B. W. T. Phreaner: Chewsville Chums

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I fell for this carte de visite the moment I saw it. Photographer B. W. T. Phreaner, who operated a studio in Hagerstown from 1866 to 1901, posed  these three young Chewsville friends out on the town one day in the late 1860s.

The owner of the carte carefully identified each youth on the back, with corresponding inked numbers, and wrote their home town, Chewsville, below their names.This nameless person’s care enabled me to trace something of their lives.

It seems probable that John F. Rinehart (center) and Jacob T. Wolf (left) knew each other from childhood. They likely crossed paths with William C. Mullen at father Hiram Mullen’s store in Chewsville, a village in Washington County, Maryland about five miles east of Hagerstown.

John F. Rinehart was born in Washington County, Maryland in April 1847, the son of farmer Henry B. Rinehart (1818-1901) and Ellen Maria Beard Rinehart (1826-1892). John married Martha Lyday, daughter of Leitersburg tavern-owner Samuel Lyday, in 1844.

John and Martha  farmed near Leitersburg, and later near Chewsville, in Washington County. Their son Henry S. Rinehart was born in February 1870.  A second son, George Frank Rinehart, was born about 1874, and a daughter Carrington N. Rinehart three years later. Son Hubert Carleton Rinehart followed in 1884.

Born November 1848, Jacob Thomas Wolf was the son of Funkstown farmer Joseph M. Wolf and Catherine Thomas Wolf and grandson of  prominent Dunker (Brethren) Church member Joseph Wolf (b. 1783). In 1860, the Wolfs were neighbors of the Rineharts in the Funkstown area. By 1870, the Wolfs had relocated to the Chewsville area, where their affairs prospered. Joseph Wolf reported owning land worth $10,000, and household goods worth $1,000. In 1900, Jacob and his wife Rosa were farming on their own in the Cavetown area, on Hagerstown Pike, and had two boys, Joseph L. Wolf and Harry L. Wolf.

The two families, Wolf and Rinehart, became related by marriage when John Rinehart’s nephew Charles H. Rinehart married Jacob Wolf’s daughter Leona Wolf in 1898.

William C. Mullen, born about 1849 in Maryland, was the son of Virginia-born merchant Hiram H. Mullen. By 1870, they had moved from Catoctin, Frederick County, to Chewsville, where William and his older brother Harvey clerked in their father’s store. Hiram Mullen was appointed Chewsville’s postmaster in 1870.

Bascom W. T. Phreaner (1845-1932), son of Hagerstown tailor, William Phreaner and Louisanna Bowman Phreaner, learned photography from Hagerstown photographer Elias Marken Recher (1829-1887). According to Breed’s Directory of the Western Maryland Railroad for 1892, Phreaner’s studio was located at 4 Washington Street, on the public square at Potomac Street, and the building may still be in existence. Phreaner is believed to be buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown.

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