Rare Images of Antietam and the Photographers Who Took Them

Thanks to a Hagerstown pal, I’ve acquired and am devouring Steve Recker’s wonderful new book Rare Images of Antietam and the Photographers Who Took Them.

A Washington County native, Recker has researched the lives of all the major photographers who took photos of Antietam battlefield: Elias Marken Recher, David Bachrach, W. B. King, J. H. Wagoner, and more.

Recker carefully investigated how each photographer came to take their pictures, and has painstakingly worked to understand what is depicted in each. Also included are some rarely-seen images of the photographers themselves. Some of these cartes de visite and stereoviews have never been seen before.

And you can’t get it on Amazon–only at area bookstores and at Recker’s site, Virtual Antietam. So virtually run, don’t walk, to his site and grab a copy before they sell out.

Read a Q & A with the author on John Banks’ Civil War Blog.

Read an article about Recker and his career in the Hagerstown Daily Mail.

From Susan Bear’s Album: Mr. and Mrs. Martin Bear

Taken at the Hagerstown, Maryland studio of Elias Marken Recher, this carte de visite photograph was found in an album that belonged to their daughter, Susan Bear (1836-1909) of Hagerstown.

On the reverse is written “Mr. and Mrs. Martin Bear’s pictures taken from a Ferrotype [aka tintype] June 18th 1872”.

Well-to-do Maryland-born  farmer Martin Bear or Baer (1799-1872) and Elizabeth (Stahl) Bear (1795-1875) had seven daughters: Christianna (b. 1824), Mary Elizabeth (b. 1825), Lydia (1828-1865), Sarah Catherine (b. 1831), Louisa (1834-1888), Susan and Anna (1839-1927) .

Only four of the seven Bear girls married that I can determine: Lydia married Washington County farmer William Wisherd, Louisa married a TroupMary Elizabeth married Burkittsville, Maryland dry goods merchant John Hightman or Heightman, and Sarah married Williamsport grocer Caleb F. Eakle.

According to the 1878 advertisement of the trustees’ sale of Martin Bear’s estate, Bear owned at his death 208 acres about five miles from Hagerstown, where the Williamsport and Greencastle Turnpike crossed the Western Turnpike. The estate included a stone house, orchards, a well, a stream, a barn, etc.

Although I have not yet been able to determine Martin Bear’s parentage, I am guessing that two others who lived close to him–Isaac Bear (b. abt. 1790, Md.) and John Bear (b. abt. 1796, Md.) were his brothers or close relations.

Another Bear/Baer named John M. Bear (1822-1878), who was probably a close relation, emigrated quite early to Pine Creek Township, Ogle County, Illinois. The evidence for the connection is the presence in Susan Bear’s album of six tintype portraits of John M. Bear’s children: Isaac Martin Bear, John Buchman Bear, Levi Rowland Bear, Rose Miranda Bear, Lilly Almira or Elmira Bear, and Mary Kate Bear (more about this family in future posts).

Susan’s jewel-like album, studded with white beads and held by metal clasps, measures about 4-1/2″ x 6″. It is inscribed on the flyleaf “Christmas gift / Presented to Susan Bear / Dec 25th 1869 by / Mr. L . . . R . . . . . “

The Bear family may have scattered to Ogle County and beyond, but the affection Martin Bear felt for his wife, even after a long and arduous life together, still feels fresh in this wonderful image.

Martin Bear and Elizabeth (Stahl) Bear are both buried in Riverview Cemetery, Williamsport, Washington County, Maryland.

Marmaduke Wyvill “Duke” Boyd by B. W. T. Phreaner

Son of Maryland Free Press printer Andrew George Boyd (1825-1885) and Catherine Hawken, “Duke” Boyd (1850-1876) was named for his grandfather, a wealthy Washington County farmer and surveyor born in 1790.

Duke attended Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and became a printer and newspaper editor, like his father. What little is known about him comes from the research of a diligent findagrave.com volunteer, who has posted obituaries for Duke and his parents. All are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown, Maryland.

This carte de visite portrait of Boyd shows him in the vigor of young manhood. My guess is that Phreaner took it  in the early 1870s.

Bascom W. T. Phreaner (1845-1932), son of Hagerstown tailor William Phreaner and Emma Wagner, was working as a photographer in Hagerstown by 1870, and according to census records, continued in the trade until at least 1910.

According to a 1911 article in the Baltimore SUN, Phreaner began learning photography in 1860, at the age of 15, in the studio of Elias Marken Recher, and set up for himself in 1866 (“Through a Foothills Eden with a Camera,” 7 May 1911)–but Phreaner was advertising for himself in the Hagerstown Herald and Torch Light as early as 1864.

The article describes Phreaner’s delight in rambling the countryside with his kit to take landscape views as well as views of Antietam’s battlefield.

A 1958  letter to the editor of the Hagerstown Daily Mail recalls Phreaner as “a tall, dignified man, well-read, dignified, scholarly,” who used no stronger language than “gosh dog” (Hagerstown Daily Mail 16 April 1958).

Phreaner sold his studio about 1908 and continued working from his Potomac Street home. He died at the Hanover, Pennsylvania home of his son, Leighton K. Phreaner, in March 1932, and  is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown.

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.