“Mr. Fugle, Mother’s Employer”

James Fugle (1836-1910), described in the 1880 Federal census of Baltimore as a “keeper of ladies emporium,” appears in Baltimorean Elizabeth Gaither Summers‘ photo album as “mother’s employer.”

But which mother? Elizabeth worked as a sales lady before her marriage. Her mother-in-law, Anna Louise Ross Summers, who lived with Elizabeth and Charles D. Summers, worked as a seamstress and dressmaker.

James and his brother Frederick Fugle (b. abt. 1845) were English; James emigrated in 1867 and Frederick three years later. James may have been the “James Fuggle,” “draper’s assistant,” born in Sevenoaks, Kent, listed in the 1851 and 1861 censuses of England. They may have been the sons of Sevenoaks tailor Samuel Fuggle (b abt. 1800). The houses where they lived, “Taylor’s Cottages,” on 55 Akehurst Lane, Sevenoaks, are still in existence.

James’ Baltimore concern on North Charles Street (later West Townsend Street) was known as Fugle & Co. Dry Goods or just James Fugle & Co. An 1890 directory of Baltimore lists their merchandise as “cloaks, furs, costumes, etc.”

Advertisements from the 1870s and 1880s call for skilled “cloakmakers”–seamstresses–and cloth-cutters to work in their shop, so they were not only selling but producing ladies’ clothing.

Talking up Baltimore goods to the Baltimore SUN in December 1889, Fugle is decidedly a “go-er,” as they might once have said: a self-confident merchant and manufacturer surveying his sales floor with satisfaction as the holiday shopping season begins:

“When you see a man’s clerks on the jump, as you see them here, and you hear him complain about dull times put him down as a chronic kicker, whose life is a burden to him. . . . Do you know that Baltimore is the cheapest market in the United States for fine goods? Now, in the matter of riding habits, where everything must be of the best, we can sell them just as good in every particular, as Redfarn of New York, and at one-half of his prices.”

The Fugles became wealthy enough to travel to Europe, and to keep a  summer home in the Waverly area of Baltimore County.

James Fugle died at his Arlington, New Jersey home of pneumonia in February 1910, and is buried in Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery.

He and his wife, Laura Walsh Fugle, had three children: Hellen (“Nellie;” later Mrs. George D. Thompson); Frederick Walsh Fugle, who settled in Montclair, New Jersey, married Nellie LaSalle Canton, daughter of sculptor John LaSalle, and worked in a paper and twine business; and Edyth, who married Canadian furrier George K. Campbell and settled in Kearny, New Jersey.

James and his brother  Fred C. Fugle apparently parted ways, and Frederick did not share in the prosperity of his elder brother. He remained in Baltimore, employed in a series of sales jobs.

Fugle thought well enough of “mother” to give her a portrait of himself. It’s a classic Bachrach portrait of the early 20th century: a dignified head and shoulders against a tasteful neutral background, on the new larger mount–cut down, no doubt to fit in the album.

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