Monday, September 10, 2012

Photos from the Centennial Box

The major treasure in that Centennial Box I wrote about the other day were five stereoscope cards containing images of Chariton's July 4, 1876, centennial celebration on the square. Designed to be looked at through a dual-lense viewer that creates an illusion of depth, two small identical copies of the same images were pasted side by side on what sometimes are called stereographs.

Although it's likely larger copies of the photographs were printed and perhaps sold, none are known to have survived. So these are unique. Although small, the quality of the images is extraordinary because the detail captured on large glass plates by cameras of that era was extraordinary, too.

My favorite, I think, is the image above of the centennial parade passing along the west side of the square. The weakness of those old cameras is evident here, too. Because shutter speeds were slow, the cameras did a dandy job of recording likenesses of anything --- like buildings and people prentending to be statues --- that didn't move. Anything in motion was another matter. That's why our ancestors look grim in vintage photographs. They were trying to remain perfectly still and overcome any urge to giggle.

Only two of the buildings in this photo still are standing: the three-story Manning & Penick Building in the center (its facade by now has lost all of its detail and has been painted) and two doors to its left, the two-story building with arched-topped windows we know as Stanton or Johansen. This building's brick facade was replaced in 1915 by the stone Richardson Romanesque front we're familiar with. The three-story building at the north end of the block is the Mallory Opera Block, which burned during January of 1904.

This is the north side of the square viewed from a rooftop at the southwest corner of the square. Those blurs in the foreground are U.S. flags blowing in the wind. The only building here that lasted any length of time is the brick structure in the center (behind the towering flag pole). This was the Mallory Block, located on lots now occupied by the U.S.Bank building. Note that streets were mud and that this parade seems to have been rained upon --- that's light reflecting off water on the right.

Also shot from the southwest corner of the square, this photo shows the west side of the 1858 courthouse as well as those spectators who had picked the relatively high and dry grass of the fenced courhouse lawn as a vantage point.

Here's the Chariton Cornet Band rounding the southwest corner of the square behind a four-horse hitch. Since band regalia included identifying horse blankets, we know its members must have traveled in this manner often. But I'm wondering if they wouldn't have been marching had the streets not been so muddy.

And finally, here's the Russell Cornet Band lined up near the courthouse either before or after the parade. I'm sure they were justifiably proud of their uniforms --- pretty dashing.

Now, try to figure out if your ancestors were somewhere in the crowd (or the parade) when these photos were taken 136 years ago. This was not an event that anyone in Lucas County would have wanted to miss.

No accounts of this July 4th celebration survived in bound volumes of early Chariton newspapers --- but! I just remembered that there was a copy of a centennial newspaper in the Centennial Box and I really haven't looked at it carefully. I'm going to do that today.

1 comment:

Charles M. Wright said...

Frank, I'm comparing the 1876 photo of the Russell Cornet Band to a photo of the band taken in 1888. Both apparently had eleven members but it is doubtful more than a few were in both bands. The original of the 1888 photo was owned by the late Mrs. Chester Shirer (Cora Dixon Shirer). At one time she loaned it to the Russell Union-Tribune newspaper for print. I reprinted it in my 1967 Russell Centennial book. While the uniform jackets in both photos appear to be the same or similar, the hats certainly weren't. Also the instruments in the two photos are not the same. The lettering on the bass drum suggests either the drum is different or the lettering "Russell Cornet Band" had been changed. While there are no names given for the personnel in the 1876 photo, those in the 1888 photo were identified as: J. H. Shirer, Charles Shirer, J. Werts, Hol Hatcher, Percy Zimmer, Philip A. Rockey, Charles Rowland, Frank H. DeLano, Gaston Spillman Boyd, Homer A. Shirer and Bill Argo. Thanks for sharing these wonderful 1876 photos with your readers.