Archive for the ‘Rochester NY’ category

Piercing Eyes, Silent Voices

November 30, 2011

“When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes.  But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!”  Canadian photographer Ted Grant seems to be on to something with that quote.  I take many photographs that tell a story to help me remember the moment.  However, they seem to just capture the main object in the frame.  When I look at black and white photos, I feel as if I can truly see the souls of the people looking back at me.  Their eyes tell a story though their voices have been silenced.

I love digging through old photographs and ephemera at antique shops or searching online for missing genealogical links.  My goal is to find a treasure; however, my idea of a treasure has nothing to do with jewels or money.  My idea of treasure consists of locating items of local historical significance.  My treasure might be photographs of people who lived in my community generations ago.  My treasure could be a program from a 1921 estate sale which took place on the land I live on today.  My definition of treasure is knowledge.

Mustache Man

Last month, after perusing old photographs on eBay looking for interesting images, I came across a cabinet card of an unidentified man.  His eBay title was “Mustache Man”, and that is what I called him.  Mustache Man’s photo was taken in 1891 by photographer A. E. Dumble of Rochester, New York.  Despite looking at hundreds of images, I kept returning to Mustache Man.  He spoke to me.  Thankfully, Mustache Man didn’t speak to anyone else, because I won the auction and Mustache Man returned home to Rochester.  The image shows a young man, early-to-mid 30s, with dark blonde or light brown hair, a handlebar mustache, cleft chin and clear blue eyes.

After posting Mustache Man’s photo on Illuminated History Facebook, I asked for assistance in naming him.  Our Facebook friends suggested some interesting names, including Kind Hearted Ken, Handlebar Harry and Antonio.  The name that fit our Mustache Man was Samuel Everheart.  Samuel seemed to agree, because I could swear his eyes twinkled when I called him by name.

I wish I knew Samuel Everheart’s true identity.  Did he marry and have children?  Did he live a long life?  Who is this mystery man?  If Samuel’s mother/sister/wife had only placed his name on the back of the photo, we would have answers to these questions.  It is SO important to label your family photographs!  If all you have time to do is write the name on the back, that is better than nothing.  I like to include the photo date and place the photo was taken as well.  Think of how much more we could learn about Samuel if only someone had recorded these important bits of information.

The moral of the story is this:  Don’t allow your family members to become silent voices languishing in the bargain bin at the local antiques shoppe.  Label your photos and preserve your family history for generations to come.

Exciting Illuminations to Come!

February 23, 2010

Although it has been over a month since I last posted, don’t think I am slacking off.  If anything, I am busier than ever planning more illuminations!

  • On Wednesday, I will interview a World War II veteran about his experiences during and after the war. 
  • Thursday’s agenda includes a meeting with the Pittsford Town Historian to discuss various research avenues.
  • I’ve been contacted by a local author who specializes in archives.  He wants to discuss the possibility of co-authoring an article with me about the Civil War.  My appointment with him is on Saturday. 
  • My tour at Pittsford Cemetery, co-hosted with Audrey Johnson, has been scheduled for Saturday, May 15, at 10:00 a.m.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of my old friends, and meeting new ones as well, as we delve into the lives of our local Civil War soldiers and other Pittsford notables.
  • Another cemetery tour, for the Perinton Historical Society, has just been scheduled for Tuesday, June 8, 7:00 p.m., at Greenvale Cemetery.
  • I am hard at work writing an article about Civil War nurse and Woman’s Relief Corps charter member Mary Jewett Telford for an upcoming issue of the Perinton Historical Society’s newsletter, the Historigram.
  • Genealogy is a daily part of my life.  If I am not researching my Civil War soldiers, then I am working on the genealogy of my friend, Floris A. Lent.  Amazingly, Floris has many Civil War soldiers in her family.  She is also related to Dr. Robert O. Wilson, a Methodist physician who was in Nanjing, China in the 1930s during the Nanjing Massacre. Not only that, Floris is also related to Susan B. Anthony on both sides of her family.   Some people have all the luck!

In the coming weeks and months, many changes will occur on Illuminated History.  Although my heart remains with my Pittsford Civil War boys, I will begin to illuminate other local history as well.  My research into the Perinton Civil War soldiers will be shared, as will my interviews with local World War II veterans.  I’m very excited to illuminate local history for you, and I welcome your comments and suggestions.  Please feel free to post a message on Illuminated History, or email me directly at vprofitt@rochester.rr.com.

I Feel Dead People

December 7, 2009

“I see dead people,” I exclaimed to my husband.  I could immediately see the concern on his face as his eyebrows drew up and his eyes crinkled in slight disbelief.  After assuring him I was speaking metaphorically and that I probably wasn’t crazy at this particular time, he relaxed a little.  What I probably should have said was that I feel and appreciate the history of the cemetery and its inhabitants.  To me, a cemetery is an outdoor museum and not just a park containing headstones.

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been fascinated with cemeteries.  When I was young, my Gram and I would go to Riverside Cemetery and to Holy Sepulchre to visit her mother and her sister, Nellie, who had died as a child.  As a pre-teen I’d ride my bike to the little cemetery near my home, buy a Coke from the pop machine at the fire hall across the street and spend time reading the headstones.  And every summer during my teen years, I’d head to the St. Lawrence River where my friend Laurie and I would walk through the Morristown cemetery looking for unusual monuments and monikers.  Now that I am an adult, my interest in these outdoor museums has grown and sharpened.

The conversation occurred as we discussed my upcoming Civil War soldiers presentation for the Perinton Historical Society.  What was my theme?  What did I hope to accomplish?  Why did I choose these specific soldiers to discuss?  My husband hit upon the theme first.  My goal, not only for the presentation but for my entire Civil War project, is to illuminate the lives of the Civil War soldiers who lived in our neighborhoods.  Everyone has heard the stories about General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee.  Multiple books and movies tell their stories.  But who tells the stories of the regular citizens who helped in the war effort?  The men who left their families behind.  The women who tended the children, balanced the books and ran the farm while their husbands fought many miles from home.

The cemeteries hold the keys to many mysteries.  I find comfort in the fact that so many soldiers are buried beside their loved ones.  It serves as a reminder that they were loved and remembered in death, as in life.  I feel sorrow for the soldiers who are buried in single graves.  Where were their families?  Did they marry?  Were they fathers?  The first time I walked through Pittsford Cemetery photographing the graves of these men, those thoughts occurred to me.  I felt a force drawing me to them.  “Our stories must be told.  We were important, too.  Bring us to light.”

I suppose I should have said, “I feel dead people”.  That would have been the truth.  So, while the soldiers I decided to discuss at my presentation were chosen because they were Perinton residents who had interesting stories to tell, they aren’t the only ones.  I will continue on the path that was chosen for me by the soldiers of yesterday.  I will tell all their stories, one by one.

Mount Hope Cemetery Civil War Tour

August 1, 2009
Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY

It was an unusually beautiful day today in Rochester, New York.  Warm weather prevailed as puffy white clouds filled the skies – a perfect day for a cemetery tour.  How fortunate that Mount Hope was holding their annual Civil War tour this afternoon!

Local historian and columnist Bob Marcotte led the tour, assisted by Friends of Mount Hope president Marilyn Nolte.  We began the tour with Major George B. Force of the 108th, who fell at Antietam.  You’ll recall that two of the Ambrose boys, Robert and Edward, were with the 108th.  Next was Frank A. Badger of the 140th.  Frank was missing and presumed dead after the battle of the Wilderness.  His body was never recovered, but there is a stone in his memory.  One of my Pittsford boys, Matthias L. Lord, was Assistant Surgeon of the 140th.  I wonder if Matthias knew Frank Badger?  We eventually visited seven Civil War soldiers, some of whom died in action.  Others, like Albert Hotchkiss of the 8th NY Cavalry, died at Andersonville Prison.  Several of my Pittsford soldiers were with the 8th Cav.  They will be discussed in upcoming posts.

After the tour the group, about 40 strong, headed back to the cool confines of the gatehouse for some refreshments.  Bob graciously signed his book, Where They Fell, for the interested tour-goers.  As always, it was a pleasure hearing Bob speak.  He is so knowledgeable about Rochester’s Civil War soldiers.

If you haven’t been on a tour at Mount Hope, I’d highly recommend the experience.  There is a lot of walking and many hills, but there are so many beautiful and unique monuments to see.  If you are interested in historical figures, you can find those residing at Mount Hope as well.  Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Western Union founder Hiram Sibley and architect Fletcher Steele are among the many notables whose earthly remains were laid to rest at Mount Hope.

Mike Battle Illuminates Rochester History with the Flour City Post

June 7, 2009

Many people know that Rochester, New York is nicknamed the “Flower City,” due in large part to the Ellwanger & Barry Nursery Co.  Fewer people know that Rochester’s original nickname was the “Flour City” because of the numerous flour mills that were located all along the Genesee River.  Mike Battle knew about Flour City, and chose to name his new business the Flour City Post.

State Street in Rochester, NY

State Street in Rochester, NY

Mike Battle is dedicated to reviving Rochester’s past by the digital restoration of vintage Rochester postcards.  His Flour City Post sells black & white, sepia tone and color prints in three sizes based on these amazing images of Rochester history and architecture. 

Check out the Flour City Post website at www.flourcitypost.com.


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