Mrs. Ida Mathis Johnson of Cumberland, Maryland

This portrait of Ida Mathis Johnson, wife of  Cumberland, Md. physician Dr. James Thomas Johnson (see previous post) was taken at a Towles Studio. Brothers Clarence O. and William H. Towles owned two studios, one in Frostburg and one in Cumberland, ca. 1899-1901; they both had moved to Washington, DC ca. 1910.

According to a 1923 biographical sketch of Dr. James T. Johnson, the couple married in 1896. While the sketch gives her home at the time as Philadelphia, census and passport records indicate Ida, or “Lidie,” Mathis, was born 24 August 1872 in Tuckerton, Burlington County, New Jersey, to farmer Shreve B. Mathis and Elizabeth King Mathis.

Before her marriage, Ida Mathis was superintendent of Western Maryland Hospital, an impressive job for a woman in 1895 (Directory of Cumberland and Allegany County 1895-1896). Her work explains how she must have met her future husband. Mathis graduated from the nursing school at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, in 1891 (American Journal of Nursing, v. 10, 1910)at the time, one of the most highly respected nurse training centers in the country.

The Mathis family history is well-documented by Joyce Kintzel. The family traced its descent from Welsh immigrant John Mathews and Quaker Alice Andrews. Based in Bass River, “Great” John Mathis became one of the dominant landowners and businessmen in southern new Jersey, believed to have owned about 5,000 acres there by the American Revolution. The Mathis family burial ground in Chestnut Neck, New Jersey, as well as Greenwood Cemetery and the Friends burial ground, hold the remains of  family members.

Ida’s distinctive hairstyle helps date her portrait. According to Joan Severa’s Dressed for the Photographer, This top-knot style was fashionable for a short time ca. 1896. The sleeve style also aids in dating: A sleeve with unsupported shoulder puff atop a tight lower arm followed the “collapse” of the exaggerated, broad leg o’mutton sleeve of the mid 90s. I’m going to take a stab at a guess of ca. 1896-1898 for a portrait date.

She holds the tip of her feather or fur boa in her left hand, perhaps to bring attention to an engagement ring.

Dr. James Thomas Johnson of Cumberland, Maryland

An unidentified photographer took this ca. 1900 portrait of Dr. James Thomas Johnson, Sr. (1869-1938).

According to a fawning 1923 biographical sketch in Distinguished Citizens of Allegany County, Johnson was born in Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama to farmer Thomas Johnson (b. abt. 1812, North Carolina).

After attending the State Normal School in Florence, young Johnson studied medicine at New York University for two years, then continued at the University of Maryland. Johnson graduated from that institution in 1892, did a year of post-graduate work there, and practiced in Baltimore until 1894, when he came to Cumberland and opened up a practice.

A news item says he was named chief physician at Western Maryland Hospital there in 1893, but neither his biography nor his brief obituary mention this.

He married a Miss Ida Mathis in 1896, and they had three children: James Thomas Johnson Jr., Elizabeth Olga Johnson, and William R. Johnson.

By 1920, Johnson was prosperous enough to live in a large house on Washington Street, probably in what is now the Washington Street Historic District, near Prospect Square, and to employ three servants. Johnson sent all three of his children to college, including Elizabeth, who attended Goucher College in Baltimore.

Elizabeth traveled to Europe in 1923, and listed her address as 24 Washington Street, Cumberland, near Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Other documents give their address as 31 Washington Street. Whatever the number, this area near Prospect Square was one of the best neighborhoods in Cumberland.

Johnson may have become prosperous not just through his medical and surgical practice. In 1903, he entered into a partnership with the new owner of the Wills Mountain Inn. They turned the old inn  into the Wills Mountain Sanatorium–a posh convalescent home. The structure burned down in 1930.

Captain John Bond Winslow of Cumberland

John Bond Winslow (b. abt. 1839, New Jersey) perches, to ludicrous effect, on a “pile” of ca. 1870s faux rocks in the Cumberland, Maryland photographic studio of F. G. Wilhelmi.

The incongruous sylvan staging of this very serious, no-nonsense man demonstrates the decade’s mania for props that simulated the outdoors.

According to Winslow Memorial: Family records of the Winslows and their descendants, Capt. Winslow was the son of Margaret-Emily Sergeant of Morristown, New Jersey, and Vermont merchant John Winslow (1802-1839), who died at sea about the time of  John Bond Winslow’s birth.

John B. Winslow’s grandfather, farmer John Winslow (1767-1852) helped to settle the town of Williston, Vermont and was a deacon of the Congregational Church for over four decades. According to the family history, the Winslows were among the first settlers of Plymouth Massachusetts, and counted Plymouth Colony Governor Edward Winslow among their ancestors.

Emily took her son to live with the boy’s uncle George T. Cobb, in New York and later in Morristown. John B. entered the banking business in Morristown, where he remained until the war.

He served in the Quartermaster’s Corps of the Union Volunteers during the Civil War, and mustered out in 1866 with the rank of captain.

In 1870, he was working as the Hampshire and Baltimore Coal Company’s shipping agent in Cumberland.

According to an 1866 report, the company owned two productive tracts, one in Piedmont, West Virginia, and one 12 miles from Piedmont, at George’s Creek.

The coal was transported by train, and either proceeded by train to Baltimore harbor, or was transferred to a fleet of company-owned C & O Canal boats at Cumberland  (one boat was named the “Capt. J. B. Winslow”), and thence to the north via the inland water route.

Winslow married around 1872, but his young wife, Susan Mary Troxell, died in 1879 at the age of 27. She left him with a small son, Herbert Markley Winslow, who was born about 1873.

According to the Baltimore SUN, Winslow’s life did not end well:

“Information was received here today of the death, in Spring Grove Asylum yesterday, of Capt. J. B. Winslow, formerly of Cumberland, who was taken to the institution a year ago.  The deceased was well known here, having been at one time shipping agent of the Hampshire and Baltimore Coal Company” (5 May 1887).

According to a May 1928 Cumberland Evening Times survey of veterans buried in the vicinity, Winslow is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, Cumberland.

Graduates of the Western Maryland Hospital Nurses’ Training School, 1911

It’s battered, worn, chipped and torn, but someone once cared enough for this photograph to identify each of these young 1911 graduates of Western Maryland Hospital’s Nurses’ Training School:

Front row (seated), left to right: Carrie Drucilla Wagner, Ada Brotemarkle, Mary McNeill Williams

Standing, left to right: Margaret E. Conroy, Mary Ward Stevenson

The Baltimore Sun printed a small announcement of the event:

Cumberland, Md., May 18–The graduating exercises of the nurses’ training school of the Western Maryland Hospital will take place at Emmanuel Parish House, Monday evening, May 22. The graduates will be Misses Mary McNeill Williams, Moorefield, W. Va.; Carrie Drucilla Wagner, Hyndman, Pa.; Ada Brotemarkle, near Cumberland; Miss Mary Ward Stevenson, Keyser, W. Va., and Miss Margaret Conroy, Mount Savage, Md.

I have only been able to trace a few fragments of their lives.

Carrie Drucilla Wagner (Carrie was short for Catherine, not Caroline), born April 1890, was the daughter of Hyndman, Pa. coal miner and grocer John H. Wagner and his wife Amanda.

Ada Brotemarkle came from an old Bedford County family.  Her great-great-grandfather, Friedrich Christoph Brodmerkel, was born in Germany in 1745 and died in Cumberland County, Md. in 1823. Ada was the daughter of Bedford County farmers Milton Brotemarkle (1854-1916) and Mary Eliza Anderson Brotemarkle (1851-1907). They are buried in in the cemetery attached to Centenary United Methodist Church, in Alleghany County, Md.

Ada married North Carolinian John Henry Johnson in 1918. They lived first Edgecombe County, North Carolina, where their two children were born: Nellie Johnson (abt. 1922) and David Milton Johnson (b.24 July 1923). In 1930, they had returned to Alleghany County, Md., where they lived in in Wills Creek. John was working as a quarry laborer.

Mary McNeill Williams (b. Apr 1885, Hardy Co., W. Va.) was the daughter of farmer Edward Williams (1831-1902) and Anna Elizabeth Van Meter Williams (1853-1929); both her parents are buried in Olivet Cemetery, Moorefield, Hardy Co., W. Va. In 1930, Mary was living at home with her parents in Moorefield, and working as a private nurse. Her father may have served with the Confederate army during the Civil War.

Margaret E. Conroy (b. Sep 1876) of Mount Savage, Allegheny Co. Md., may have been daughter of Irish immigrant miner Timothy Conroy (b. Feb 1828). In 1920 Margaret worked as nurse in Frostburg, Maryland’s hospital.

The building on Baltimore Avenue these women trained in was dedicated in 1892. It seems likely this photograph was taken on the hospital’s grounds.

Thanks to Jill Craig of the Western Maryland Regional Library for pointing out that Maryland’s county is spelled “Allegany,” not “Allegheny.” The WMRL has agreed to accept the original of this photograph into its photographic collection.

Thanks to Dave Tabler of the cool site ApplachianHistory.net for his help and interest in this photograph.