Friday Faces & Places – E. J. Atwood

This will be an ongoing series on occasional Fridays, highlighting some of Georgia’s photographers and their associates for whom I have, or have knowledge of, a portrait of them and/or images of their studio(s).  I will include “real” images whenever possible.

My Face & Place for today is E. [Eldis] Jay Attwood.

E. J. Atwood was born Sept. 9, 1867 in Michigan.  I believe my carte-de-visite below to be a photographic copy of his pen and ink, or possibly woodblock, self-portrait used by Atwood as his Madison GA business card.


Atwell is noted in Harvey S. Teal’s Partners with the Sun as working in South Carolina in the 1890s, which is possible, but according to Treadwell and Darrah’s Stereographers of the World v.2 (National Stereoscopic Assoc., 1994), Atwood put his Madison GA photographers’ mark on stereo views he took in Iowa (where he once lived) as late as 1889. He most certainly worked in Madison, Georgia from the mid-1880’s to 1897.

While he was working in Madison he also did some work in Monticello, and cabinet cards exist with that city named in his front and/or back photographers’ mark.  He also visited Greensboro, just to the east of Madison, where he photographed an ice storm in stereo.

In 1898, Atwood moved to Macon where he worked as a photographer until his death. From his arrival there to at least 1907, he worked with photographer T. B. Blackshear.  As of 1909, he had his own business, and his studio was located at 212 1/2 Cotton Ave.  In the early 1920’s, both his daughter Vera (born in Georgia, Nov. 2, 1897; became Mrs. H.H. Middlebrooks) and his brother Avrill (born in Michigan, June 29, 1873) were working in Atwood’s photo studio as retouchers.

He was a member of the Southeastern Photographers Association and he attended their first meeting in Atlanta in 1921. He was also a member of the Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit society.  Some rather fun facts about Atwood are that he advertised “the new Catchum Quick Process,” and “Skidoo pictures” in 1914. In addition to his photography, he also advertised the sale of ducks and duck eggs.

Atwood died at a daughter’s home in Nashville, Tennessee on Sept. 27, 1940, and he was interred in Macon at Riverside Cemetery two days later, near his wife’s parents. Later his wife, and his brother Avrill were also buried there. The online record for Riverside Cemetery includes his obituaries.

I provide brief biographical information to Find a Grave on these individuals whenever possible, and I did this for E. J. Atwood.

One Final Note:

I do not believe there is any connection of photographer E. J. Atwood to “J. Atwood & Son.” That pair had worked in Philadelphia in the late 1840s to the mid-1850s, and they came to Savannah for a year, from February 1858 to February 1859, to make portraits. Their services included magnifying and copying daguerreotypes and making them into oil paintings.  This J. Atwood, artist, was in Georgia earlier and is documented in Milledgeville in late 1842 painting portraits. The New York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists lists Jesse Atwood as an itinerant portrait painter born in New Hampshire ca. 1802, with a son George born ca. 1828 in Pennsylvania. Artist  J. Atwood was in Mexico in May 1847, and he arrived in New Orleans in July 1847 with two portrait paintings of Gen. Taylor he had done in Mexico.  In January 1859 a Savannah newspaper noted that Atwood and Son would soon be leaving Savannah and were heading to Havana, Cuba to paint portraits.


  1. Terry Howell · · Reply

    Eldis J Atwood was my maternal Great Grandfather. Your article is very accurate. The print you have here is print from an etching of himself he did on wood. He also did some sculpture work. He amd his Wife Martha were devout Christian Scientists. I have many many hand written recipes for everything from shoe soul preserver to a cure for tuberculosis. I also have the recipe for his prized Atwood s Barbacue sauce. I helped his daughter Vera make the last natch ever in 1987. He was a brilliant man and made much of his equipment. I also have many glass negatives and hundreds of his photos.

    1. Thank you so much for this information. I see an error in that post I need to correct and will. I would love to know more about the I ages you have of his. I will contact you.

    2. Ken Kocher · · Reply

      I posted this on Instagram about E.J. Atwood: No mentions in the Madison newspapers but several in the Jasper County News. Looks like he spent the winter of 1891 in Monticello. Married Lula Hickman from Jasper County in 1892 and the returned to Winnsboro, SC to live. In 1893, Mrs. E.J. Atwood from Union, SC visited her parents. 1895 references have them visiting from Madison. In 1899, “Mrs. E.J. Atwood and children will leave in a few days for Macon where they will join Mr. Atwood, who has a position in Mr. Blackshear’s Art Gallery.” So it looks like they lived in Madison for about five years at the turn of the 19th century.

      You can find these newspaper articles by searching E J Atwood here:

      1. Thanks, I had all this data, and I think he came to Madison a bit earlier, possibly as early as 1885. I’ll do some more research on him to be more certain. He moved to Macon by 1898, and his younger brother, Avrill L., worked a bit with him there as a retoucher.

      2. Actually there were also several pieces there in the Madisonian re Atwood that I had not seen, so thank you! A lot of new data there in those 2 papers re his types of photography, others towns visited, etc.

    3. Terry,
      I work for the City of Madison, GA. Would love to get digital copies of photos of Madison and Madisonians. Any chance of that?

  2. Ken Kocher · · Reply

    Follow up: using E. Jay Atwood as the search, I found an announcement that he was to open his shop in the old Richter gallery on November 25, 1893. Richter’s old gallery would be the one you have a photo of on the M.L. Richter page.

    1. Thanks, for this. I have the dates and other data on him in Madison but not the location of the studio. He liked those M cities — Macon, Madison, Monticello!

  3. Eldis I. Rice · · Reply

    My name is Eldis I. Rice Grandson of Ethel A. Atwood Rice and I am searching the internet for information about my Great Grandfather Eldis J. Atwater and found you site.

    1. Let me know if you need more info or cite for him!

    2. My name is Terry Howell great grandson of EJ and grandson of Vera Atwood Ethel’s s sister.
      I have lots of EJs pictures and writings and considerable knowledge of the family.
      If you’d like contact me a


      1. I’ll be in touch, thank you!

  4. Melissa McMillan · · Reply

    My name is Melissa Rice McMillan. EJ Atwood was my paternal great grandfather. His daughter, Ethel Atwood Rice was my father’s mother. I never knew EJ and my grandmother died when I was young but I knew my great aunt Vera very well. I have many original photographs taken of my father by EJ Atwood.

    1. Good to hear from you! I have heard from other relatives but you may be the only direct descendant (I’ll have to check) – I am so glad to hear you have those wonderful family photographs. I would love to see some. I will be in touch via another email address. Thanks for reading.

      1. Melissa McMillan · ·

        Thanks for your reply. Happy to send you photos of originals. You can see the “Atwood Electric Studio “ mark on many of them. There is one of my grandmother as a child- whimsical- would have been taken around 1900.
        He was also a woodworker and in the family we have a child’s rocker he built. On the bottom it says made for baby Ethel Mae by Papa, EJ Atwood
        Monticello, Ga 1897.

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