A Work in Progress
One of the nice things about the ClassyArts photographers database is that you can often follow the movements of photographers from one location to the next. Some of these guys moved so often, I suspect they specialized in finding good potential studio sites, setting up business there, then selling the operating studio at a profit. Of course, other photographers were as geographically stable as farmers, tied to one location for decades.
I always have several projects going at once, and right now one of those projects is an ebook publication: Nineteenth Century Cleveland Ohio Photographers, which I expect to finish sometime in 2010, though it could go into 2011 — there have been far more photographers active there than I expected when I started the project. To date, I have a list of almost 700 photographers who worked in Cleveland prior to 1900! I have written biographical sketches for about 40 of those so far. I’ve been working on this project a little over three months, though I only got to the point of actually writing sketches a month ago — before that it was all background research.
How This eBook is Different
Two features will distinguish this project from similar books on photographers that have been produced by others. For photographers who had their own studios my emphasis is on helping to date their images, so I pay particular attention to finding the dates of operation at each different studio address. Secondly, the dating goal is further supported by an initial summary table, and illustrations of as many different examples of imprints as I can find for each photographer.
Below is an example of an entry for one photographer, M E Beckwith. His career spanned from late in the daguerrian era to his death in 1887 — and he seems to have had only one studio location, though the address was changed over the years. Obviously, there are more example photographs for such a long-standing operator than the average photographer, but I’m sure there are other imprint types yet to be found.
You Can Help
If you have any 19th century photographs from Cleveland, and would like to contribute copies for publication in this ebook, please contact me.
Also, use the comment form below to let me know what you think of this layout — beginning with a summary table, color coded to show birth and death, life events and photographic data; followed by a short biographical sketch with source citations, and finally small reproductions showing the different imprints found. Those small images will probably be linked to larger images on the ClassyArts site in the final version.
Beckwith, Marvin Edward
M E Beckwith, M E Beckwith & Son, Marvin E Beckwith
|1823Nov4||Clarence, New York||born to Alva and Hannah (Brush) Beckwith|
|1845Jan23||Cleveland, OH||married Margaret Sophia McLeod|
|1846-50||Cleveland, OH||occupation tailor|
|1855||Cleveland, OH||learned daguerrotype process from Samuel Crobaugh|
|1859-ca1870||9 Pearl, Cleveland, OH||M E Beckwith photo studio|
|ca1868-1870||119 Detroit, Cleveland, OH||M E Beckwith photo studio (from CDV imprint)|
|1871-ca1876||corner Pearl and Detroit, Cleveland, OH||M E Beckwith and Son photo studio|
|1877-80||175 Pearl (Pearl & Detroit), Cleveland, OH||M E Beckwith and Son photo studio|
|1881-87||261 Pearl, Cleveland, OH||M E Beckwith and Son photo studio, same studio — street renumbered|
Marvin Edward Beckwith was born in Clarence, Erie county, New York on November 4, 1823. His parents were Alva Beckwith (1797-1835) and Hannah (or Maud) Brush (1800-) (1, 2). The family moved to Willoughby Ohio in the late 1820s, then Monroe Michigan in the early 1830s. Marvin is said to have moved to Cleveland in 1839 (3). M E Beckwith married Margaret Sophia McLeod at Cleveland, Jan 23, 1845 (1). Mrs Beckwith may have been related to ambrotypist Daniel F McLeod and/or photographer Norman E A McLeod — all three were born within a ten-year span in Canada, and lived in Cleveland before 1860.
Marvin Beckwith is first noted in city directories in 1846, where his occupation is listed as tailor, and residence is 68 Ontario Street North. In the 1850 census his occupation is again listed as tailor, and he and Margaret have two children, Harriet age 2 and Alva age 1. The genealogies list Willoughby Ohio as Alva’s birthplace, though the family was living in Cleveland before and after his birth.
Marvin Beckwith learned photography from Samuel Crobaugh, probably about 1855 (3). By the 1859 city directory he is listed with his own gallery at 9 Pearl street, and is residing at 113 Hanover. The 1860 census if the first of several records that get his first name wrong, listing him as Martin E Beckwith, Daguerrian Artist. We have (see illustrations) an example of his work during the Civil War, a CDV with a tax stamp marked 1865, and the imprint shows he was still at 9 Pearl at that time. Another of our illustrations shows a late-1860s image with what Darrah described as a ‘Bilateral Ovoid’ imprint style, which shows M E Beckwith, 119 Detroit Street. As mentioned below, the 1870s studio had entrances on either Pearl or Detroit Streets. If this is (as I suspect) the same studio at the corner of Pearl and Detroit, then 119 Detroit may be the same location as 9 Pearl. An alternative explanation is that Beckwith moved from 9 Pearl to 119 Detroit, then to the corner of Pearl and Detroit.
The 1870 census again gets the name wrong, listing him as Myron E Beckwith, and shows his real estate valued at $7500, and personal assets at $800. The real estate may have included both his home and the studio location. Some directories about this time may list him as Marion E Beckwith, since others have copied that name — but I have not seen where that error originated. About 1870 or 1871, the business address begins being listed as ‘corner Pearl and Detroit’ — which may be the same location as 9 Pearl, but if so it was renumbered twice. From about 1877 the address is usually listed as 261 Pearl, but a late 1870 CDV (see illustrations) shows that this was the same location, listing not only ‘corner Pearl and Detroit streets’ but entrances at 175 Pearl or 186 Detroit. The Beckwiths also published local stereoviews in the 1870s, as evidenced by the illustrated example. The 1881 city directory listing shows the address as 261 Pearl (old address 175) showing that the street was renumbered about that time. Marvin is last listed in the 1887 city directory, living at 274 Hanover, which had been his address since 1884. Before that it was 115 Hanover, so that too may be due to street renumbering. In the 1888 city directory Sophia Beckwith, widow M E is listed at 274 Hanover. Marvin Edward Beckwith died December 13, 1887 (1). His son Alva took over the studio, listing it in the 1888 directory as Alva D Beckwith successor to M E Beckwith & Son; but from 1889 to 1891 he resumed using the title M E Beckwith & Son for the business, until he opened his own studio at another address about 1892.
NOTE: Census and Directory listings for Cleveland are not individually listed, they are referenced by year within the text. Directories are cited by year published, usually the year preceding that shown in the directory title.
- Marvin Beckwith and his wife Abigail Clark, Their Colonial Ancestors and Their Descendants; by A C Beckwith, Elkhorn WI 1899
- The Beckwiths, by Paul Edmond Beckwith. Albany, 1891. (384p.):120
- Craig’s Daguerreian Registry at http://craigcamera.com/dag/
|Civil War Era Portrait
M E Beckwith, No 9 Pearl Street (ca 1859-70)
|Gaunt Faced Gentleman
M E Beckwith, No 119 Detroit Street (ca 1868-70)
|Rocky River Stereoview
M E Beckwith & Son, Corner Pearl & Detroit Streets (ca 1871-76)
|Head with Charicature Body
Beckwith & Son, Corner Pearl & Detroit Streets (ca 1871-76)
|Young and Pretty Woman
M E Beckwith & Son, S W Corner Pearl & Detroit Streets, Phone: 1664 (1871-87)
M E Beckwith & Son