As part of my efforts of expanding knowledge and outreach, I search antique stores, auctions, and yard sales for items with stories to tell. These are but some of the stories I have come across in my travels.
Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920), wife of Napoleon III, the last empress of France. Date unknown. How this autographed (?) albumen print ended up being passed through six generations of my family is unknown, but it is suspected it may have been presented to an ancestor well-known in his time as a French teacher/translator and socialite. Apparently this photograph is part of a series of portrait photographs taken of the Empress that have found their way into the Life Magazine photo archives, though this particular photograph is a notable exception.
John Henry Jaquett was the son of Peter and Ann (24 May 1795-10 January 1888, and was born on 25 July 1824. He married Elizabeth Miller (7 March 1827-1887) in 1850 and settled near Cupola, in Honey Brook Township. Jaquett was the grandson of Nicholas Jaquett and grand-nephew of Peter Jaquett, who served in the Revolutionary War. He was one of eight children, including sister Eliza P., and brothers Thomas, William N., Samuel, Edward, and Issac. Isaac, sadly, would be murdered by a Catholic priest Blasius Pastorius in Norristown in 1875.
A miller before the war, he enlisted on December 16, 1861, in the 99th Pennsylvania Infantry, Co. G, which recruited in Philadelphia and Lancaster County. Together with the rest of his regiment, he served in the battles of Roanoke, Seven Pines, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Bull Run, Wilderness, Gettysburg, and others. During the war, his wife, and three children, viz. Emily Elanora (b. 19 January 1852), Elmer Price (b. 8 April 1855), and Mary Anna (4 May 1860-10 October 1888), were on Relief.
Though his initial enlistment ended at the end of 1863, his reenlistment in 1864 was rewarded with a furlough home, ending on 30 March. As a result of this furlough, a daughter, Cora Therease (d. 22 Sept. 1905), was born on 16 December 1864.
He served out the remainder of the war, miraculously unscathed, with his regiment, and mustered out in August of 1865. He returned to Honey Brook, and after the death of his mother, daughter, and wife in the period of a year, he removed to his son Elmer’s house near Embreeville.
John H. Jaquett died on 1 February 1906 and after services at Honey Brook Methodist Episcopal Church, was interred in Cambridge, Lancaster County.
Albumen print cabinet card by Thomas W. Taylor of West Chester. Of interest is the fact that the photograph has been retouched not only to hide some of Jaquett’s graying hair, but also to add wrinkles underneath his left eye — something of a dichotomy!
His grave can be seen at Findagrave, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSsr=161&am…;
Ella Sharpless Melton, 1899. Ellen Sharpless Melton was born on January 31, 1885, to Joseph T. and Eliza Melton. Joseph was a restauranteur and landlord, and was one of the founding members of the Star Social Club, the oldest black-chartered organization in Pennsylvania. In 1899, when this photo was taken, Ella was living with her parents and brother Andrew at 131 West Market Street.
In 1903, she married Elwood Spriggs, son of William and Ida Spriggs, and the couple moved to Germantown, in Philadelphia, where E;wppd tried his hand as a professional baseball player with the Philadelphia Giants. Whatever situation they encountered there, they apparently were not successful, as they later returned to West Chester to live with Ella’s parents at 17 S. Franklin Street.
By 1921, Ella was working in the kitchen of the Overtown Restaurant, which was located on the top floor of the Farmers and Mechanics building at the corner of High and Market Street. On December 21st of that year, Ella died suddenly in her sleep at her home, 245 South Matlack Street, leaving behind her husband and two children, Andrew and Gertrude. She was interred at Chestnut Grove cemetery.
Elwood remarried two years later, spending the rest of his life in West Chester until his death in 1951.
Joseph Melton survived his daughter. With his savings from his restaurant, he purchased a farm south of the borough in West Goshen township, near the borough’s sewage plant, which he would later take charge of for several years. He died at his farm in 1929.
The photographer, Havard G. Barrett, was quite the character. He opened his Penny Photograph gallery above the store of Thomas C. Hogue, at the southeast corner of High and Gay Streets, in February 1899. He apparently did not prosper in the venture, and abandoned (quite literally) the establishment after a period of only 5 months. Barrett skipped town in July of that year.
Barrett later returned to West Chester after a period of hiding to open a salesroom for the Cunningham Piano Company at 12 S. Church Street. This venture lasted approximately 6 months, when he was jailed for repeatedly embezzling money from the Philadelphia-based firm. He apparently never returned to West Chester after this last disgrace.
Marine Corps Parade, Gay and Walnut Streets, 11 June 1915, West Chester, PA. A view of a portion of the 45-block-long parade rounding the corner of No. Walnut onto E. Gay Street following the dedication of “Old Glory” at the Chester County Courthouse on June 11, 1915. View looking southeast from the second-story porch of the Eagle Hotel.
Photograph now in the collection of the Chester County Historical Society.