On this day, Memorial Day, I have chosen some images from my collection depicting soldiers in the United States military. Two are related to the Spanish American War, and the other, the Mystery Photo, was apparently taken just after WWI.
The Monday Mystery photograph for today is a photo postcard postmarked “Atlanta May 1919” and captioned “3002 – Infantry Drill – Port Arms.” These are African American soldiers and I cannot help thinking that in only a few short months, during the summer and fall of 1919, our country would be in the midst of several race riots in cities across the country. Three of the most violent ones occurred in Washington D.C., Chicago IL, and Elaine, Arkansas. This was the height of the Jim Crow era.
The postcard is addressed to Gertrude Jackson in Macon, from her brother, who inscribed it to “my dearest little sister”. The brother may have been named Clarence, (although it looks to be signed “ChailXX” and I thought perhaps “Charles” if that “i” is really an R, but the last letters are rubbed off). I did find a Gertrude Jackson in Macon with a brother Clarence in 1910 —- BUT the writer is not the mystery.
Where were these photographed soldiers stationed? Was it indeed Atlanta, or nearby? Was the photo even taken in Georgia?
I have done only cursory research on this item. Again, this is not the era I mean to concentrate on right now, but it would be wonderful to know exactly where these African American soldiers actually were. Are there any takers out there — to solve this mystery?
The two images below are details of stereograph views of soldiers at Camp Chickamauga Georgia made by the Keystone View Company, copyrighted 1898 by B. L. Singley (Benneville Lloyd Singley, 1864-1938).
The first (#9233), called “Bouncing a New Recruit” is one of my favorite images, a stereo with very nice tones.
The second (#9231) is not quite as nice an image, but it gives more detail on the who, what, when, and where with the title of “Dinner in Camp – Battery E., 1st Regiment”.The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park had only recently been created when the area was chosen to play a useful part in the Spanish American War. Chickamauga was near the Chattanooga rail line so it was a good place to gather our troops and prepare them for service in Cuba, etc.
Singley, a photographer, began the Keystone View Company to sell his Pennsylvania views in stereo. Later his company began to sell views from all over the country. As of about 1898, Singley was no longer the sole photographer and he hired others to work for him. Keystone also began making and selling stereoscopes in 1898, and in 1905 the company was incorporated, becoming the largest business of its kind in the world, with branches in the United States, Canada, and England. The company was in business quite awhile, from 1892 through 1963.
There is more information on Keystone here: http://tinyurl.com/bogz4qb
These two views above are fairly early ones for the company, which had been in business six years – they were then located only in Meadville PA and St. Louis MO. These could very well be photographs Singley himself made, and it’s true that they are copyrighted in his name only, but we just don’t really know – yet – exactly who may have taken these photographs at Chickamauga.
Another Georgia military view is in the Keystone-Mast Collection http://tinyurl.com/otqezop at UC at Riverside (California) – it’s called “Reviewing Infantry at Savannah Ga., 1899” http://tinyurl.com/nrgqely
I hope your day was a good one and that you enjoyed yourself, but I hope you also had a little time to reflect on the true meaning of our Memorial Day.