Biographical Sketch for CDV-0101:
Harry E. Wallace & Chauncey Barnes. "Portrait of unknown ethnic Southern lady." Carte-de-visite, Mobile, Alabama, ca. 1870. Collection of Terry Ownby, PhD.
In this carte-de-visite, we see a vignetted portrait of a regally ethnic elder lady wearing a white or light colored lacy headscarf. Although her hair is white or light gray, her complexion is extremely smooth and fair. She bares the ethnic features of possibly Spanish or Creole descent. Additionally, she wears a matronly shawl over her shoulders, possibly depicting her religious values or her social standing in the community. The image has faded to the point it is hard to determine whether the headscarf and shawl are one and the same; most likely it is one garment. Unfortunately, there is no identification of this lady and her memory is lost to bygone days along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The cream colored card for this CDV, with its rounded corners, suggests a creation date in the early 1870s, possibly between 1871 and 1874. Condition of the overall image is rather good, considering its age. For a number of years I felt the image was fading considerably, but on closer examination, I believe this vignetted portrait was exposed using a high-key technique. There are minor tears in the card stock along the top each and minimal foxing in the albumen print.
However, from the verso, or backside of the CDV, interesting stories begin to unfold from the port city of Mobile, Alabama, during America’s Reconstruction Era. The photographers’ imprint (or backmark) appears to be in the style of a large rubber stamp that used purplish colored ink. Its imprint reads: “Wallace, Barnes & Co. Artist Photographers, 87 Dauphin St, Mobile, Ala.”
Backmark showing Wallace & Barnes' business imprint on photograph's verso.
Chauncey Barnes: Northern Slave Owning Photographer and Teacher
First, I will draw our attention to the elder protagonist in this story: Chauncey Barnes (b. ca. 1817, d. 1884). Mr. Barnes was a New York transplant[i] by way of Baltimore, Maryland. While data has not surfaced to indicate from whom Barnes learned his daguerreian art, he was certainly within the early wave of 1840s practitioners as America’s obsession with this European novelty swept the populace in its westward expansion. The Sun (Baltimore’s newspaper during the 1840s) and local city directories show that Barnes was a daguerreotypist operating at 163 Baltimore Street in 1844 and at 217 West Baltimore Street in 1845.[ii] [iii] Interestingly, in 1844, Barnes was also expanding studio operations to Mobile, Alabama, as evidenced by the 1844 Mobile city directory.
Harvey S. Teal, photo-history scholar and researcher of South Carolinian photographers, notes in Partners with the Sun: South Carolina Photographers 1840—1940, that it was common practice among Northern daguerreotypists from the eastern seaboard (principally Boston, New York, and Philadelphia[iv]) to travel throughout the South during winter months, establishing temporary studios in different towns and cities. These itinerant visits could last from a few days to several months, depending on business and the photographer’s preferences. Three primary Southern port cities factor into these dynamics, these were Charleston, South Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Many enterprising daguerreotypists of those early years created franchise studios or galleries and hired additional operators[v] to manage these studios on a more permanent basis during their absences. This may have been the case with Chauncey Barnes, as he managed operations in both Baltimore and Mobile during the mid-1840s. From his 1844 advertisement in the Mobile city directory (see figure below) we learn that he would furnish operators with stock, or studio working materials. This may have been in the form of daguerreotype plates and associated developing chemicals.
From Rinhart & Rinhart (1981), 1844 Mobile city directory with ad for Barnes' daguerrian gallery.
It was here at the Skylight Daguerrian Gallery, between 1844—1845,[viii] that Barnes trained a soon-to-be prominent itinerant photographer in the South, Professor Albert George Park. After training with Barnes, Prof. Park went on to work with such famous photographers George S. Cook in Charleston, South Carolina, and Matthew Brady in New York City. In fact, Park made rather bold claims in his Charleston newspaper advertisements when he declared in August 1853:
“His Gold Enameled and Chemically Colored Daguerreotypes which produced so much sensation in the City of New York, and which are now on exhibition at the World’s Fair are conceded by all connoisseurs to be far superior to any heretofore produced by the Photographic Art….The highest premium was awarded to Brady, of New York at the World’s Fair, for the best Daguerreotypes, and why it’s easily told. He secured the services of PARK, The Celebrated Southern Artist, while on a visit to the North, who made some of the finest Gems, exhibited in the Crystal Palace.”[ix]
Prof. Park was not the only photographer to be trained by Barnes, however. In 1852-53, he trained Isaac S. Clark the art of daguerreotyping. By 1855, Clark had set off as an itinerant to Tampa, Florida and returned the following year to continue working with Barnes in Mobile. James W. Turner learned to the art of ambrotyping from Barnes in 1859 and by 1860 he advertised himself as an ambrotypist in Boston, where he continued his photographic craft until 1881.[x] During the Reconstruction Era of the South after the Civil War, Barnes took under his tutelage the young Harry E. Wallace, who became his Mobile partner by 1870.
By 1852 he transferred all business operations to his new Southern coastal home.[xi] No historical data has presented itself as to why Barnes relocated to this Southern port city. Although, his father, Amasa Barnes in upstate New York, acknowledged his son’s living in Mobile, when he drew up his last-will-and-testament in 1850.[xii] Around his 30th birthday, Barnes married Lois Clark, on 27 September 1847, whose father, Asa Clark, was also from Oneida, New York.[xiii] Possibly they had been childhood friends and sweethearts. Between 1852 and 1858 he operated his studio at 48 Dauphin Street[xiv] and during this period (about 1855) he introduced the ambrotype (a new photographic technology during that era) to his Mobile clientele. Additionally, during this timeframe, in 1854, he produced a daguerreotype of a solar eclipse and displayed it as a curiosity at his Mobile Daguerreian Gallery.[xv] By 1859, he had expanded his operations to encompass three storefronts at 54, 56, and 58 Dauphin Street[xvi]. According to daguerreotype historians Rinhart and Rinhart[xvii] Barnes was known for his attention on the subject by using simple dark backgrounds in order to contrast some clients’ costumes; see their example below from an anonymous collection.
From Rinhart & Rinhart (1981), a sixth plate daguerreotype by Chauncey Barnes, ca. 1851. Anonymous collection.
By the end of the 1850s decade, Barnes’ career takes an interesting twist and he is sued by one of his employees. According to daguerreian historian J. S. Craig, Barnes employed a number of “artists”, which hand-painted and colored his ambrotypes and cartes-de-visite; these included I. S. Clark in 1853 and 1855-56, Willey in 1856, J. S. Clark in 1856, and J. W. Turner in 1859.[xviii] Here is where the twist in his circumstances occurs. The trial, Barnes v. Ingalls, 39 Ala. 193 (1863), commenced on May 15, 1860, in which Gardner Ingalls brought action against Barnes for failure to pay nearly $1,000 due from promissory notes for work conducted from August 16, 1859 until January 1, 1860.[xix] Apparently the outcome of this trial was not good in that Barnes was listed that year as operating a “sewing machine depot at 56 Dauphin”.[xx]
What is also of interest during this time of occupational shift for the native New Yorker turned Alabamian compatriot, is that during the 1860 Census that year in Mobile, he is listed as a slave owner. On Schedule 2, Slave Inhabitants in 7th Ward, City of Mobile[xxi], line #6 shows Barnes as owning two slaves, both female and ages of 19 and 6 years. The schedule also reveals that he provided a separate “slave house” for these two young women. This record, as did others of that era, distinguished between slave color: B was used for Black, while M was used for Mulatto. The document showed both slave girls as being Black.
1860 Slave Schedule to U.S. Census for Mobile, Alabama; shows Chauncey Barnes as owning two young female slaves. National Archives and Records Administration.
However, during the Civil War years, history is silent about Barnes’ photographic endeavors. Did he go off to contribute to the war effort, leaving his wife Lois and his slaves to look after his “sewing machine depot”? Interestingly, there was a number of “Chauncey Barnes” who served during the War Between the States, which included soldiers in New York units and in Mississippi units. Further research is needed in this area to determine if Barnes indeed served during this bloody contestation. A few years after the Civil War’s ending, in 1868, Barnes is once again listed as being a photographer with his studio located this time at 87 Dauphin Street. At some point during his early 50s, Barnes partnered with Harry E. Wallace, as evidenced by the backmark on the CDV[xxii] under investigation in this case study. Based on extant documentation, it appears this partnership was short-lived, as the glowing review for Wallace in the 1883 annual report for the Mobile and Ohio Railway[xxiii] makes no mention of Barnes. There could have been deteriorating health conditions for Barnes that caused his absence from the photography business, as he died in 1884, at an age of about 67.
Scottish Photographer who’s Father had ties to the Confederacy
Of the two proprietors of this photographic enterprise, “Wallace” at first presented himself as an enigma. However, evidence suggested this person was Harry E. Wallace,[xxiv] [xxv] who eventually became known as “Mobile’s most successful photographer.”[xxvi] Born around 1843 in Scotland, Harry was the oldest child of William R. Wallace of Glasgow, Scotland, and Mary A. (Job) Wallace, of Dublin, Ireland.[xxvii] Harry was born into an interesting family of financial means. Harry’s grandfather was Alexander Wallace, who was a lineal descendant of Sir William Wallace and his father, William R. Wallace, was a world traveler and lithographer. Harry’s maternial grandfather, was William Job, who was a “landed proprietor” and holder of numerous Irish governmental positions in Dublin.[xxviii]
When Harry was five years of age, he and his parents, along with an infant sibling, arrived in New York City on August 22, 1848 aboard the Queen of the West,[xxix] which had set sail from Liverpool, England several days earlier. The Wallace Family remained in New York City for about one year after their arrival to American before they moved to Washington City, D.C. in 1850, where William was engaged for his services as a lithographer and engraver. By 1853, the family relocated west to Cincinnati, Ohio, where William continued his lithography and engraving trade in a partnership and firm known as Middleton, Wallace & Co.[xxx] For reasons not explained, William left his business in 1857 “when he started a tour around the world,” which ended in Australia where he received a government posting given under the hand of Queen Victoria.[xxxi] At this point it is unclear if William was traveling alone overseas or if his family had accompanied him.
As tensions continued to fester between the Northerners and Southerners over states’ rights issues, William Wallace returned to America in 1860 and set up residence in Ludlow, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio. Here, William advocated the Confederacy’s position, while his oldest three sons, including Harry, aligned themselves with the North.[xxxii] Harry’s father became such an advocate for the Southern Confederacy, that he contracted himself as a lithographer and engraver to print their currency, for which he was briefly imprisoned and released for insufficient evidence. During the later years of the Civil War, William moved further south and settled in Mobile, Alabama, where he engaged in his trade producing maps of the southern railways during the Reconstruction Era. It would be here in Mobile that William would eventually die in 1870 from yellow fever.[xxxiii] Data is silent regarding Harry’s whereabouts during this timeframe, but research is currently being conducted to determine if the Harry Wallace that served in the 23rd Regiment Ohio Infantry during the Civil War is the same protagonist in this present study.[xxxiv] As noted above, Harry was in opposition to his father’s political stance and since he was living in Cincinnati region at the time, he may well have joined the Union forces as an act of rebellion between father and son.
In 1870 Harry returned to the scene in Mobile, Alabama around the time of William’s death, and established a studio he operated at 87 Dauphin Street. This is the same address that appears on the backmark of the CDV under investigation. This most likely is when the young Scottish immigrant[xxxv] partnered with the older Barnes. Possibly this partnership was designed as a means of conveyance of studio ownership between the two. Wallace would have been about 26 years of age, while Barnes’ age would have been about 53.
Advertisement for Harry E. Wallace, Photographer. ca. 1880. Mobile, Alabama. From the Mobile & Ohio Railway 1883 Annual Report.
Wallace’s shared studio with Barnes located at 87 Dauphin Street was in the heart of the port city of Mobile and just a short distance from its wharf district and opposite the public square known as Bienville Square (note the misspelling in the 1888 city map).
Mobile City Map, 1888. From the Cartographic Research Laboratory, University of Alabama.
At this location, Wallace developed his reputation as the city’s best photographer and within ten years of establishing his studio, he was exhibiting prints, using a professional permanence photographic technology known as carbon prints, in Chicago.[xxxvi] Carbon prints were to become the printing process of choice for exhibition prints among art photographers at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.[xxxvii] The following year, in 1881, his cabinet card images were declared the finest at a photographic convention held in New York City. Wallace was also commended for his abilities to produce portraits with oil paint, India ink, and watercolors, along with crayon portraiture. Not only was his studio producing fine portraits of Mobile’s citizenry, it was producing a variety of commercial images including landscape and urban views, along with architectural renderings. These found their way as artist etchings into the annual report for the Mobile and Ohio Railway.[xxxviii]
Cover from the 1883 annual report for the Mobile & Ohio Railways. Harry E. Wallace contributed numerous photographs used as etchings in this publication.
Wallaces' views showing Mobile's architecture and sub-tropical environment. From Mobile & Ohio Railways 1883 Annual Report.
The 1880 Census shows Harry and his wife, Emma, along with their children (Xavier-7, Gertrude-5, and Emma-2), residing in Mobile. Census data from the 1890 and 1900 are silent about the Wallace family. However, shortly after the turn of the century, records indicate that when Harry was 67, he had relocated to Aiken, South Carolina[xxxix] with his wife Emma and daughter Gertrude. He still listed his occupation as photographer and daughter Gertrude was his assistant photographer. This move to Aiken seems such a random occurrence and begs the question as to why this location? One theory that emerges from this mysterious past suggests there was a connection to the long-time established studio of J. A. Palmer, an Irish native by way of Rochester, New York and Savannah, Georgia. Palmer established his studio in Aiken around 1871 and provided commercial photographs to the local and regional communities in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, in the form of portraits, interior and exterior architectural views, landscapes, and news worthy events.[xl] Palmer employed additional operators in his business and to ensure continuation of his operation he sold the studio to his wife a few years before his death in 1896. The community of Aiken enjoyed the seasonal visits of northern tourists, which the locals called the “Winter Colony,”[xli] and possibly this was the draw for Wallace’s relocation.
Wallace was still photographing well into his 70s, in the Piedmont region of South Carolina. As with Barnes, there are no records that indicate what precipitated this move, especially since he had successfully established himself as Mobile’s preeminent photographer. According to Teal,[xlii] in 1914 Wallace had a studio at 110½ South Main Street in Anderson. Two years later, in 1916, he had relocated operations to 124½ North Main Street, where he stayed for a number of years. Before and during World War I (1913 and 1917, respectively), Wallace completed commercial photographic assignments for the local college publication known as The Sororian.[xliii] He photographed street scenes, along with commercial and residential architecture, in addition to his portraiture, just as he had in Mobile.
Commercial photography by Wallace in Anderson, South Carolina for "The Sororian." From Harvey Teal, 2001.
Information from the 1920 Census for Anderson, South Carolina, shows his daughter Gertrude, who was a single 41-year old, was working in the studio with her father as his photographic retoucher. According to Teal, Harry had moved his studio to 132 North Main Street by 1934, when he was 90! At this point, he had “a combination studio and gift shop”.[xliv] Very possibly, during his later years, Gertrude, his abiding daughter, may have taken reigns behind the camera, which may account for Teal’s comment that Wallace had photographed in Anderson for sixty years.
Harry E. Wallace (left) in Anderson, South Carolina during early 20th century. From Harvey Teal, 2001.
Thus, from a simple backmark imprinted on an 1870s carte-de-visite from Mobile, Alabama, personal identities and their concomitant stories have been reconstructed and brought forth from the dusty past of our collective national history. Regardless, both photographers in this study lived interesting lives during extraordinary times and contributed in their unique ways to the professionalism of their trade within the antebellum and postbellum South.
T. Ownby, PhD
[i] Chauncey (also spelled Chauncy) Barnes was the son of Amasa Barnes (b. December 19, 1786 in Burlington, Connecticut; d. June 1861 in Trenton, New York) and Mary F. Barnes. In Amasa’s will, dated April 1, 1850, he lists Chauncey as one of his sons and that he lived in Mobile, Alabama at that time, which other sources substantiate. Additionally, Chauncey had married Lois Clark, daughter of Asa Clark from Oneida County, New York (this is were Trenton is located). See family genealogy at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~higginsandwhitnah/barnes/d1.htm
[iv] Teal, H. (2001). Partners with the Sun: South Carolina photographers, 1840—1940. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, p. 7.
[v] Ibid., p. 88. Teal notes that the term operator, as used in 19th century photographic literature, refered to “a person who took photographs and performed other services for his employer.” He also notes this term also applied to the photographer that owned the studio or gallery, thus making the term operator synonymous with photographer, as was the case with George S. Cook during 1849 in Charleston, South Carolina.
[vi] Rinhart, F., & Rinhart, M. (1981). The American Daguerretype. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, p. 84.
[vii] Mace, O. H. (1990). Collector’s guide to early photographs. Radnor, PA: Wallace-Homestead Book Co., p. 16.
[ix] Charleston Courier, 6 August 1853, and 17 March 1854, as cited in Harvey S. Teal (2001). Partners with the Sun: South Carolina photographers, 1840—1940. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, p. 53.
[xiii] Barnes & Clark Marriage. Sep 27 1847. Chauncey Barnes, son of Amasa Barnes of Holland Patent married Lois Clark , daughter of Asa Clark of Floyd, Oneida Co, NY. Retrieved from Oneida County GenWeb at: http://oneida.nygenweb.net/ List of Misc. Marriages.
[xiv] Rinhart, F., & Rinhart, M. (1981). The American Daguerretype. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, p. 381.
[xv] Ibid., p. 381. Also, see Craig (2009).
[xvii] Rinhart, F., & Rinhart, M. (1981). The American Daguerretype. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. p. 262.
[xix] Thurston, T. (2009). Hearsay of the Sun: Photography, Identity, and the Law of Evidence. Retrieved from American Quarterly at http://chnm.gmu.edu/aq/photos/frames/infofr.htm
Note: this is an interesting case study in which an “assistant photographer” (i.e., portrait painter) sues his employer. What is more, the jury and judge ruled that an “ambrotypist” or “daguerrotypist” (i.e., photographer) was not an “artist” but rather an “artisan” because the technology employed in image making was mechanical.
[xx] Rinhart, F., & Rinhart, M. (1981). The American Daguerretype. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. p. 381.
[xxi] Tardy, E. (1860). Schedule 2—Slave Inhabitants in 7th Ward City of Mobile, in the County of Mobile, State of Alabama, Page No. 8. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration.
[xxii] [Photographs of Terry D. Ownby]. (1954 – ). 19th Century Photographs and Papers Collection of Terry D. Ownby. Kansas City, MO.
[xxiii] Mobile & Ohio Railway. (1883). Annual report of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad Company. Mobile, AL: Shields & Co. Digitized by Google eBook from original at Princeton University.
[xxv] Harry E. Wallace was born in Scotland (ca. 1844). Unfortunately, history does not reveal his parents names, however, 1920 Census data reveals his father was from Scotland and his mother from Ireland. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1848, when he was a four-year old boy. In his mid-30s, Wallace became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1880, at the peak of his popularity as a professional photographer in Mobile, Alabama. About this same time, in 1879, his daughter Gertrude Wallace was born in Alabama.
[xxvi] See Mobile & Ohio Railway (1883).
[xxvii] Perrin, W. H., Battle, J. H., & Kniffin, G. C. (1887). Kentucky: A history of the state, 7th ed. Chicago: F. A. Battey, p. 903.
[xxix] Passenger manifest. (1848). Queen of the West. M237, Roll 74, Line 31, List #936, p. 9. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration.
[xxxv] Osborn, I. (1920). Fourteenth Census of the United States: 1920—Population, Anderson, South Carolina, Sheet No. 11B. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration.
[xxxvii] Mace. O. H. (1990). Collector’s guide to early photographs. Radnor, PA: Wallace-Homestead Book Company.
[xxxix] Morris, G. (1910). Thirteenth census of the United States: 1910-population. Department of Commerce and Labor Bureau of the Census. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration.
[xl] Teal, H. (2001). Partners with the Sun: South Carolina photographers, 1840—1940. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, p. 125.
[xliii] Anderson City Directory, volumes for 1914 through 1940. Anderson College annual, the Sororian, 1914 and 1917. As cited in H. Teal, (2001), Partners with the Sun: South Carolina photographers, 1840—1940. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
[xliv] Teal, H. (2001). Partners with the Sun: South Carolina photographers, 1840—1940. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, p. 218.