Only four photographs in this group are labeled. Pictured above are Saylie and Margaret Beard. The Smiling Couple were photographed at the Ferguson studio in Elkins, West Virginia.
Lewis B. Dorcas was born in 1867 in Catskills, New York. In 1882, he graduated from Harvard University. In 1891, he married Mary Hedrick. Together, they had five sons: Lewis, Frederick, Herbert, Hubert, and Carl. He had many careers during his lifetime. He was an artist, educator, inventor, and barber. He initially worked as a telegraph operator for the Associated Press. He established the Dorcas School where he taught his five sons. During WWI, he was recruited by the government to conduct telegraph training to prepare recruits to qualify for the signal platoon of the army. Mary, his wife, died October 8, 1921. On February 21, 1925, he married Mary Jane Beard, my widowed great-grandmother.
He invented a “combination stove” which could use oil, coal, or wood interchangeably. He received a US patent for his invention October 15th 1907. He also received a patent in Canada. According to his obituary: “he was widely known as an expert draftsman, pen, and brush artist, and was mentioned in the history of Randolph county as being one of the best penmen in the state”. In addition, he worked as a barber for almost forty years. He was the first to open a barber shop in Dryfork, West Virginia.
Lewis was recognized as a leader in Elkin’s African-American community. The newspaper obituary (clipping without identification of newspaper) describes him as “Leader of Negroes” and “a leader among members of his race for many years and was one of the most widely respected colored residents in the state.” In addition, he was the first African-American to serve as a juror in Randolph County.
He died July 17, 1940 at the home of his son Carl in Charleston, West Virginia.
This set of photos are printed on cardstock. Although these portraits are professionally done, very few bare the name of the photographer. The first photograph is of Charles and is dated 1923. The second picture is of Walter Campbell. The third is of Ben Dorcas. There is a Benny Dorcas, age 7, in the 1900 US Census for Randolph County, West Virginia. The next photo is of Bill Davis. John Lee is on the following photo followed by a photograph of Cyrus Meeks who is listed in the 1920 US Census for Randolph County, West Virginia at age 21. Howard Randolph is pictured in the next photograph. Brothers, Nelson (1901-1969) and Marvel (1897-1958) Tibbs are depicted in following two photos. Earnest Green (1878-1914) is pictured with Ben Turner in the next photograph. The young men in the WWI uniforms are identified as Charles Slaughter, Milton Williams, and Mr. Curtis and the picture is from the Ferguson Studio in Elkins, West Virginia. It is unknown if the names are assigned from left to right. The next two pictures are of clergymen: Reverend Benjamin Franklin Newsome (1861-1940) and Reverend D.S. Slaughter. Rev. Dennis S. Slaughter is listed in the 1921 Elkins, West Virginia City Directory as the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. His portrait was done at the Brown Studio in Richmond, Virginia. Reverend Newsome is listed in the Morgantown, West Virginia City Directory for several years; however, no church is listed. The next four photos are not labeled.
This photo is unusual as it is on a ticket for admission to see Little Forest Sims, The Blind Musical Wonder. The price of admission is fifty cents. The following article, Four Year Old Blind Musician, was in the Minnesota paper, The Appeal, Saturday, June 3, 1922: “Little Forest Sims, the son of Rev. and Mrs. J. Sims of Cleveland, Ohio, was born blind four years ago, and is a fair rival of “Blind Tom” as a pianist. According to Rev. Sims, he was offered $10,000 a year, with family expenses to enter him on the big time vaudeville circuit.” In addition, under the Afro-American News Notes section of the Sandusky Star Journal, Thursday, February 3, 1921:” . . . the boy prodigy, Forest Sims, a blind boy. . .was born October 16, 1917, in Birmingham, Alabama. To see him and to study him one is convinced he is endowed with unusual power. He plays and imitates birds and most of nature’s sounds. This unusual child will appear in concert at Second Baptist Church, Monday evening, February 7.” Another report in the New York paper, New York Age, July 8, 1933, edition reports another performance at Brook Chapel in Hillburn, New York. While the young performer is not a resident of West Virginia, the ticket is a small indication of the types of entertainment available to the community. The images below are the front and back of ticket.
The photos are of men and juvenile boys are pictured on this set of postcards. The subject of the first postcard is Oril Beard (1904 – 1978). He was born in Randolph County. Homer Carter is pictured in the next postcard. The next two photos are of Paul Hall. There is a military record for a Homer Carter listing Huttonsville, West Virginia as his residence. He was born in 1896 making him a contemporary of my grandmother who was born in Huttonsville. The postcard is addressed to my grandmother. The heart-shaped photo has a one cent stamp attached and was postmarked in 1907. It is addressed to my recently widowed young great-grandmother. Perhaps it is a valentine. The next four photographs are not labeled in any way.
These postcards display individuals posing in groups. Several groups can be identified as families. The first picture is of Dan and Ellen Hall with their children. The second photo is of Maggie Beard (1905-1985) and her grandmother, Margaret Green (1849-1946). Margaret was born Margaret Hall, a slave, in Missouri. The Beard children with cousin, Mattie Green are pictured in the next photo: Lawson (1904-1976); Saylie (1902-1976); Margaret (1905-1985); Oril (1904-1978); and Mattie (1900-1957). The remainder of the postcards have no notations. The pictures of the Hall family and the Women on Brick Wall were photographed at the Ferguson’s Studio in Elkins, West Virginia
Here we have another set of postcards with children as the subjects. None of the postcards have postmarks or stamps. However, the picture of Harvey McDonald is dated 11/24/1931 and was taken at Ferguson’s Studio in Elkins, West Virginia. Other than their names, the photos of Lushia Dorcas and Katherine Wright contain no other information. The remaining photos are of unknown children.
The next set of photographs are printed on postcards. I have divided them into subject-matter groups for display purposes. The first group are images of women photographed alone. None of the postcards have postage stamps or postmarks, subsequently, they cannot be dated easily. However, a few are labeled with the name of the woman pictured.
Beulah Brown was born about 1845 in West Virginia. She married Lonn Smith in 1918 in Randolph County, West Virginia. There are three photos of a woman named Grace. Jesse Baxter, born Jesse Brown in 1886, married Dennis Baxter in 1909. She died in 1968. The remaining two labeled photos are of Louise Copeland and Rhoda Twilley. The latter was born about 1899 in West Virginia and married Lawrence Chapman in 1925.
Two of the pictures are stamped with the name of the photography shop that produced the picture. The Stately Women photo was produced at the Fischer Studio in Marietta, Ohio and the Women by Window was made by C.E. Gerkins in Cumberland, Maryland.
These photos appear to be the oldest of the collection, They may have been created before the 20th Century. Richard Green, photographed on a horse, was born in 1833 and died in Randolph County, West Virginia in 1896. The only other picture identifying the subject is the photo of James Edward Johnson,
Welcome to my blog. I discovered a wealth of historical photos in my grandmother’s old suitcase. She was born and lived in West Virginia during the first half of the 20th century. The photos include tintypes, “Real Photo” postcards, portrait photographs, and snapshots; therefore, I believe a number of the photographs are over 100 years old. Some of these pictures are labeled with the names and/or dates. I will include this information on the post. There are also pictures of churches, schools, and events. Of those that are labeled, the majority include only a first name. The majority have no notations; however, they are a beautiful representation of a past place and time.
I cannot verify without doubt that all photographs are from West Virginia. I will verify by Census any complete names. It is my hope that some of the subjects in the photos will be recognized. Also, it would be wonderful to discover what roles these individuals played in the lives of my family. My grandmother and her family lived in Randolph County, West Virginia. I believe most of the photos originated there or in adjacent counties.