J. A. Pugh, Macon Photographer, part 2: The Self-Made Man, 1865 -1872

J.A. Pugh frontis Leaves face crop

J. A. Pugh, ca. 1867, cropped portion of portrait used as frontis of his publication, Leaves of a Wanderer…., published 1868

In June 1865, the war between the states was over, and J. A. Pugh went back to work as a photographer in Macon, where he had lived since at least 1854 (see part 1 of my post on J. A. Pugh). June was the month Pugh apparently joined into a partnership with another longtime photographer, J. M. Lunquest, as Pugh & Lunquest. The first mention of them as partners is a June 24, 1865 (Macon Telegraph, p. 2) announcement that one could apply to their gallery to become passengers to Savannah on “Monday next.” The date of that notice was the day after the last surrender of the Confederate Army that finalized the war’s end.

John M. Lunquest (1812-1896) was working as a photographer in Georgia as of 1847. He was in Milledgeville as a partner to B. J. Lester, from October 1847, through January 1848. They advertised their daguerreotypes as “photographs, bordering on Miniature Paintings.”  Prior to his arrival in Milledgeville in October, Lunquest worked in Charleston, South Carolina, in March 1847, and he returned there for much of 1848.

Lunquest & Lester, MilledgevileFedUnion1847

Lunquest & Lester, Milledgeville, Georgia advertisement, Federal Union, November 2, 1847, page 1, col. 3 (also ran Oct. 19 and 26)

By early 1849, J. M. Lunquest was working in Griffin, Georgia, and was buying some supplies from George S. Cook, then in Georgia, who sold items to daguerreotypists in Georgia and Florida. Lunquest was listed under the city of Griffin in the 1854 Southern Business Directory as making daguerreotypes, but he was also listed a watch-maker and jeweller and dentist . He stayed in Griffin, where his wife was a milliner, through about March 1863, when they moved to Macon.  Once in Macon, Lunquest advertised, by that May, his “New Dental Office” on Cherry Street, where he also made ambrotypes, “when unengaged.” By the end of May and into June, he advertised Ambrotypes, as well as cases for sale.

Lunquest may have worked as a photographer in Macon even earlier. In the summer and fall of 1850, photographer C. W. Parker advertised that he was connected “with one of the finest Artists in the South,” meaning J. M. Lunquest, who would “very probably be with him here [to take pictures] during the Commencement of the [Wesleyan] Female College.” There is no indication in the newspapers that Luquest actually came to Parker’s in Macon, but he may have.

Pugh & Lunquest advertised in the Macon Daily Telegraph from August 1 – November 1, 1865, that they were “prepared to execute pictures of every kind in the best style of the art” in their “photograph, ambrotype, and daguerrean gallery,” which was located at Pugh’s Triangular Block gallery. In September that year they advertised their “Cart De Visites” in the Macon Daily Telegraph from September 26-29, which they wrote were:

the finest ever produced in Macon, and all mounted on thin cards to suit any size Photograph Album…..Every style of picture known to the art taken at this gallery, and the finest material always on hand.

The last time Pugh & Lunquest were mentioned in the Daily Telegraph as a partnership was in early December 1865, when milliner Miss M. E. Slappey of the Ladies Depository, gave the location of her rooms as “up stairs in Triangular block: Entrance on Cotton Avenue, next door to Messrs. Pugh and Lunquest’s gallery.”

In the Macon Daily Telegraph of December 19 (page 2, column 7) and through December 24, 1865, M. J. (Magnus John) Lunquest (1841-1918), John M. Lunquest’s son, ran an advertisement. He had been working in New York City and Brooklyn photo galleries the previous three months and he was back in Macon to advertise his “New Photographic Gallery on Cotton Ave., next to E. P. Johnston & Co’s Jewelry Store.” John M. Lunquest was noted in the ad as assisting his son in this endeavor.

As of January 2, 1866, J. A. Pugh was running advertisements for himself only, with no partner. In the Daily Telegraph of January 4th (pg. 3, col. 1), he notified the public that after the days of rain and cloudy weather they should flock

to Pugh’s old reliable gallery Triangular Block. His cart de Visite’s and general picture cannot be excelled.

Ye for whom you fond emotions cherish

Secure the shadow e’re the substance perish,

And if you would have it done to nature true,

Be sure you call on J. A. Pugh.

The following month Pugh advertised (Macon Daily Telegraph, February 18, 1866, page 5) his “Gems upon porcelain” which could be obtained “for a trifle,” or one could order his “Ivorytypes, life-size Photographs, or a dozen or two of his Cartes de Visites” — all of which were produced “in a manner which we do not think can be excelled.” Pugh was finally spelling the word Carte as the French word it is.

Pugh's Gallery cdv McGriff, Tom

J. A. Pugh, Macon, GA; hand-tinted carte-de-visite of Tom McGriff (Jr.), ca. 1866; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

His main competitor at this time was A. J. Riddle (1829-1897), who had advertised his photographs on porcelain since early January. Nevertheless, in May 1866, Pugh continued to set himself apart with his advertising, claiming (via a self-penned editor’s note, Macon Daily Telegraph, May 1-13, 1866) to Macon citizens he was their “enterprising, artistic neighbor” who had

the most superb Photographic Gallery that our city has ever been able to boast of. He has introduced a new feature in the arrangement of a glass room, which we learn is now adopted by all the first-class galleries in the world. With it good pictures can be taken in any weather. If you wish to see a nice place, call at Pugh’s Gallery.

At the end of the month (Macon Daily Telegraph, May 29-30, 1866, pg.3), he was calling his gallery Pugh’s Excelsior Gallery, and he claimed to take “by far the handsomest pictures in the city.” In another of his poems he claimed:

All sales that photographic art

Has yet, in happiest mood, designed,

For life-size picture or for carte,

Have been by Pugh combined.

To aid the large shaping sun,

The colorist’s rarest skill is brought,

And thus perfection’s goal is won,

And portraitures immortal wrought.

Pugh's Gallery cdv McGriff, Rebecca

J. A. Pugh, Macon, GA; hand-tinted carte-de-visite of Rebecca McGriff, ca. 1866; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

Throughout much of 1866, J. A. Pugh advertised his Ivorytypes and Carte de Visites, and the advertisements often contained poetry. By June he called his gallery the Premium Gallery on the Avenue. He often noted his skill in taking children’s likenesses, and he requested that families make plans with him for a particular date and time. The McGriff family of Hawkinsville, in Pulaski County, Georgia, apparently did exactly that. In about 1866, the McGriff children, and their parents, Mary and Tom, had their carte-de-visites made by Pugh. I have three of the hand-tinted cartes of the five children (Sally, Rebecca, and Tom). I have not yet seen the other cartes of this family — but they are out there somewhere.

In July 1866, J. A. Pugh began referring to his gallery as the Star Gallery at times, but on August 23, the Macon Telegragraph editor (but probably Pugh), also termed it his Photogaphic Temple of Art, and said that

his parlor is a most delightful place in which to while away an hour — either in examining the many gems with which the walls are adorned, or drawing forth or listening to the sweet tones of his fine piano.

The next day, August 24, the same newspaper ran an advertisement, in which he spoke again  in the third person, noting that Pugh, of The Triangular Block Photographic Gallery, “Takes the finest Pictures of an artist in the city. His Ivortypes and Photographs cannot be excelled.” His main competitors, in addition to A. J. Riddle, were new partners Lunquest and Mallory.  J. M. Lunquest’s partner was now artist Lee Mallory, who died somewhat mysteriously in late October of that year.

In September, J. A. Pugh was again calling his gallery, the Star Gallery. By November 1866, he advertised that “the long-established and justly celebrated Gallery of J. A. Pugh” had “advantages possessed by none in the city, — the new combination Side and Sky-light, which renders his pictures round, clear, soft, and brilliant.” Throughout December he continued to call his gallery the Star Gallery.

J. A. Pugh did not advertise as much in 1866, and it is probable that his brother Dave was again assisting him. Late in 1866, J. A. Pugh [later wrote that] he heard about the Exposition Universalle in Paris to be held the following year, and he made plans to go. On July 20, 1867, he sailed for Europe out of New York City.  He wrote that he was in New York for ten days prior to his departure for Europe, meaning he left Macon, Georgia about July 5, 1867. Pugh reached New York “after a pleasant sale of about sixty-five hours” via steamer from Savannah, acccording to his 1868 publication Leaves of a Wanderer; Being Notes and Incidents of Travel in Europe, his goal being to visit the Exposition, as well “travel for a short time in the Old World.”

Pugh dedication

J. A. Pugh, Leaves of a Wanderer….dedication page and publication data, photo via ipad by E. Lee Eltzroth, 2014, from a copy in Library of Congress, Rare Books, call number D967 P97

Pugh arrived in Liverpool, England, on July 30. He took the trip from Liverpool to London by rail, and he described “Some Observations on European Railroads” for his book, as well as discussed sights he saw there, including St. Paul’s Catheral, the British Museum, the Tower of London, the opera, and Madame Tossand’s. He also wrote he that he got into Parliament “by giving a guard a shilling, with young artist Lindsay of Cincinnati.” But most importantly, he wrote in his London section “Two Days Among the London Sharpers” (when some men got him into a betting game and tried to extract money from him), “beware of street acquaintances in large cities.”

He reached Paris on August 7th, and was there until the 25th. He was impressed with the liesurely pace of the French, where “nobody — seems to be in a hurry,” and wrote that “it is so different than our American cities, that it surprised me.” He visited the Exposition over three days, insisting “it must be seen for one to have a just conception.” For two full days in Paris, “the queen of European cities,” he rode “through and round the city, viewing its many public buildings and grand streets,” the Rue de Rivoli, Bois de Boulogne, and Champ Elysees. He visited the La Madeleine church, Notre Dame and more. He met other Georgians in Europe, in particular Col. Thompson, of the Savannah News, and Mr. A. C. Rogers, who wrote for Georgia newspapers under the pseudonym “Curran.”

Cholera was in Rome and other Italian cities, so Pugh traveled instead to Brussels, Belgium, arriving there on August 27, 1867. He met British and  Americans tourists with whom he toured the site of the battle of Waterloo. From Brussels he traveled to Cologne, Prussia [now Germany] and visited its great Cathedral, then traveled up the Rhine river to Baden Baden, stopping first in Wiesbaden. He retuned “from the continent” to London, “the great busy, smokey, Metropolis of the British nation,” but where things “appear to be on a such a grand scale.” Before leaving  for America about September 12, 1867, he decided to investigate their Metropolitan Railway system, where much is underground, “requiring the cars to be constantly lighted by gas.” He was also impressed by the city’s great telegraph system, the extent which “hardly has a limit.” The photographer certainly felt he was on the very cusp of change.

J.A. Pugh frontis Leaves

J. A. Pugh, frontis albumen print (opposite the title page) in Leaves of a Wanderer…, “The Author and Artist. Photographed in his Studio…” [photo possibly made by D. P. Pugh]; from book held by British Library (HMNTS 10107.bbb.21) and posted to Flickr

The final sections of Pugh’s Leaves of a Wanderer are “The Ladies,” and “The Difficulties of Travelling Without Knowing the Language.” In the former, he determined that “there is much beauty among them all,” prefering the English ladies over the French, and he found much beauty in the ladies in other countries he visited, but “the delicately chisled face, the pure spiritual beauty ………we will find it to predominate among our own American ladies more than in any other part of the world.” As for not knowing the language “one’s pleasure is much marred  — by his inability to converse —,” he recommended that one be “sufficiently conversant with the French language to be able to read the same.” He was fortunate to meet someone on his trip who could translate for him while he was in Paris, and that man introduced him to others who would also translate for him.

This publication gave Pugh the opportunity to convey his thoughts on “Photography,” to which he devoted a section but prior to that, he devoted a section to “The Fine Arts.” He comented on the art he saw on display by Americans at the Paris Exposition. He believed these paintings proved that “America has native talent which vies with the most gifted — painters in the old world.” But he concluded that “It is to be regretted that no more encouragement is given to art and artists in the United States.” He ended by stating that with Americans, they ask “will it pay?” and as to buying costly paintings “they can’t see [it].”

As for photography, Pugh thought the Americans were behind the Europeans only in landscapes or views, where “Europeans decidedly excel,” but “in portraiture the Americans are equal ——.” He goes on to give his brief history of photography, noting that “His Majesty, the Prince of Wales is an amateur and member of a photographic society for its object the advancement of the art.” He seems disturbed that “Most in our country practice the art from pecuniary motives.” But he admits that “The writer of this is among the number —- yet were I as rich as Croesus, I would still have my camera obscure and chemical laboratory —–.”

Outside of my own connection with the art, I hold it to be a duty every man owes his family, to have both his and their likenesses taken at least once a year; but to neglect it entirely, is as unpardonable as to neglect to educate one’s children.

He goes on, and on, and on, and adds:

Who is it that wishes to die like a brute, and be forgotten? To those who would remember, and be remembered by those they hold dear, this art commends itself, affording a cheap means of interchange in those little cartes de visite which forever call up fond recollections, and are links binding more family ties and social relations —

After a discourse on his appreciation of “the patronage of the many who have preferred, and still prefer me, as ‘their artist,’ and [I] shall spare no pains in the future, as in the past, to give them my very best efforts —–” This is followed by “The Ladies.” Pugh brings Leaves to a conclusion with an advertisment of four long paragraphs for “Photographic Improvements — Pugh’s Gallery.” Writing again in the third person, he lists his Gallery’s

number of improvements — The graduation of the light by means of shades —- the extension camera, with moveable glasses —-the convertable chair and furniture —- with new chemicals—– Aided by these, and the knowledge obtained from the World’s Exposition at Paris and the galleries of Europe generally, Mr. Pugh has now brought the Art to wonderful perfection, and his pictures are not to be excelled here or elsewhere. —–

J. A. Pugh began his publications with himself — a full-length photograph — and ended it with his own lengthy advertisement.

The Georgia Weekly Telegraph advertised the sale of Leaves of a Wanderer in later June, 1868, as did the Atlanta Constitution.

The  first suspicion — that our artist friend, J A. Pugh, aspired to literary laurels — It is a pamphlet of some sixty pages, adorned with a photograph picure of the author. It can be had at the Bookstores. (Georgia Weekly Telegraph, June 26, 1868, pg. 8)

We are indepted to Messrs Phillips & Crew — for a copy of [Leaves….] ——-. Ignoring the vanity of the author, as displayed in the frontispiece photograph of himself, his work of 64 pages will afford interesting reading for an idle hour. (Atlanta Constitution, June 25, 1868, pg. 2)

Back at work that fall, J. A. Pugh began entering his photographs in competition again. At the Putnam County Agricultural Club he obtained Honorable Mention for “a superior collecion of pictures and photogaphs” (Milledgeville Federal Union, Nov. 3, 1868, pg. 1). In 1869, he continued to use exaggeratation in his advertisments. When offering albums, which he could “supply at a very low price,” he could

then make you the pictures to fill it in such elegant style that you will always be proud to show them to your friends, and your children wil rise up and call you blessed, for leaving them such a sacred legacy. (Georgia Weekly Telegraph, Oct. 8, 1869, pg. 4)

In November 1869, Pugh again entered his photographic work in the State Fair, held in Macon, where his collection gained attention, and he received many orders for life-size portraits while he was there. These life-size portraits had been described three years previously in an “editor’s note” in the Macon Daily Telegraph (August 17, 1866, pg. 3) as “from the negative on prepared canvas, and [he] does the coloring afterwards,” continuing with “by the old process of portrait painting, —— the features were not [as] perfect.”

The “editor” of the December 28, 1869 Georgia Weekly Telegraph (pg. 3), described some of his recent “life-size and life-like” portraits, of persons, “some of whom are no  longer amongst us.” Those being packed to be sent out included life-size portaits of Dr. Ethridge, of Eatonton, one of him younger and in oil, and another as he was “now.” There was also a life-size copy from an ambrotype, which was to be sent to the family of Dr. John A Vigal, in Laurence [Laurens] County. Among this group of colored portraits was a pair, W. D. Jones and his wife, “which, for fine finish, are rarely equaled.”

In 1870 both of James A. Pugh’s brothers, Archmedes (“Arch”) and David (“Dave”) P. Pugh, according to that year’s census, were living and working with “Dolph.” Arch, forty-five, was a widower with three sons in North Carolina. He had spent a time as a goldminer the decade previous, and he apparently left Macon and went elsewhere within a few years. Dave, twenty-nine, was no longer his brother James’s formal partner, but had been assisting him for the last several years.

Pugh, J.A. cab backmark crop c1880

Cropped portion of a J. A. Pugh cabinet card back, showing his gallery at the corner of 2nd and Mulberrry streets, Macon, Georgia, where he moved in 1872.

In December 1870, J. A. Pugh hired artist Charles deLeon (1835-1907), “a graduate of the Antwerp School of Art,” but it is unknown who did the coloring, etc. the previous year. DeLeon, whose parents were born in Spain (father) and France (mother) was actually born in New York. According to census records, prior to arriving in Georgia, DeLeon had been working as a portrait painter in Harlem, Delaware County, Ohio, in August 1870, and he was back in Ohio for the 1880 census. The remainder of the piece announcing the new artist (Georgia Weekly Telegraph & Messenger, Nov. 29, 1870, p3c2), was devoted to the successful Pugh’s Gallery, where “We like to see a man succeed who deserves it, and we are glad to know that Pugh is doing that very thing.”

Throughout 1871, J. A. Pugh managed to have himself mentioned in the newspapers each time he found an opportunity  to do something the least bit different. Using a “calcium light held within a foot or two” of the Night Blooming Cereus, he photographed the bloom in front of a large crowd of onlookers (Macon Telegraph & Messenger, July 9, 1871, p3c2). That October he photographed the buildings and surroundings in Macon’s Central City Park, and he was to set up a a tent at that year’s Fair “ready to take views of the scenes as they transpire, or sketch the likenesses of all who may call upon him.” His tent was predicted to be very popular.

In January 1872, it was announced that J. A. Pugh won four premiums at that State Fair (held again in Macon) — for best Plain Plain Photograph, Best Porcelain Picture, best Life Size in Pastel, and a $10 prize for best Display of Photographs. Also that month “the old reliable Gallery” moved to the corner of Mulberry and Second streets. “Dave” Pugh, from that gallery, visited Milledgeville “with a pavillion for making cheap pictures” and would take orders for larger work to be processed in Macon (Southern Recorder [Millegeville, Ga.], January 9, 1872, pg. 3). Dave brought to Milledgeville a “Parisian apparatus” (camera) with which he could take nine to seventy-two pictures at one sitting. He also brought to “Pugh’s Pavillion” a variety of backgrounds, equal to “any first-class gallery’s in the country” (Federal Union [Millegeville, Ga.], February 28, 1872, pg. 3). By September 1873, D. P. “Dave” Pugh decided to leave Macon for Americus, Georgia, where he became a well-known photographer, and where he remained.

I plan to continue the story of Macon photographer James Adolphus Pugh, in a part 3, which will cover his career from 1873, until his death in early 1887. Meanwhile, I hope you discover a character as interesting as “Dolph” Pugh, in your own Hunting and Gathering!

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2019. 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. Frances Osborn Robb · · Reply

    Fascinating as always. Love the poems. Frances

    1. Thanks again, Frances, you are my favorite critic and will tell me truisms….the poems are wonderful!

  2. Thanks for more great research– Pugh’s poems and pamphlet are 19th century treasures! Are there many original copies of it in existence?

    1. Photographs, yes, but poems, I haven’t found any originals yet, but am in touch with some family of brothers, so maybe!

    2. There are two copies of the original pamplet in the USA – Library of Congress, and Duke University. There is also the British Library copy which they have put online. I own their printrd copy, and now have been able to download the digital copy. Let me know if the links I gave do not work!

  3. craig burkhalter · · Reply

    This is a great article. I’ve just become familiar with it. I am an artist and had the same studio for almost 30 years. The Contemporary Arts Exchange/Macon took over the building in the early 1990s. My studio was the 3rd floor corner, same as the engraving. We had about 20 artists, musicians and writers with studios. The organization came to the end around 2020 when the building was sold to develop apartments.

    1. Sorry if I did not reply to your very interesting comment. This is good info I will add to my JA Pugh data. Sort of sorry to see it developed into apartments as it will likely change the look of the building….

    2. Sorry not to get to this to reply to your very interesting information on that building.
      I will add this to the Pugh file. Sorry it is being developed into apartments or condos, it will change the look of this long standing “studio.”

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