Here is a CDV of a Union solider from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, my hometown. I found it on an excursion up to Gettysburg this weekend. Judging from his overall appearance of health and cleanliness, this was probably taken at the beginning of the war when he enlisted. When I saw the image in the display case, I felt a need to acquire it just because it was from Chambersburg. After doing a little collecting, I’m getting the impression that there was only one, or perhaps two photo studios in Chambersburg for most of the 19th century, as this H. Bishop seems to be the most frequent studio back mark by far. I’m starting a records search to try and identify the young man, as there weren’t THAT many sergeants in the units from the Chambersburg area. I’m thinking a trip to the Kittochtinny Historical Society offices is in order when the weather is warmer and they’re back to full hours (I think they close up for the most part in the wintertime as their archives are in the Old Jail and are not heated). The Old Jail, by the way, is well worth a visit if you’re ever passing through Chambersburg – the main part of the jail is a Georgian structure dating to at least 1818, and was in use as a prison at least into the 1960s, when one of my father’s partners in his medical practice would take calls to see patients being held there.
Two more from Gettysburg itself, and three more from the Catoctin Furnace.
The rail depot is now a little museum, with exhibits relating to Lincoln’s visit.
The iron master of Catoctin Furnace was responsible for all the finished product coming out of the factory. His house was quite large. Today it stands in ruins. The ‘root cellar’ image is my assumption of what the space might have been – it is not labeled on the site. I’m guessing at its function by the proximity to the house (it would have been immediately behind the house, near the kitchen). The other possibility is that it is the spring/well for the house. Since I lacked a flashlight, I did not go in to try and find out what was in there.
Here are some of MY photos from my Gettysburg excursion, not just the antique images I bought.
I had just taken this photo and was walking back toward the main square (aka “the diamond” in local parlance – that’s a whole other story) when I ran into someone who recognized my camera as a Rolleiflex, and who had one (actually several) himself. I explained to him that servicing them to get them back into good working order was not actually that expensive, and that he could still easily get film for them. I think (I hope, anyway) I inspired him to get his Rolleis out of the closet and put them back into service.
The “diamond” story:
I grew up just down the road from Gettysburg, in another southern Pennsylvania town storied in Civil War lore: Chambersburg. Like Gettysburg, it has a central town square, where the courthouse, a church, and a couple of banks are located. We always called it “the square”. Then, a couple of years ago, I went on a Civil War themed bus tour led by Ed Bearss, the historian and talking head (Ken Burns’ The Civil War and History Channel’s Civil War Diaries, among others). We were covering JEB Stuart’s raid on Chambersburg. When we arrived in downtown, he explained that the proper term for a town’s main square in that part of Pennsylvania was (and allegedly still is) “the diamond”. The squares are square, per se, formed at the intersection of two roads, which enter the square from the middle of each side, but in a gesture to ease of parking (originally buggies and horses, now cars), inside the square, the corners have been cut off, making a diamond-esque space in the middle. Thus the diamond. But I had never heard it referred to as “the diamond” in the first 39 years of my life until I heard Ed tell that story.
This is one of those places you see in so many small towns – the local dive bar, or “bar of shame” as I like to think of them. No windows that you can see in, which I suppose gives patrons an illusion of privacy. The ironic thing is that A: this bar is on the main street, just a block or so off the main square, and B: it’s a small town, so everybody knows everybody. If you enter this bar, the whole world is going to know about it.
The Emmittsburg Road, at evening time. I took this picture because it epitomizes Gettysburg, the battlefield, to me as much as any monument or marker or green bronze cannon. This is the gently rolling countryside where over three days in July, 1863, almost 50,000 men gave their lives.
Not actually in Gettysburg, but on the way home, is the Catoctin Furnace. This was an early ironworks, in operation from the late 1700s. Catoctin Furnace supplied the Continental army during the American Revolution, and the Union army during the Civil War. They would stack layers of charcoal, limestone and iron ore needed to produce finished iron into the furnace and let it burn, adding additional layers until enough molten iron was produced. Then a clay valve in the bottom of the stack would be opened and the molten iron bled off into sand-filled channels in the ground where it would form into pig iron bars. I’ve seen two explanations for the name, pig iron: one variation has it because of the shape of the bars after pouring, the other because of the sound the molten iron made as it ran into the molds.
All photos were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, using Kodak Ektar 100.
It’s been a while since I added anything here, because I’ve been insanely busy dealing with a whole bunch of personal business (breaking up, evicting my ex, cleaning up the aftermath, starting dating again, reconfiguring my office, building a new home wireless network since the ex took the wireless router, getting nasty bronchitis, recovering from said bronchitis, etc etc you know…). I haven’t had a lot of time for collecting or thinking about it as a result. Well, the dust has settled and I’ve been casually acquiring an odd and end here and there, so I’m back to writing about it again.
One of the things that has interested me, and helped drive me into this whole civil war period image collecting thing, is my hometown – Chambersburg, PA. Chambersburg was perhaps the most trampled ground north of the Mason Dixon line during the Civil War. Prior to the war, John Brown planned his raid on Harpers’ Ferry while living there, and met with Frederick Douglass to discuss the plans (Douglass advised against attacking the federal arsenal). Jeb Stuart’s cavalry raided it for the first time in 1862. Then Lee’s troops passed through on their way to Gettysburg in ’63, and in 1864 General McCausland’s troops demanded a ransom of $500,000 in US currency or $100,000 in gold, which the town refused to pay, so it was put to the torch.
In digging around on Ebay, I found an image of a man who was born a few towns over from Chambersburg. That got me thinking about the old hometown, and I started searching for Chambersburg related stuff. I acquired a group of photos spanning a good 20+ years of work from a single studio, which in further searching on Ebay seems to have been the most prominent if not the only studio in town at the time.
Here is the image that got me thinking about Chambersburg, a photo of David Eiker, born in Quincy, Pennsylvania. Quincy is a tiny one-stoplight town a few miles east of Chambersburg. This photo was taken at the J. Goldin studio in Washington DC.
Acquired at the same time was a more-or-less unrelated photo of a Mr. R.K. Hopkinson, taken at the Henry Ulke & Bro. studio in Washington DC. The common thread was the Washington, DC studio. Mr. R.K. Hopkinson Served in Company D of the 3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery during the civil war.