NEW BEDFORD – An old and very old photo album with its tattered brown leather cover sat on a table in a Sandwich flea market in September, unaware that its future owner was only a few feet away in looking at him curiously.
âI noticed the album from a distance on a table,â said Kimberli Faulkner-Hull. âThe seller said it was a large family photo album. Flipping through the album quickly, I doubted its assessment, as the photos were of people of the same age.
The seller wanted $ 40 for it.
Hull offered $ 30 and walked away with a treasure of an album containing 47 1890 photographs of the people of New Bedford.
But who were they?
One was the son of a doctor who had been convicted and served for performing an abortion in 1897, then ran for mayor of New Bedford in 1904.
Two brothers were the sons of Frederick Slocum, a whaler who died in 1885.
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Another was the granddaughter of Edmund Anthony, founder of the New Bedford Standard.
At first, Hull thought the album was the collection of one photographer, but she quickly dismissed it when she noticed that the photos had been taken by multiple photographers.
Then she noticed something else.
âSeven of the cabinet cards were dated 1890 on the reverse side: Alice Gertrude Anthony, Charles Prescott Emerson, Cyrus Chapman Howland, Hattie N. Hyatt, Sadie Lowe, James Stowe Macomber, Anna C. Ricketson,â she said. And they all seemed to be the same age.
The search begins
“I looked for the graduating class of 1890,” she said of a school board annual report with the superintendent’s annual report of 1890. She also found the “Class of” newspaper article. ’90 ‘, from The Evening Standard.
Hull said she was not sure where the seller of the photo album got it and assumed it was bought at a real estate sale or auction because ” he knew so little about it “.
A number of individual photos were taken at Headley & Reed, a photo studio formerly located at 5 Purchase Street. James E. Reed (1864-1939) was a prominent African American photographer from New Bedford who teamed up with Phineas C. Headley who was white. Reed is known to have taken numerous photographs of the people of New Bedford, including abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
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âFrom there, I wanted to create a profile for each person,â she said and turned to standard genealogy records – birth, marriage, census and death records to get the facts. .
She then searched for obituaries, newspaper articles, city directories and small local publications to complete the profile and reveal the person behind the image.
âImagine the distress Dora DeWolf felt in 1907 when she lost her medallion and the pride Gertie Tripp Dean felt when she was appointed clerk in the office of the registrar of electors in 1920,â Hull said in putting on personalities on the names.
She said the small newspapers and The Evening Standard’s subject page were “the turn-of-the-century equivalent of social media.”
Hull recounts his comprehensive research with more photos from the album on his Cool Adventures website.
When asked who she found most interesting about the album, it was difficult to identify a single one.
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âAs a group, it was fascinating to see how many didn’t have kids and how many women went to college and had careers – it looked more like 1990 than 1890,â she said. declared.
She discovered that Anna Collins Ricketson was a film critic for the New Bedford Mercury and the Standard-Times for 30 years.
Hull learned that Dr George Everett Noble was the son of Dr EH Noble. Her father was convicted and served time for performing an abortion in 1897, then ran for mayor of New Bedford in 1904.
She discovered that Alice Gertrude Anthony was the granddaughter of Edmund Anthony, founder of the New Bedford Standard. She was a musician and was admitted to the local musicians’ union in 1906 for a week so that she could perform in the Pirates of Penzance on condition that her membership only lasted a week.
Then there was May Eleventh Stetson who was born on May 11th.
âI bet his parents had a great sense of humor,â Hull assumed.
An interest in genealogy
âI have been interested in genealogy for decades and have a certificate in genealogical research from Boston University,â Hull said. âI started researching new items that I would add to my ephemeral collection a few years ago. I’m buying faster than I’m researching, so I’ll never get them all.
About three years ago, Hull said someone contacted her about Civil War discharge documents that belonged to a cousin Faulkner. The person had bought the papers at an auction and was able to find Hull and send him the papers.
âI have since donated it to others and returned several photos and photo collections to families,â she said. âIt’s a strange but satisfying hobby. ”
Of the 47 photos on the album, Hull still had five unnamed photos she’s trying to find.
The Standard-Times was able to step in, thanks to Jay Avila of Spinner Publications, and identify one of the five. Ray Greene Huling was principal of New Bedford High School in 1890.
There are four more – three men and a woman who are still unnamed.
Hull was born in Kansas and was Director of Marketing until 2007 when she started a consulting firm. Her husband of 42 years joined her and they converted the company into a sports photography business specializing in professional cycling and World Cup skiing.
âAfter the Tour de France 2015, we focused on travel and events, working with tourist offices and large special event groups across the country and the world,â she said. âFrom 2011 to 2015 we spent over 100 days a year on the road, and from 2016 to 2018 we lived on the road full time as digital nomads, moving to a new country every month or two. We have visited over 50 countries and lived in eight.
They finally settled down and recently bought a house in Mashpee.
Hull said she had no plans to spit out the album and believed it would have more historical significance in its entirety.
âI plan to donate my entire collection of ephemera to an institution at some point in the future,â she said.
This story is part of Standard-Times’ ongoing Curious SouthCoast series. If there is something that interests you, send an email to [email protected] and we will review it.