Some More R&R with Readers & Research

As has happened in the past, in the last several months I’ve heard from regular readers as well as those who have found my blog via a search on a particular name. Much of what these readers have told me is valuble information that I did not have.

I’d like to share with you only three of several of the factual “stories” I’ve received. In alphabetical order, you’ve read posts here about photographers E. Jay Atwood, C. J. Warner, and N.C. White. You are about to learn even more than I knew before about these men.

Eldis J. Atwood (1867-1940) — I heard from a descendant of this photographer who worked in Madison, Macon, and briefly in Monticello, Georgia, and they found what I’d written in May 2013 on their great-grandfather, to be “very accurate,” so quite a compliment! What they thoughtfully shared with me is information on other aspects of this photographer’s life.

E. Jay Atwood, Madison, Georgia, woodblock print business card, carte-de-visite, ca. 1890; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

I knew the Atwoods were Christian Scientists. What I did not know is that E. J. Atwood made some of his own [photograph] equipment, and that in addition to the wood blocks he did, such as a self-portrait business card (seen at left) he had reproduced, Atwood also made sculpture! I haven’t seen any, but hope I can one day. I also hope to see the Jay Atwood glass negatives and prints this correspondent has.

I was also told E. Jay Atwood had a number of recipes he shared with family members — one for a shoe sole preserver, his “cure” for tuberculosis, and the best, his “prize” Atwood barbecue sauce. His daughter, Vera, along with some of his other descendants, made the last batch of the E. Jay Atwood BBQ sauce in 1987. If they make it again, I hope they invite me!

N.C. White – I have written a few times here on Hunting and Gathering about Nathan Carrel White and his son, also named Nathan Carrel White. Because there were two of them, and you rarely see the son referred to as “Junior,” it is easy to confuse the two photographers. The father’s dates are 1828 to 1913, and the son’s dates are 1870 to 1955. “Junior” began working with his father in his late teens, and they became known as N.C. White & Son. By the time the 1910 census was taken, the younger White had taken over the business, and his father was working for him. It is likely that “senior” had retired from doing too much in the studio at the age of 82.

Cabinet Card by N. C. White & Son, Gainesville, Georgia, ca. 1888; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

It is the son, always called N.C. White, that many older Gainesville citizens remembered as “the photographer,” and it is this man whose account book I have, and about whom I was contacted by three (finally four!) different people. The most signifcant item came from a relative of the woman Nathan married. I had assumed (I know, never assume) that Nathan remained single because he was still listed as single on the 1930 census, and he was by then sixty years old. But no! Eight years later, on 29 June 1938, when he was 68, White married Viola Blanche Lockhart. The 35 year-old Viola, who was listed with no occupation in the 1930 census, apparently began colorizing photographs in the White studio either just prior to, or just after their marriage. The woman who shared this information complimented my posts about the Whites, calling it “wonderful information,” but she also had this amazing bit of news for me, and I immediately updated the older post.

Another correspondent, whose family once ran the bakery in downtown Gainesville just across from the White studio, had more information for me. He told me that the younger Nathan, long before his late-life marriage, had a girlfriend, Francis Pfeffer, another Gainesville photographer about whom I’ve also written. I believe she learned “the art of photography” from Nathan, who was nine years older, which led to their friendship, and perhaps to dates. It may also have led to some (perhaps unfounded?) gossip about them, but there are photographs of them together, although usually with others. It seems that Nathan’s mother did not like the fact that Francis’s mother “worked” (she ran the family’s successful brick production business) and she wanted to be sure they did not marry. What a wonderful tidbit of information! The reader who shared this, thanked me for my “great work on these two players,” which absolutely made my day.

Advertisement for photographer N. C. White, North Georgia Cyclops, 1930

The third person who contacted me told me that she has an entire collection of White’s glass negatives, and she has colorized several of these. You can see others by the Whites on this related FaceBook page. They are wonderful images and I appreciate her gathering the White images together and sharing these with us. She also put me in touch with someone with quite a bit of material from the White Studio, including some of their studio equipment.

The White Studio is yet another of those in Georgia whose customers were both black and white Georgia citizens. I have written about this fact before, and spoken in public about it, and I continue to stress that many white photographers in the South had African American clients during what is termed the “Jim Crow” years. And at least one African American photographer I know of also had white clients during this time.

Another good source for other photographs made by N. C. White are found in Vanishing Georgia. In addition to photographs of the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary buildings and students, and of its name change, Breanau College, the photographs he made documenting the 1936 tornado are especially significant. There is a photo in this Vanishing Georgia series showing destruction of the April 6, 1936 tornado as seen in front of the Gainesville News, and in this one you can see the N. C. White Photo Studio on the right.

It had been a bad weather year, summer temperatures had been extremely high, winter temperatures had been extemely low. This storm was part of an outbreak of at least twelve tornados throughout the southeastern United States that began on April 5, but the states of Mississippi and Georgia were hardest hit. The storm hit Gainesville the morning of April 6, hitting Brenau College, and then downtown Gainesville, which was practically devastated; over 1600 were injured and over 200 persons were killed.

I’lll end with a tale regarding C. J. Warner (1834-1906) that completely surprised me. You may remember my anecdotal post about Warner called Love, Music, Photography & Scandal in a Little Georgia Town. That was a favorite of mine among those I’ve written about Georgia photographers. I thought the story of Warner leaving his wife and running away to New York with a much younger woman, was a very good one — but I did not know how telling it was about Charles J. Warner!

A fellow contacted me after reading about that exact post of mine about Warner. He told me that after reading my post (I now know that much I had theorized about Warner in that post was untrue), it appears that Charles Jacques Warner was in fact born John Warner, his ancestor. When John set out for the United States, he was only fourteen years old. He left his Buckinghamshire family, a mother (maiden name Jacques) and three siblings, in September 1848, and he “ran away to sea.” The family did not accompany him, or follow him.

Record for John Warner, in Britain, Merchant Seamen, 1835-1857 Records, original source National Archives (UK), as found on http://www.fndmypast.com

John Warner appears in the Merchant Seamen records as an apprentice seaman. He is listed on there as born in Amersham, Buckinghamshire (not in Gravesend, Kent, as he later told his wife, Betta, and as I repeated in my original post) on the the same day as Charles J. Warner. He (John, aka Charles) arrived at the dock in New Orleans, Louisiana (that is what he told Betta, and it may or may not be true), so if he was to have returned to the ship, he did not. According to the information accompanying the Merchant Seamen Records, these fellows were indeeed committed to “serve.” This was a group of seamen that “the central government created to monitor a potential reserve of sailors for the Royal Navy.”

My contact and I theorize that because he did not return to his ship (and he was contracted to do so), that would be the reason he changed his name, and place of birth — but not his birthdate, which is interesting. At some point he traveled to Texas, which makes sense if had been in Louisiana. We have yet to find him on the 1850 census, but he appears on the 1860 Texas census in Wilson/Bexar County (near San Antoino), with a wife and children! On October 16, 1857, he married Marianna Jarzombek, originally from Poland. By 1860, they had two children, Julia Louise (named for his mother), and Margaret. Charles Warner was working as a teamster.

In the summer of 1861, Warner enlisted in the Confederate Army, and he joined the 4th Texas Infantry as a musician (oh, of course!) for the duration of the war. He must have had a furlough, we think, because another child, Edith Ida, was born to Marianna in 1863. In 1864 and 1865 Warner spent a great deal of time in Richmond, Virgina, at the Confederate hospital at Howard’s Grove.

Apparently he liked Richmond, because he was there again in 1866, when he met Elizabeth “Betta” Brown and married her on March 29th. But — wait! Warner’s last child (or not his?), with Marianna Jarzombek, Albert, was born in December 1866, so he possibly had been in Texas at least earlier in the same month he (once again) married!

The Warner family in Texas thought Charles died sometime in 1866….and he had cerainly disappeared from their lives. They never saw their husband and father again, and Marianna remarried in 1869.

But in fact Charles was working in Richmond, Virgina, as a musician, until he began working with a photographer, and by 1869, the partners began a photo studio in White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia. By 1870, he and Betta had two children, a son born in 1867, in Virginia, Edward Grieg (John/Charles’s sister married a Grieg in 1849, so perhaps they stayed in touch), and a daughter born in 1869, in West Virginia, called Louisa (does that name sound familiar?). A bit of deja vu for Charles, aka John.

An early back mark of a C. J. Warner, Rome, GA tintype (Jink Davis); collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

By Spring 1871, Charles, with the help of his wife and her mother, Catherine Brown, bought a photo studio in Rome, Georgia, and another son, Charles Jacques (named after Charles’ “new” self) was born there about 1873. The rest of the Rome, Georgia, story involves the flute-playing musician-photographer Charles running off to New York City in January 1880, accompanied by a young woman singer, the daughter of their family friend. This friend, her father, was a violin-playing doctor, with whom Charles played music. He and his daughter were often guests in the Warner home, and they all attended the same church. It seems the rumors Betta had heard about her husband and the young lady singer were true. The story of the two, and their abduction of his daughter, Louise, known as Lulu, for the New York stage, has been told in my prior post (see link above).

Tintype by C. J. Warner, Rome, GA, of “Jink Davis,” ca. 1874; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

Charles finally wrote Betta a note telling her “it was all for the best.” He seems to have believed he could do to Betta exactly what he did to Marianna, and start another (#3) family! But Betta was not going to have it, and with the help of a detective, Charles was found, the young woman singer went back to her family, Betta went to court and had her daughter returned to her, and Charles stayed away from Rome at least through that summer. Wonder of wonders, Betta took him back within a year, and they stayed together until his death. Family was first with Betta — but what would she have thought if she knew about Charles’ family #1?

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs, without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. With permission, 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.

5 comments

  1. Johnny Vardeman · · Reply

    Lee, I have an N.C. White ad from a Gainesville newspaper. If you’d like me to e-mail it to you, send me your e-mail address. Johnny Vardeman, Gainesville, GA

    1. Thanks, but I have several ads of his, if you give me the citation, it’s see if I have it or will get via digital library of GA.

  2. woodpainter · · Reply

    Tinting or coloring photographs is an interesting subject. Your description is the third I’m aware of where the whole operation was done by wife and husband studios. I wonder if one had to be married to tint? :). In 1984 my parents had a golden anniversary portrait made. The portrait was in B&W and expertly tinted at the Earle Studio in Tuscaloosa AL. It is a lovely object. Someone should do some research on tinters.
    Thank you for the fascinating report on readers who write.

    1. You’re right, what a great subject for someone to pick up on and do! I imagine there are at least some papers or articles on the subject, but I haven’t looked into it.

  3. Johnny Vardeman · · Reply

    I also have an obit for N.C, White Sr. if interested.
    Johnny Vardeman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: