A Reevaluation – But Mysteries Remain


Book Spine Poem by E. Lee Eltzroth

My post today is an information update on two previous posts –  first the “mystery” post of June 24th (Are these gents Savannah Irish? —) and second, my recent post of July 1st on Charles J. Warner (Love, Music, Photography & a Scandal in a Little Georgia Town).

The comments I received on these were varied and interesting. Regarding the “Savannah group” mystery, I agree with my colleague Pat Gerard, this group photograph dates earlier than I estimated. I should have stayed with the initial “feeling” I had about that as I wrote the post, but I decided to date it later, just “to be safe” – a bad choice on my part.

And I think she is correct about the caps they wear being similar to those worn post-war, and the “bib” uniforms as well, so I will  say this image is closer to the 1880 – 1883 time-period.  She was also kind enough to provide some interesting links to photographs of men in similar uniforms.

And her guess that this could be a firemen’s ball team dressed for the parade, makes sense. It is true this was a period when “base ball” was becoming popular and many fire departments formed teams.

Something I failed to note in my original post is the size of this photograph. This particular image (see previous post for image details) is actually only 5” x 5” – quite, quite small. It is shown below in full frame with the mat. The photo is missing the top right corner, and someone apparently pinned it to their wall because there are small holes obvious in each corner.  Since the photograph was unidentified (only as a “Savannah group”), damaged, and so very small, I paid very little for it. That being said, I am still quite curious about exactly who and what this group is.

Savannah unid group

Unidentified Savannah group by an unidentified photographer; from Author’s collection

Regarding this photograph, my friend Ed Shoemaker  (his 1990 PhD dissertation was Strangers and Citizens: The Irish Immigrant Community of Savannah, 1837-1861 http://tinyurl.com/kd449ty ) said  in an email comment to me,  “– a lot of volunteer fire companies organized along ethnic (and other) lines before Savannah went professional, and this sure looks like one of them.  I don’t know the significance of the number 4 on the shirts. For the time period I know more about, which is antebellum and Civil War, there was a Hibernian Society but not a Hibernian Association, which might affect the interpretation of the “SHA” emblem.”

So – the mystery of what the initials are on the shirt remains. I continue to hope someone out there can identify these fellows, and their uniform.

My question about the cryptic handwriting of the census taker of the 1900 census in Rome, Georgia Warner garnered several comments. Regarding the occupation of (photographer) Charles J. Warner,  some said they do not believe this could indicate “daguerreotypy” or “—ing”, but others think it’s very possible.


Warner’s occupation, after “France” on 1900 census (this scan is at a higher resolution than that in my original post)

You may have read my own comment that I had come across “an 1897 handwritten item in which the fellow used the term “daguerreans” [sic] two times.  It is a surprise to see it used so late in the century, but remember that was how many adults first came into contact with photographers – as Daguerreians”  but I agree this [on the census] is some other word(s).”

But yes, it does look something like  “Dry–” or “Day–” but what that occupation that was is anyone’s guess. It appears to be only one word, and what it could be – oh, there is the mystery!

Thank you all for taking the time to read these posts and to comment on them. If you do not want to comment publicly, contact  me at E.Lee_E@alumni.emory.edu or on Twitter @galpix

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without  written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. prosenbloom2012 · · Reply

    Mysteries are hard to get out of your head! Thanks for the updated info on the mysteries of Charles Warner and the Savannah group. As for the census “occupation” of Warner, I’m really going out on a limb here, but the first impression I had of the script was “Voyaging.” Now that’s a very unusual description for someone’s occupation but what if he were unemployed and then “Voyaging” might imply he was acively in search of work?

  2. Good enough for me, why not? That makes more sense than some other occupations we’ve come up with!

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