Only in York County

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More on York’s former photo studios

Back in March, we’d talked about some of York’s photography studios of the past.

I’m glad my friends Tracey and Dianne brought up this topic, because many people had their own memories to share – and a LOT of questions, both about the studios and the people in their photos.

These photos, from the family collection of Elaine (Thoman) Miller, show images from, at left, Kauffman photo studio, 12 W. Market St., York, and at right, Simon Studio, 326 S. Duke St. York.

Lola Buchmyer writes, “I too have come to love Pennsylvania thru my husband’s family who grew up there in Seven Valleys area. I do a lot of geneaology from that area on his family dating back to 1850, I recently came across photos done by W.C. Bell studios and they are beautiful and I wish I could locate more photos of the family thru this studio. Do you know if this is possible? I think Pennsylvania is a beautiful place to be and look forwards to more on the Pennsylvania generations.”

Lola, I’m not sure there are any successors to the Bell studios still around; if any readers know otherwise, please let us know!

Then, commenter Unni writes, “I came across two photos of an African-American entertainer named Harry C. or G. Williams who entertained in York as a comedian and vocalist with a little Dachshund. The photos were taken by Shadle & Busser around the turn of the century. If anyone has any info about this person I’d really appreciate hearing about it.”

Unni, I don’t know, but I will ask my husband; he is something of a research expert and has tracked down even stranger things than entertainers and dachshunds from old photos.

In fact, he already tracked down some photo-studio info for us. He says, “According to the South Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, in a February 1998 article, Shadle & Busser was located at the following addresses: 20 South George Street, 1887-1902; 44 South George Street, 1903-1925; 58 South Beaver Street, 1925 -1936.”

Bet that was fun, to move every 20 years or so?

Reader Shirley writes, “I have an old photo from W.C. Bell – 6 W. Market St. York PA. Martha Jacobs in the photo – anyone related to her??”

Again, if anyone has any info on Martha Jacobs for Shirley, please do let me know.

Joseph Coulson writes and says he has several pictures from about this era marked with York and Stewartstown, and one marked “Evans & Prince, York.”

Melanie P. says, “I’ve just come across a couple of old photos from different York studios. One is a small shot of my great-grandfather, taken at Bell’s at 6 W Market Street, and the other is my mother’s senior picture, taken by Blatner studio in the early 1950’s. That one doesn’t have a street address on the folder, just ‘York, Pa.’ The one from Bell’s was taken probably sometime between 1910 and 1920, so the company logo is a little different from the one in your slide show.”

She then wrote back to add: “Just had a look at a couple of other old family pics, and found one with the Shadle and Busser logo, and another one that says ‘Loring Studio,’ but nothing else, so not sure where that one was located. Had to be in York County somewhere, though, I’m sure of that.”

Melanie, that’s one we didn’t have – thanks!

My friend Lynette Stief says, “I didn’t know the person in the picture from the Shaddle & Busser studio, however it caught my attention, because I knew I recognized the name of the photo studio.”

Lynette continues, “Within a box of random pictures from my Mother’s collection are six pictures similar to this one however, they are all females and one is a young girl. Two are from Shaddle & Busser and the other four are from W.C. Bell. I do not know their names, because there is nothing written on the pictures, but it’s obvious they are relatives. I’m assuming they are from my mother’s side of the family, the Drawbaughs. I assume they are my grandfather’s sisters, but it would be awesome to know. They were all born in the 1800’s. My mother had an incredible mind, a photographic memory. She could give dates for anything, I only wish she would have left information about these pictures. We did a book together before she passed away 9 years ago, about my mothers life, entitled ‘Your Story’ starting from her childhood, when she was born Oct 12, 1913. She mentioned the names of her father’s 7 sisters and 6 brothers. She told me her father Lewis Lincoln Drawbaugh was born October 25, 1869. The oldest sister Susan was born in 1863. They all were raised in Dover and grew up with PA Dutch ancestry.”

She also adds, “I will share my thoughts in regards to the question you raised about how all the studios stayed in business within close proximity of one another. I know we have no pictures of my mother before the age of maybe 2 or 3, because her parents were farmers who lived off their land. They bartered for most things. There were no cameras for the ordinary people of her time, well at least something they could have afforded. When my mom’s older brother came home, she was 2 or 3 years old, this was the first time she had her picture taken by her older brother Fred. It’s my favorite picture of her, curly hair, dirty face, bare feet, smiling and in her hand is an apple. Fred was also the first in the family to own a Ford Model T. If photos were to be taken, it was in the studios. The persons in the pictures were always in elegant Sunday best dress. It would be interesting to know how much it cost to have your picture taken in the late 1800s. Times were very different then, a long way from the age of digital photography.”

Lynette, that’s an excellent point! I, too, would be curious to what the cost was for some of these portraits!

Reader Elaine (Thoman) Miller makes a similar point. “I believe these photo studios were plentiful because cameras were not readily available, and this was the only source for having family photos. Today… everyone is a photographer.”

She said she also has been collecting old family photos in conjunction with genealogy research. She writes, “Many of the photos I’ve received from family members have been cropped (by me) as I focused more on image and dates. However, I do have at least 3 in my collection that have the Shaddle and Busser name and address. They are all from my husband’s side of the family – taken in the late 1800s (1886 to 1895 was my guess). I have a few names to add to your list… On my side of the family I have photos of my maternal grandfather, Edward “Ervin” Smith (1898 – 1991) taken by Kauffman, 12 W. Market St., York, PA when he was a few months old. There are others taken by Kauffman in later years.”

These photos are from the family collection of Elaine (Thoman) Miller. At left is a photo of her paternal grandparents taken in 1913 by The Wilson Studio, 225-227 W. Market St., York, ‘At the Bridge.’ At right is Elaine’s mother, Ruth, at age 3, in a photo taken by The Stauffer Studio, 106 E. Market St., York.

Elaine makes one other request; she says, “If there is a website where York County photos are available for view, I’d love to share.” Elaine, we would LOVE to have those photos posted in the “Historic photos of York County” category of our online gallery.

Longtime photo submitter Gary E. Heiland also sent some more images. (We’d seen some of his photos in a previous post.)

He writes of the photo at right, “My Uncle John Myers with Aunt Katie Trimmer Myers and their children Mary, Helen and Cora. I think Helen and Cora were both RNs but I could be mistaken. I know that two of them were nurses. Uncle John was a self ordained minister and when they would come to eat with us, or we with them, even as a child I was impressed with his prayers. He had a wonderful voice for a preacher and he could raise my feelings with his words. He could tell some pretty good jokes too, but nothing too smutty! Aunt Katie was also a pretty good cook and a really jolly lady. They lived in Fairfield and it was always an adventure to visit them.”

This photo, Gary says, is from Penn Park Studios in York. His best guess at a date would be the mid-1920s.

Eric Lowe says, “I was born in Dec. 1952 and I lived at 37 W Maple St. This was my grandparents’ home and we lived on the second floor. My grandparents moved there before my dad was born in 1926. Across the street to the right at 42 W. Maple St were the elderly Shadle sisters. One was all but blind but they would walk around arm in arm. They would walk up to the old market on Duke St. My dad said one time ‘I don’t know how old those ladies are but I thought they were old when I was a kid.’ I was told that one of them had been a photographer. I think it was the one with vision problems. I believe they might have still been there almost to1967 when we moved away. If not, they were. still there not long before that. I think their dad was the Photographer Shadle. I just looked at my 1903 Atlas and the name at 42 W. Maple St was Shadle.”

(And, of interest, regarding a photo in our original post from Dianne, Eric had some information on him, too! Eric says, “I recognize J.A. Stahle, and although you are correct about his service in the 87th, the GAR came later. To be correct don’t say 87th PA and GAR together. My great-grandfather Williiam Lowe who finally passed away at 37 W. Maple was also in the same GAR post.”)

Is that an “Only in York County” moment or what?

2 comments on “More on York’s former photo studios

  1. Here is some info on Pentz Photographer, Rupps Building, Centre Square.

    Pentz Photographer, Rupps Building, Centre Square, York, PA Operated from 1878-1890
    • Searched for “Pentz Photo” in
    • Showed up first in Dec 12, 1878 “Go to Pentz’s Photograph Galleries, 2nd floor Rupp’s Building, Centre Square. Best Pictures in York”
    • American Journal of Photography 1890 “Business Change. — On Friday the partnership existing between B. C. Pentz and W. H. Swords, under the firm name of Pentz, photographer, was dissolved by mutual consent. Mr. Pentz having disposed of his interest in the photographic business to W. H. and George A. Swords, they still continue the business at the old stand, under the name of Swords Brothers.”

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