Meet Mr. Willard C. Kefauver, Motorman

By: waldonia

Nov 07 2010

Category: David Bachrach

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Again I found two portraits of the same person in a group of card photographs. One was identified on the back as Willard C. Kefauver. Both were taken at  Bachrach and Bro. studios; the one on the left, with the dark chocolate mount, lists the address as “S.E. Corner Eutaw and Lexington.”

With a name like Willard Kefauver, he wasn’t hard to trace. Kefauver was born in 1861, probably in Frederick County, to Mary J. Dudrear (1837-1882) and Daniel Carlton Kefauver (1835-1914). Willard had a twin sister, Margaret Kefauver.

Daniel Kefauver was possibly the eldest of at least ten children of well-to-do Middletown, Frederick County farmer Henry Kefauver (1810-1876). The family spent at least some time living in Washington County. Henry, Daniel, Mary J. and other Kefauvers are buried in the cemetery of Christ Reformed Church, Middletown, Frederick Co., Maryland.

Willard did not remain in Frederick County. He moved to Baltimore, where he found work  as a motorman on railroad and the new electric trolley lines. He and his wife had a son, Russell Carlton Kefauver (b. 1890 or 1891, Baltimore), who also worked as a motorman.

Kefauver’s place of residence reflects the expansion of the city westward out Edmondson Avenue. In 1900, he and his family lived at 614 N. Payson Street, just north of Edmundson Avenue, several blocks west of Harlem Square, an area of modest but pleasant two-story, three bay brick row houses, many  built by prolific residential developer James Keelty.

I think it’s fairly safe to date both photographs to the 1880s. Mr. Kefauver is clearly younger and slimmer in the left-hand portrait. Darrah says rustic props such as the tree and bench were popular 1877-1885, and papier mache props–which these might be–were common 1880-1888.

The sitter appears  still young but definitely more well-fed in the left-hand portrait. The operator used a seated pose, with the bust filling most of the image area, common through 1890.

The chocolate mount with its elaborate advertising filling the entire card back places this photograph in the late 1880s-early 1890s. Ross Kelbaugh has documented Bachrach and Bro. at this location, Eutaw and Lexington, up to 1885.

What is indisputable is that the operator has caught something of the essence of the sitter’s character in the later portrait. Instead of a solemn youth awkward among contrived props, the camera  has now caught a mischievous twinkle that suggests a man who laughs often and enjoys life.

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