Mystery Monday: 19th Century Photograph Artist H.F. Fletcher

Today’s mystery involved two photographs, one a tintype and one paper, but both taken by “H.F. Fletcher Photograph Artist,” probably between 1865-1869.

UnknownWomanBlackEmbossedCard                 UnknownMan1

The photo of the lady is a tintype, measuring 2 inches by 3.5 inches. The paper casing is embossed with an arch shape at the top. This casing style came into vogue at the close of the Civil War. The woman’s clothing is indicative of the late 1860s.

The young man’s photo appears to date around 1870. The carte de visite measure just under 2.5 inches by just under 4 inches. The gold trim border came into use about this time.

Back of Photograph
Imprint on back of both

The most annoying thing about these photos is that I have been able to find quite a bit of information about the photographer, but other than believing the photos are of people in the Calais, Maine area, I haven’t any idea who they are. They don’t resemble family members I’ve identified and wonder if they were friends and contemporaries either of George and Mary Tarbox or Daniel and Sarah Adams.

As for photograph artist H.F. Fletcher, here is what I’ve found out. H.F. Fletcher was Hezekiah Frank Fletcher, born in July 1838 in Crawford, Washington County, Maine. Crawford is a small town not far from Calais. He was the son of Abraham and Susan (Pendleton) Fletcher, who moved his family from Crawford to Jackson, Waldo County, Maine sometime between the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

H.F., who is found in records both as Hezekiah and as Frank, served in the 8th Regiment, Maine Infantry, Company K, which saw action in South Carolina and Virginia, including the bloody battle of Petersburg and the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. He may also be the same man as the Hezekiah F. Fletcher who also served nine months in the 26th Regiment in Louisiana.

Before heading off to war, Hezekiah married (1) Susannah Boyd on 7 September 1860 in Jackson, Waldo County, Maine. They had two children, Frank Herbert, born about 1861 and Louisa Lizzie, born about 1863. Susannah died on 31 October 1866 and was buried at Jackson, Maine.

Son Frank died on 17 March 1916 in Manchester, Hillsborough, New Hampshire. His wife was Viola L. Rankin and, according to the 1910 census, she was 14 years older than Frank and had given birth to three children, none surviving. They were married before 1885, when the death of their one year old daughter, also Viola L., was recorded in Berwick, York County, Maine. It is also likely that Frank R. Fletcher, born in 1882 and died in 1902 in Berwick, York County, Maine was also their child. Frank and Viola lived in Berwick until 1905, according to his death certificate.

Louisa Lizzie married Alexander H. Gardner on 25 October 1881 in Lowell, Massachusetts. They had two children, Kenneth A. and Clara Dorothy who married Spencer Ayer Gay in 1917 in Massachusetts.

Hezekiah married (2) Clara Edelia Wright on 22 April 1867, also in Jackson, Maine. They also had two children, Dora/Dorrie/Dorothy White, born about 1869 and (Henry) Bruce, born in 1872, also in Jackson, Maine.

Dorothy married Louis Rounsville Hunter on 16 April  1904 in Boston, Massachusetts. Her widowed father, Hezekiah, lived with them in 1910. Louis and Dorothy had one son, George Fletcher, born 28 September 1905. George married Catherine V. (maiden name unknown) and had a daughter, Dorothy A. Hunter, born in Massachusetts about 1935.

Bruce married Emma Willcutt on 11 February 1903 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts. In 1910, Emma reported that she had given birth to one child that didn’t survive and it appears they had no other children, based on later Massachusetts censuses.

Exactly when did Hezekiah follow the photography trade? I believe he was most active in the latter part of the 1860s and early 1870s since that is the time range for the two photos I own. However, he might have continued taking pictures long after that. I also believe he likely traveled back up to the Calais area, where he had friends and family, after the Civil War as he attempted to earn a living at photography.

In 1860, he was at home and getting ready to marry. By 1870, he was still living in Jackson and was enumerated as a farmer. In 1880, he ran a boarding house for the Massachusetts Corporation in Lowell, Massachusetts. In 1900, he was a church sexton in Boston. Last, he was at home with daughter Dorothy’s family in Ward 24, Boston, Massachusetts.

It is possible that Hezekiah has descendants today, through his grandchildren, Dorothy A. Hunter, Kenneth A. Gardner and Clara Dorothy (Gardner) Gay.

If you are descended from Hezekiah Frank Fletcher, I would love to hear from you, particularly if you know anything about his life as a “photograph artist.”

After all this, I am still no closer to identifying the two subjects in the photos. If you have family in the Calais, Maine area and recognize either of them, also please leave a comment.

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