Church of the Holy Trinity, Oxford, Maryland

Cartes de visite and cabinet card photographs of notable buildings and places in Maryland are always exciting to find.

This cabinet card by Aloise Reiser of Easton, Maryland depicts the one of Talbot County’s better known churches, the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity on South Morris Street, Oxford Neck.

According to the church’s brief historical sketch, wealthy Talbot County landowner General Tench Tilghman of Plimhimmon was the driving force behind the establishment of a third church in the parish in 1852, but the war and the population loss brought about by the closure of the Maryland Military Academy left construction to languish incomplete until the end of the nineteenth century.

The building, designed by influential ecclesiastical architect Richard Upjohn, was completed in 1894. According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, the photographer, Reiser, was working in Easton from 1894-1897, so it seems plausible to suppose this photograph was taken during that period.

An Aloise Reiser, born about 1868, Bavaria, is listed in the 1880 census of Chapel, Talbot County, Md., son of carpenter Johann Reiser; this is the only trace of the photographer I have found in vital records.

In Where Land and Water Intertwine: An Architectural History of Talbot County, Maryland, historian Christopher Weeks says the church was completed and dedicated in 1892, without “the tower called for in Upjohn’s original plan” (Weeks, 212).

The church, according to Weeks, underwent some alterations after it was rebuilt following a 1945 fire: “the entrance was relocated from the north to the west facade with a circular window above; and the chancel was enlarged.”

This view is from behind the church, looking in through the windows above the altar and chancel. The Easton Diocese of the Episcopal Church has a small modern photograph that offers a slightly fuller view of the church from a similar angle.

The Two Mrs. Alexander Chaplains: Emily Thomas

My last post concerned a portrait of Elmira or Elma Kemp Chaplain (1837-1869), first wife of Talbot County Superintendent of Schools Alexander Chaplain (1835-1918).

A short time after I acquired that portrait, I had the very good fortune to find a portrait of Chaplain’s second wife, Emily, also called Emma, Thomas (1838-1904), in an old album of Maryland portraits.  On the back is written “Aunt Emily Chaplain, Uncle Alex’s 2nd wife.”

Emily Thomas, daughter of Dorchester County farmer Algernon Thomas and Deborah Shannahan, married Alexander Chaplain in 1872.  In 1880, Emily bore a half-sister, Eleanor Chaplain,  for her husband’s daughter Maude.

This  carte de visite portrait was made at the studio of Frank Kuhn, in Baltimore. According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, Kuhn , who also partnered for a time with James Cummins, occupied 48 and 50 N. Charles Street 1879-1880. Note that Kuhn identifies himself not as a photographer, but as an” artist.”

Emily sports a long curl worn over one shoulder, a style typical of the 1870s, and possibly made of false hair.

Other surnames found in this album of mostly western Maryland portraits are Spalding, Bourne, Bowers, Willis and Martin. The presence of one Chaplain, referred to as the wife of an “uncle,” and another of Margie Robinson, one of Alexander Chaplain’s nieces (see previous posts under “Chaplain Family”), sent me on a frustrating search for family connections that remains full of unsolved puzzles.

The Two Mrs. Alexander Chaplains: Elmira Kemp

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When a number of cartes de visite from the very old Chaplain family of Trappe, Talbot County, Maryland came up for auction recently, I was fortunate to acquire some of them. One that got away: A portrait of Alexander A. Chaplain (1835-1918), a graduate of Dickinson Collge, teacher and Talbot County’s Superintendent of Schools for many years.

I did, however, manage to acquire a carte portrait of one of his two wives.

Chaplain was married twice: first, to his Trappe neighbor Elmira, or Elma, Kemp (1837-186), and second, to a Dorchester County lady, Emily Thomas (1838-1904).

Elma was the daughter of Trappe physician Samuel Troth Kemp and Elizabeth Hardcastle Kemp. Elma and Alexander had a daughter, Maude.

Elma’s sister Evalina Kemp married Alexander Chaplain’s brother, physician James Stevens Chaplain (1827-1908).

Elma may be buried in the private Kemp cemetery in Trappe. Alexander is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Easton.

The carte de visite portrait above was taken in Philadelphia, by Edward P. Hipple, Arch Street. Mr. Hipple advertised the advantage of a “skylight on ground floor,” meaning ladies would not have to climb several staircases to reach the studio.

If the full sleeve, dropped at the shoulders, and the wide skirt, weren’t enough to do so, the simple setting, steadying chair and plain advertising mark all place this carte in the early 1860s.

Portrait of Charles D. Summers

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Charles D. Summers (1870-1948), husband of Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers, was the son of Talbot County furniture-maker and carpenter Samuel A. Summers (b. abt. 1832, Md.) and Anna Louise Ross Summers (b. abt.1850, Md.).

Charles, one of ten siblings raised in the village of Trappe, became a house carpenter. Sometime between 1880 and 1900, he moved to Baltimore, along with his mother, his younger brother Joseph Eugene Summers,  an aunt, possibly his grandmother Ellen Bullen Ross‘ sister, Anna L. Bullen, and a cousin, Mabel G. Ross.

By 1900, they were settled at 1936 West Lafayette Avenue, and Charles had found steady employment as a house carpenter. The block is a street of tidy two-story, two-bay row houses with bow windows, in an area, north of Edmondson Avenue and west of Harlem Park and Lafayette Square, that was undergoing rapid residential development at the turn of the century.

Elizabeth Gaither’s father, Vachel H. Gaither, was also a house carpenter, so perhaps Elizabeth met her future husband through their connection with the building trades.

Elizabeth and Charles had one daughter, Margaret Ross Summers (b. abt. 1905, Baltimore, Md.).

According to Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers, London Studio, where Charles Summers had his portrait taken, was located at 5 W. Lexington Street ca. 1894-1895. That would make Charles about 25 at the time of the photograph.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (

Keeping the Family Together: Elizabeth Gaither Summers

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Old photograph albums are continually being sold, their contents removed and re-sold piecemeal. An album owned by Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers (b. abt. 1866), wife of Baltimore carpenter Charles D. Summers (b. abt. 1870), recently met the same fate.

When a number of identified cabinet card photographs came up for auction on the web recently, I felt a strong desire to keep as many of them together as possible. I began to build a Summers-Gaither family tree (available to registered members on, and to add portraits there.

With the tree and clues from the i.d.’d photos, I’m attempting to reconstruct something of the family’s history.

Elizabeth was the daughter of carpenter Vachel H. Gaither (b. 1824, Anne Arundel Co., Md.) and Margaret Robinson Gaither (b. abt. 1830, Md.).

The Gaithers go back to the very beginning of Anne Arundel County; Vachel’s grandfather and namesake was a Captain in the Severn Battalion of the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War.

Intriguingly, it’s the building trade that links the Summers and the Gaithers in Baltimore. Young Vachel brought his family to Baltimore after the Civil War, probably to take advantage of building work as the city boomed.

The Summers family probably came to Baltimore for much the same reasons. Charles’ father, Samuel A. Summers (b. abt. 1832) had been a furniture-maker in Trappe, in south Talbot County.

Son Charles D. Summers took up the house carpentry trade and came to Baltimore with his mother, Anna Louise Ross Summers (b. abt. 1850), daughter of Trappe shoemaker Charles H. Ross and Ellen M. Bullen; probably Samuel’s second wife), and siblings sometime between 1880 and 1900.

The studio of photographer James S. Cummins has been documented at 106 N. Charles Street in Baltimore 1888-1890 and 1893-1899 (Kelbaugh, Directory of Maryland Photographers 1839-1900). Under this assumption, the oldest that Elizabeth Gaither Summers could be in this cabinet card photograph would be about 39 years of age.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (

Margaret Robinson, Daughter of Sarah Chaplain Robinson

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This carte de visite by Walter J. L. Dyer is another in the group I purchased from the same Talbot County lot of card photographs. It depicts the vignetted  head of Margaret L. “Margie” Robinson, the daughter of Sarah Chaplain (b. abt. 1832, Trappe, Talbot Co., Md.) and James Lowery Robinson (1829-1914).

Sarah Chaplain was one of Dr. James Stevens Chaplain’s siblings (see prior post). The Chaplains traced their ancestry back to Francis Chaplain, who is believed to have arrived in Talbot County about 1660 from Suffolk County, England and settled around a village that became known as Trappe.

Trappe is about nine miles almost due south of Easton on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The village grew up at the crossroads of two routes, one running north-south between Easton and Cambridge, and the other running east-west. Even though its population never seems to have been much above 400, the town had four churches, three physicians, and several hardware and general stores.

An 1877 map of Trappe shows Dr. James Stevens’ home on the south end of the village, and Mrs. J. L. Robinson’s home near the crossroads.

The vendor who removed this photo from its original album copied the notes he found there onto the back of the carte: “Margaret (Margie) Robinson, Aunt [illegible] daugther, died young” Born about 1863, probably in Baltimore, Margaret may have died between 1870 and 1880 based on her absence from the family in the 1880 census.

The pose chosen by Dyer is quite similar to that used in a carte of Margaret’s sister, Eliza Robinson Lloyd (see previous post): Lit from above , head turned to the right.

According to William Darrah’s Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography, the cherubs and camera motif was popular as a back-mark ca. 1866-1874.

During the 1860s and early 1870s, Dyer partnered with the New York-born photographer J. M. Van Wagner at the same address, 468 W. Baltimore Street, in Baltimore. Dyer, son of a Towson grocer, lived with the Van Wagner family in 1870.

At some point during the 1870s, Dyer became sole proprietor of the studio. By 1880, he had given up photography to go into the grocery business.

Eliza Robinson Lloyd of Trappe

This delicately side-lit carte de visite vignette of a very young Eliza Robinson Lloyd is one of the photographs sold from a Talbot County collection containing many card photos from the Chaplain family.

Eliza Robinson was the daughter of James Lowrey Robinson and Sarah S. Chaplain. Eliza (b. abt. 1860) , whose nickname may have been “Lida,” married Trappe farmer Charles B. Lloyd in 1883, when she was 23 years old.

Eliza and Charles had two children: Helen Lloyd and Charles Francis Lloyd (b. 1887, Easton or Trappe, Talbot County, Md.) Charles became an electrical engineer for Westinghouse in Pittsburgh. Helen remained single and lived in Easton with her parents.

Sarah Chaplain, Eliza’s mother, was the daughter of James Chaplain and Eliza Stevens. Sarah likely grew up in the small Talbot County village of Trappe. Her brother, Dr. James Stevens Chaplain, is the subject of an earlier post (see archive).

Both the Robinson and  Lloyd families were Trappe neighbors to the Chaplains. Charles Lloyd was the son of Trappe physician and farmer Dr. Francis M. Lloyd.

Ross Kelbaugh’s directory dates the Van Wagner & Dyer studio at 468 West Baltimore Street to 1871. That would make Eliza 11 years old at the time of her portrait, but she looks a little younger.

Van Wagner is probably J. M. Van Wagner (b. abt. 1843, NY). Dyer is Walter J. L. Dyer (b. abt. 1843, Md.), who operated at the same studio without Van Wagner in 1872. The 1870 census for Baltimore city lists them in the same household, along with Van Wagner’s wife, Martha, and two children, Celia and Charles Van Wagner. Dyer may have been the son of Towson grocer Walter Dyer (b. abt. 1822, Md.)

Dr. James Stevens Chaplain of Trappe

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Because of its revenue stamp, we can be confident this carte de visite photograph of Dr. James Stevens Chaplain (1827-1908), of Trappe, Talbot County, Md., was taken between 1864 and 1866  in the studio of Edward H. Anderson, Easton, Md..

In Talbot County, the family name of Chaplain, earlier spelled Chapline or Chaplin, goes all the way back to 1660, when Francis Chaplin of Suffolk County, England, arrived and purchased about 7,000 acres in Bolingbroke Hundred.

This photograph was one of several offered at auction recently, including Alexander Chaplain, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1860.

James Chaplain graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1854, returned to Trappe, married Evalina Kemp, daughter of Trappe physician Samuel Kemp, and settled down to practice medicine.

According to one profile, Dr. Chaplain involved himself in the public affairs of Talbot County, serving on the Trappe Board of Town Commissioners, the Trappe Library Association Board of Directors, and as president of the Trappe Savings Bank. He was a Mason and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Edward H. Anderson, in whose studio this photograph was taken, was born about 1832 in Maryland. He learned the jeweller’s and watchmaker’s trade in Baltimore as an apprentice to jeweller Joseph Walter.

Anderson seems to have been something of an inventor as well. He and a James H. Anderson, MD, registered a patent in the 1860s for an improvement in cultivators, and with another collaborator named Hopkins, an improvement in “vapor burners.” It was not uncommon for jewellers and other mechanical craftsmen to engage in photography as a side business.