Pic of the Week (#133) - Gentlemen of The Owen House (1895)

Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.

I love this old cabinet card photograph I purchased from eBay. It has an amazing image said to be from 1895. It also has many notations and identifications written on the back. This would be a great photograph to do some genealogy research on if anyone is interested!

The photograph show several men (about 8) gathered around the porch of a likely storefront or saloon. One particularly portly man in a dark suit holds the reins in a horse drawn carriage. A suspendered man in a white shirt sits next to him. Several other men in the background, both standing and sitting, some mustachioed others clean shaven, stare contemplatively toward the camera.

Who is taking the photo? Were they posing? Why?

Written on the bottom looks like “Foster + Owen”. Are these the men sitting in the carriage? The name of a store? Here is the back of the photograph. I am not sure when the notations were written but it seems possible, likely even, that they were written long after the photograph was taken. These might be the recollections of someone related to one or several of the men in the photo. It also looks like someone tried to darken the original notations buy tracing over them.

It is a little hard to read but this is my best deciphering guess:

Reading from left to right

Mr. Hawkins - Mr. Wood’s father

Gene Grace (?) holding Bruce Owen’s hat

Fred Foster and Bruce Owen

Buggy. Man Standing at corner Butler Server (?)

Next seated Johnny Hiles, Peaking over horse

Mage Pettifone (?), Lyman Sprague tilted

back in chair - Sales manager standing, not

known. Tom (?) Comey (?) seated at right cigar in hand.

Taken in year of 1895 in front of

The Owen House

Hotel (?)

Mr. L.H. Sprague

26445 (?) Road

I am sure I butchered some of the transcription. If you would like a high resolution copy of the photo to do your own transcribing let me know and I will send you a copy. I am sure there is a way to enhance the text to make it more readable.

Rather then research ALL the possibly details I decided to focus on just one: The Owen House.

A newsapers.com search turned up several hundred hits for “Owen House” in the Washington D.C. newspapers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Could the photo above be the of the same place as the one described here (full article here)?

Perhaps it is also the same building as depicted here in this drawing by Alfred R. Waud at the Library of Congress photo, print, and drawing collection.

“Owen House” :   Library of Congress

“Owen House”: Library of Congress

I am not sure why, but one of the subject headings this sketch is filed under is “Lincoln, Abraham,--1809-1865--Assassination”. Perhaps the cabinet card I have has a bit more history to it than I had imagined! Does anyone know what the connection might be?

It does seem like the photo and the sketch could be of the same building, although the photo seems to have added some pillars and a second story balcony. What do you think?

I would love to learn anything I can about the building or the gentleman gathered in front of it.

Can you help?


Related Posts: 1890s