Looking a Maryland Confederate in the Face: D. W. Culpepper Tintype of Charles Harvey Stanley

If the image on this tintype is, as I think possible, Charles Harvey Stanley (1842-1913), then the operator at D. W. Culpepper’s gallery captured the 24-year-old not long after he mustered out of the Confederate army, ca. 1866.

Ross Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900 lists D. W. Culpepper as occupying 127 W. Baltimore Street from 1866-1868. Culpepper has included “Successor to Leach’s” on the back, which helps confirm the date; William Leach occupied that address ca. 1863-1865. He may have bought back the gallery from Culpepper, because Leach again occupied 127 W. Baltimore Street 1868-1870.

If you look at the two other photographs of Charles H. Stanley that are accessible on the web, his distinctive hairline is the same, but on the opposite side. The technology of tintype photography explains this: Tintypes turned a negative image into a positive, so the image is reversed left to right.

One can trace a few faint lines of penciled signature behind the ink. The ink signature is not identical to the one he provided for his portrait and biographical sketch in volume one of 1907’s Men of Mark of Maryland, but there are similarities. If this portrait was a gift to his younger sister Eliza Stanley (1850-1928) she may have inked over the original pencil inscription.

Born in Saybrook, Connecticut but raised in St. Mary’s County and Laurel, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Charles was the son of an outspoken southern sympathizer, Rev. Harvey Stanley (1809-1885). Stanley was rector of Laurel’s Holy Trinity Episcopal Church from 1851 until his death.

During the run-up to the Civil War, Prince George’s County had the highest population of enslaved African-Americans in the state, and much of the white population identified with the Confederacy.

So, clearly, did Charles Stanley. In 1862, he traveled to Virginia to enlist  in the Confederate forces. He joined Company B of the First Maryland Cavalry Regiment and served until the southern forces surrendered in 1865.

By all accounts, Charles Stanley integrated easily and successfully into post-war Prince George’s County life. He studied law,  developed a prosperous practice, and became involved in many of the civic institutions of the county and the state. He was deeply interested in education, and was president of the Prince George’s County Board of School Commissioners as well as a trustee of the Maryland Agricultural College.

During his long career he was also elected to the Maryland House of Delegates, served as mayor of Laurel and as Comptroller for the State of Maryland under Governor Austin L. Crothers.

Both of Charles Stanley’s wives came from southern planter families with deep Maryland roots. Ella Lee Hodges (1844-1881) descended through her mother from some of the founders of Anne Arundel County.   His second wife, Margaret Snowden (1858-1916), was descended from one of the earliest settlers and largest landowners in Maryland, Richard Snowden.

Raised in Maryland’s plantation/slave economy, Charles fought for that way of life and married into it. He and his second wife, Margaret (Snowden) Stanley are buried at Ivy Hill Cemetery, Laurel, Md., in the heart of a region that today, ironically, boasts  the  most highly educated and “wealthiest African American-majority county in the United States.

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