Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Workday Wednesday - Photographers - Unknown Mt. Vernon, IL Girl 1886

I have been sadly missing from this blog for sometime now, but life just seems to get in the way - there are only so many hours in the day and days in the week!  I recently posted this cabinet card from 1886 on my other blog, ForgottenFacesandLongAgoPlaces, of an unknown young woman who had her picture taken by well-known Mt. Vernon photographer James Hitchcock.  Although this girl is most likely no relation to me I decided to re-post to this blog.  Who knows, perhaps someone will recognize her and we can solve the mystery of her identity!

When I saw this cabinet card come up for sale on eBay, I knew I had to have it. This beautiful young woman with the winsome look on her face had her photo taken by Mr. & Mrs. Jas. Hitchcock of Mt. Vernon, Ills, my hometown. I am fascinated with the photography of Major James Hitchcock who lived and worked in Jefferson County, Il from about 1870 until his death in 1916. I have collected a few of his photographs, but this is by far my favorite to date.

When I received this photo in the mail I was excited to see that there was handwriting on the back and thought that the subject was identified. Upon closer examination, sadly it appears that the words say, "got home from Bonnie (or Rome) this AM Aug 30th 1886." Such a disappointment, but at least it helps to date the photograph.

Major James Hitchcock was a well-known Mt. Vernon citizen, coming to the city in 1870 from Indiana after the Civil War. He was born in Gibson County, Indiana in December 1843 to John William and Margaret (Brasher) Hitchcock. In 1862 he enlisted in the 71st Indiana Infantry, Company E, and transferred to the 6th Indiana Cavalry in February 1863. In 1864 in a disastrous attempt to release prisoners held at the notorious Andersonville, GA prisoner of war camp, he and 2,000 others were captured by Confederate troops and was himself held as a P.O.W. for nine months. He was taken from Andersonville to "somewhere in Florida" along with other prisoners where they were able to make their escape along the way.

In May of 1868 in Richland County, IL he married Annie E. Gardner and by 1870 they were living in Jefferson County, IL with a one year old daughter Barbara (Ruby). A son Ray was born in 1873 and a daughter Ethel in 1879. For many years he and his wife operated an extremely successful photography studio at 219 South Tenth Street in Mt. Vernon, IL (Jefferson County). He was well respected for his craft and his photos documented most of the history of Jefferson County and the surrounding areas between 1870 - 1910. His wife died in 1912 and Hitchcock was reported to be grief-stricken. He died four years later on 2 Jan 1916 and he and his family are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Mt. Vernon.
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