken by Pratts Studio, E. C. Pratt Proprietor, corner of Batavia Avenue and First Street, Batavia, Illinois.  These are definitely the same women – the same dress, hairstyle, glasses – and hair pin/comb.  Compared to the first photo you can tell the woman is slightly older in these photos.  Her dress is still exquisite – and costly, I’m sure.  In the third photo you can see the delicacy in the lacework and ruching of her dress.


What is your opinion?  Is it the same woman or two different women?  Does anyone recognize this woman?  I would love to know her name!

Surprise In The Mailbox!

The delightful people of Logan County, Kentucky, continue to amaze me!  Ritchey and I were welcomed with open arms into their genealogy society, their homes and hearts!  The last day in the area we stopped by the genealogy society one last time to make a copy of the back page of a photo – in my excitement I copied the photo, but not the writing on the back!  But as in an earlier blog, the coincidence was too great – it was meant to be!  We had the privilege of meeting Mary Lancaster, another of the ladies whose hearts beat genealogy!  In talking about my Kentucky Kindred blog I handed out my business card (that’s a total misnomer since it really isn’t a business) to all there and they brought the website up on the computer.  I talked about the great number of old photos I had found in the antique shops while there.  Mary asked what I did with them and I told her I shared them on my blog and Facebook page with other genealogy enthusiasts.  She then said she had some old photos she would send me – and I told her I would be delighted!

Yesterday they arrived in the mailbox!  Let me just say I was overwhelmed!  48 lovely photos of families, individuals, children!  Mary, you made my day and I sincerely thank you for your kindness!  All the photos in this post are from Mary Lancaster.


Look at this lovely little girl – her ringlet curls remind me of those of my own daughter when she was young!  Such a pensive look on such a little face!  There is no name listed on the back.  The photo was taken by Willis & McQuown in Crawfordsville, Indiana.


This is a great family photo!  I love that the older lady is clutching her husband’s arm – I’ve not noticed that as much, especially from this time period.  This is an older Cabinet Card, probably in the early 1870’s.  Perhaps this was a special occasion for the family?  No names, photographer or place listed.


Such a handsome gent!  He has a spiffy cravat and an elegant, stand-up collar!  This photo is also from Crawfordsville, Indiana, taken by Nicholson’s Sons!  It is 3.8×5.25 – I would estimate taken at the turn of the century to 1915.


How about these two boys!  They look very prim and proper, the hand of one resting on his brother’s shoulder!  But I believe there’s a bit of mischievousness just waiting to pop out after the photo was taken!   Another photo from Crawfordsville, Indiana, taken by J. Nicholson & Sons.  This is an older photo than the one above.  It is a cabinet card – a dark green card from 1890-1900, which is, I have read, hard to find.


At the top of the card you can see gold edging, very noticeable from the front.  This type of edging was available from 1890 on.


This last photo, also from Crawfordsville, taken by Lawson Photographers, looks to be an earlier card, perhaps 1870’s or early 80’s.  This lovely woman has a beautiful dress – wish it were a full-length photo!

Again, we have Mary Lancaster from Russellville, Kentucky, to thank for these wonderful photos – and many more to come in future posts!