Early Cabinet Cards, Hancock and Adams County, Illinois

Recently, Nick Hyslop, my second cousin, received several boxes of photos from his aunt's adopted daughter and the collection included several new photos of our great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother. He scanned a few of the better ones and emailed me copies, however the photos and scans are of poor quality. Nick lives near my mother and I was headed that way for a visit. We made arrangements to get together so that I could photograph some of the photos with a digital camera in hopes of getting better results. This post and follow-ups will cover this new photo collection.

The photo collection included a couple small photo albums of my great-grandparents, William Marion and Margaret (Scully) Forsyth, several photo albums of their daughter Edna (Forsyth) Hyslop and one or two of Margaret's sister Mary (Scully) Wilson. There were also plenty of loose photographs. In total, I photographed about 300 of the photos.

William Marion and Margaret Forsyth had two surviving children: William Henry Forsythe (my grandfather) and Edna Margaret (Hyslop) Forsyth. My grandfather added the 'e' to the end of his last name while in high school; the reason remains a mystery. My cousin, Mary Sue (Bouschard) Lareau had lent me my grandfather's photo albums to scan several years ago, and there were no photographs of either my great-grandfather or great-great-grandmother included, so it is evident that my great-grandparents' photo albums passed down to their daughter Edna rather than to their son. After Edna's death, the photo albums then passed down to her daughter Gwen (Hyslop) McKay. When Gwen passed away, her adopted daughter Molly McKay took possession of them. Since my great-grandfather died at the age of 33 years, I'll refer to this photo collection as Margaret Forsyth's. The first few posts discussing Margaret Forsyth's photo collection will be highlighting the various that were included. Many of the persons pictured on these cards are unidentified. Several of the cards, however, were labeled and a couple even have dates.

Cabinet cards came into existence in 1866, their popularity peaked in the 1880s and went out of fashion by 1910. Cabinet cards began with very simple designs, but later incorporated stylized front and then back imprinting, embossing, borders, and fancy edges, both beveled and scalloped. Cards can be reliably dated based on the design pattern used. I will be grouping the cards into design patterns first, and by studios and locations second.

The first three cabinet cards I will be discussing have nearly identical designs, and more than likely came from the same studio. All three cards are plain with no marks identifying the studio used. They have rounded edges, and are bordered with a thin inner blue line and a thick outer blue line. The borders are not rounded. The first card is not identified, but is of an elderly woman. The picture on the card does not have straight edges indicating that it is a very early design. The photo is also in much worse shape and has a dark subject on a dark background, which does not normally appear on later cabinet cards. It is also possible that the photo was not taken in a studio as was normal, perhaps because the woman was elderly and could not travel. Another version of this photo where the face of the person is clearer can be found in the book, "Genealogy of the families of Gallemore, Bullen, McAnulty, Pierce, MacFarland and Dunlap, from 87 years B. C. to 1922", by Esther Holt, 1922, on page 112. Holt identifies the person in the photo as Catherine (MacFarland) MacFarland. The photo appears here second. Katherine McFarland was the sister of Arthur McFarland, and Martha Lurinda McFarland's great aunt.

Catherine (McFarland) McFarland, c1867, Adams County, Illinois

The pictures on the second and third card by contrast have clean cut strait edges and have been positively identified as William Henry Forsyth (my great-great grandfather) and Nancy Elizabeth (Forsyth) Worrell, his sister. The photo of Nancy was not part of this collection as it was sent to me earlier by Rachel Ann Sharp. The cabinet card of William was also sent to me earlier by Nick, so may not have originally been part of Margaret Forsyth's photo collection. Both of these cards can be dated to about 1871. William wrote his will on April 29, 1871 and died on May 11 at the age of 26 and a half of tuberculosis. Nancy appears in her photograph wearing a wedding ring. She married James Wilson Worrell on February 25, 1871 at the age of 23, just two and a half months prior to William's death. It is probable that both cards were printed at the time of her wedding, that being a notable occasion. At that time, the family lived in Chili Township, Hancock County, Illinois.

Nancy (Forsyth) Worrell, abt 1871, Illinois, Alpha Forsyth's daughter.  She is wearing a wedding ring, so was probably taken soon after her marriage (provided by Nick Hyslop)
Nancy (Forsyth) Worrell, abt 1871
William Henry Forsyth, abt 1867, Illinois, back of picture reads 'Wm Forsyth Grand Dad (Martha's hubby)' (provided by Nick Hyslop), Linked To: <a href='/greybeard/profiles/i33' >William Henry Forsyth</a>
William Henry Forsyth, abt 1867

The next cabinet card is similar to the previous three with the exception that both border lines are thin and dark gray in color. The photo is labeled "Rebecca Ann | Willard Crum | Eliza's Mother". Rebecca Ann Willard is the daughter of John and Rebecca (McFarland) Willard and was born in Adams County, Illinois in 1840 and died there in 1911. She married Theodore Crum in 1865 and their daughter Eliza was born in 1873. She was the grand-daughter of the Rebecca McFarland who died in 1867 mentioned above, being also Martha Lurinda (McFarland) Forsyth's aunt. The photo's edges are also not completely strait.

Rebecca Ann (Willard) Crum, abt 1870, Adams County, Illinois, photo is labelled on back
Rebecca Ann (Willard) Crum, abt 1870

The next cabinet card has no border or front imprinting, but it does have backside imprinting that says, "J. V. Hoover, | Photographer, | Carthage, Ill." Carthage is located in Adams County, Illinois, just north of Chili, where William Henry Forsyth was living in 1870. There is no way to know for sure, but it is possible that this is a baby picture of one of his children, and since the photo is found in Margaret Forsyth's photo collection, I assume that this a photo of William Marion Forsyth who was born in 1871. You will notice that someone, has colored in the child's eyes with a pen. Similarly, in the next installment of this series you will find a photo of William Marion Forsyth taken in about 1890 where his hair has been colored in with a pen also.

probably William Marion Forsyth, c1871

The next three cabinet cards are also McFarlands. The first of these is interesting. It is a photo of William Madison McFarland (my great-great-great grandfather), Rebecca Ann (Willard) Crum's brother, and the father of Martha Lurinda (McFarland) Forsyth. The interesting bit is that years ago, Brenda Bennett sent me the same exact photo, but it is facing the other direction and is probably not a cabinet card because the photo had at some point developed a partial crease. The cabinet card has a slightly improved design over the previous cards. It has a single thin red border which is rounded and includes the studio name, "Mrs. W. A. Reed, Artist, Quincy, Ill." The artist, Candace McCormick married Warren Reed, and in 1848 they opened a studio in Quincy, Illinois. When her husband died in 1858, she took it over. She was known to have been one of the best photo artists in the area. She died in 1900. William Madison McFarland died in 1896 at the age of 82 years. Due to the simplicity of the design, this photo must have been taken in the early to mid 1870s.

William Madison McFarland, abt 1875, Illinois (provided by Nick Hyslop), Linked To: <a href='/greybeard/profiles/i61' >William Madison McFarland</a>
William Madison McFarland, abt 1875

The second card from this group has an identical design as the first, but is not labeled on the back. A copy received years earlier from Roseann (Hyslop) Szidon, Gwen's sister, had been identified as "Nate C. McFarland" a grandson of Joseph Hamilton McFarland. This is not possible as Nate was not born until 1887 and this photo was taken in the 1870s. Might it be a photo of Joseph Hamilton McFarland, the slightly younger brother of William Madison McFarland, who died in 1892? It doesn't much look like William Madison McFarland. Another version of this photo, provided by Mary McCormick, not as a cabinet card, but as a cabinet photo, has "Nate McFarland" hand written along bottom in pencil. According to Mary, it was from a photo album from the McFarlands in Camp Point, Adams County, Illinois, which is also where William Madison McFarland and Joseph Hamilton McFarland lived. I have not yet found anyone else living in the 1870s by the name of Nate McFarland, so it might my photo dating process is kaput.

maybe Nate McFarland, abt 1875, Quincy, Adams, Illinois, photo is not labelled (provided by Nick Hyslop)
maybe Nate McFarland, abt 1875

The next cabinet card came from Roseann Szidon who is a granddaughter of this collection's namesake, Margaret (Scully) Forsyth, so the photo was probably at one point part of it, though she may have received it from another researcher. The photo is labeled "Unclde Dan McFarland", so is probably Daniel Green McFarland, the little brother of William Madison McFarland. Dan McFarland died on June 27, 1905 at the age of 71. The photo probably dated from around that time.

Daniel Green McFarland, abt 1905, Camp Point, Illinois, the photo labeled 'Uncle Dan McFarland', but not dated
Daniel Green McFarland, abt 1905

In the last cabinet card from this installment, we find a photograph of Joel Madison Forsyth taken at the "Rood Elite Photo Gallery" in Quincy, Illinois. The photo uses a dark green colored card stock indicating that it is a later photograph. This photo could feasibly date from anywhere to between 1900 and 1910, but his mother moved to Quincy about 1903, so it was probably taken after that date during a visit.

Joel Madison Forsyth, abt 1910, Quincy, Adams, Illinois, This is the elder brother of William Marion Forsyth
Joel Madison Forsyth, abt 1910

In the next installment, we will move onto more elaborate cabinet cards.