Hannah and Her Sister: Gem Tintype of Christiana Schaeffer Warehime and Hannah Schaffer Leister

This gem-size tintype of Hannah Shaeffer Leister  (1803-1867) and Christiana Schaeffer Warehime (1798-1863) of Carroll County, Maryland had to have been taken in 1863, when the Wing gem tintype camera was invented, because Christiana died in 1863.

Gem tintypes were the most inexpensive way to get many copies of a likeness at once. The camera had 16 lenses, which exposed 16 images, each the size of a postage stamp, onto an iron plate. These were mounted between two pieces of paper or cardboard. The scoring at the top of the card mount may indicate where the mounted images were divided.

Photographers often used tinting to add warmth and life to the dark images, such as has been applied to the cheeks of the sisters here.

Westminster and environs were populous enough to support at least one photography studio. During this period, according to Carroll County photo historian Bob Porterfield, Henry B. Grammer  kept a studio at “the Point,” where Pennsylvania meets West Main Street (Photographers & Photographs of Carroll County 1840-1940, Hampstead, Md., 2004)

Judging from the number of family trees on ancestry.com that include Hannah and Christiana Schaeffer, there seems to be wide interest from descendants. But many of them lead back to the same source, a mysterious 1999 file called PAUL.FTW.

One important source may be a 2000 family history called Descendants of Johann Diel Bohne by Mary Frances Conner Williams, Jennie Gunderson Board, accessible only in a handful of libraries across the country and probably at the Historical Society of Carroll County.

From what I’ve been able to glimpse of this book on the web, Hannah and Christiana were the children of John Jacob Schaeffer (1755-1828) and Anna Maria Pouder. Both Hannah and Christiana married Westminster-area farmers: Hannah to David Leister (1790-1868), and Christiana (also known as Anna or Christina) to George Warehime (1790-1880).

The best evidence I’ve located are the many carefully documented graves in Carroll County cemeteries. John and Anna Maria Schaeffer, along with Hannah Schaeffer Leister and many others, are buried in Kriders Lutheran Church Cemetery near Westminster, Maryland.

Christiana Schaeffer Warehime and many other Warhimes are buried in Jerusalem Lutheran Church Cemetery, Bachman Valley, Carroll County, Maryland.

Hannah and Christiana dressed alike and have arranged their hair alike as well. Only slight differences in the style of buttons and the patterns of their white linen collars distinguish their costumes. But what draws the viewer is the way the sisters lean into one another, a posture that expresses the affection that led them to have their portrait taken not with their husbands or children, but together, as sisters.

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