William Easley Woodall, “A Dear Friend of Baltimore Md.”

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I got lucky again with this identified portrait taken in the studio of John Holyland between 1865 and 1880.

On the back is written in old but still quite legible ink, “Mr. Wm. E. Woodall a dear friend of Baltimore Md. shipbuilder.”

Research in census records quickly turned up a William E. Woodall, ship builder, born in England in 1837. Through research in a newspaper archive, I learned that William E. Woodall & Co. was founded by three partners in Baltimore in 1873: William Woodall, his brother James, and Charles A. Witler. The announcement of the new partnership related that the yard was located on “the north side of the basin, near Reese’s Furnace.”

According to Robert C. Keith’s Baltimore Harbor: A Pictorial History (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), William Easley Woodall arrived in Baltimore from Liverpool in 1853, at the age of 15 (pp. 102-103). Woodall’s yard built and refitted all sorts of vessels until its closure in 1929. It is now remembered chiefly for its drydock:

“The yard he created had the harbor’s first drydock, a floating affair built at the Reeder wharf on Federal Hill in 1874. The 270-by-60-ft. drydock was a harbor landmark for 62 years. It could be sunk in 30 minutes to pick up a ship in need of paint or repair, and handled 50 or more vessels a year” (Baltimore Harbor, p. 103).

Keith’s volume includes a map of the harbor showing the location of the Woodall yard and many other docks.

Woodall died in 1884; his brother James in 1915. James is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Baltimore; it seems likely William is there as well. A third brother, Henry Easby or Easley Woodall (1827-1909), settled in Baltimore as a rigger after a career at sea and in the California gold fields. They may have had an elder sister, Hester Woodall Richardson, wife of ship’s joiner James Richardson.

John Holyland, chose a simple, vignetted bust for Woodall’s portrait. Subtle side-lighting delineates the features of a successful, confident, and vigorous man in the prime of life.

Carte de Visite by a Somewhat Less Young–but Still Rather Young–John Holyland

In 1865, at the age of 24, Baltimore photographer John Holyland sold the Washington, DC studio that his father had purchased for him and returned to the Monument city.

Young Holyland bought the J. H. Young studio at 205 West Baltimore Street–the same studio where only a few years before he had first learned the photographic craft.

The back-mark on this carte de visite says “Holyland’s (Late Young’s) Gallery,” so it probably dates from within a short time after Holyland came back to Baltimore.

Since there is no revenue stamp, it must have been taken after the tax ceased being collected on 1 August 1866.

The young lady may be posed so as to feature the ring on her left hand–possibly an engagement ring. Her hands stand out against the dark stuff of her full-skirted dress.

Carte de Visite by a Very Young John Holyland

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Thanks to its cancelled revenue stamp, this carte de visite can be dated to January 1865.  John Holyland (1841-1931) would have been only 24 when he made it.

Holyland was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, and  spent most of his career in Baltimore.  But according to a biographical sketch reprinted by Baltimore photography historian Ross Kelbaugh,  Holyland’s father Charles, an English-born engraver, bought a gallery in Washington for John when the youth had only been learning the photography trade for a few years, in the gallery of J. H. Young.

Holyland had not yet adopted the distinctive back-mark seen on most of his work: a sun-like disk or medallion radiating rays of light, surmounted by a snake-twined Christian cross.

In July of 1865, John Holyland married his cousin, Rebecca Hart, and returned to Baltimore, where he bought Young’s gallery and studio on 231 West Baltimore Street.

The image above reflects all of the conventions of 1860s studio photography: drapery, a diamond-motif tile floor,  and a chair on which the subject could steady himself.