Although the subject of this photo is identified, this dapper young man has proved to be a stumper.
The back is inscribed:
This photo was likely taken about 1890 or slightly later at Clement Photography in Milo, Piscataquis, Maine. Milo is slightly northwest, about 40 miles, from Bangor, Maine. It’s a small mill town, which in 1900, had a population just over 1,000 people.
The photographer, in business from 1900 and later in 1910 and 1920, in Milo, was Fred Charles Clement, born May 1857 in Maine. He was married and had two children at home in 1900. Back in 1880, he worked in an organ factory, but then found his calling in photography.
There are a couple of clues that lead me to that 1890-ish conclusion. First, John’s clothing, specifically the cut of his shirt collar, tie, and vest, in addition to his short hair style, points to late 19th century. Second, while it looks like he is standing outside in the snow, look at the floor. He isn’t outside at all, but standing in front of a wintery backdrop, which became very popular about 1890.
John is well dressed and his clothes fit well, leading me to believe they were his own, rather than props loaned by the photographer.
The coat is well made, no holes or fraying to be found. His gloves fit properly. His trousers appear to have pin stripes and are an appropriate length. Also in style for the time period is is buttoned vest under his winter coat.
John was a relatively young man. I’d say no more than 30 years old.
Back to the issue at hand – who was John?
There is one John Frasial who died in Ellis County, Texas in 1915. Nothing else is found about him, but the death entry online includes a suggestion to Jean Fraizal from Tarn-et-Garonne, France censuses 1870-1911.
Looking at spelling variations, Frasial could definitely be a French surname. Was John a visitor from Canada? An immigrant from France who remained in Maine for only a short time?
Or do you have any suggestions about the spelling of his surname as written on the back of his photograph?
UPDATE: If the man in this photo isn’t the John Frasial who died in Texas in 1915, I think the next best candidate might be John Solomon Frassil/Frauzel, bron 11 January 1859, Nova Scotia, Canada. He died 25 February 1907, Waterloo, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada and is buried in the cemetery there. He was unmarried and appears in the 1901 census, living in his sister-in-law Marie Frozzle’s home.
This family is German, of the Lutheran religion and John Solomon was enumerated as a farmer in 1881 and 1891. He had no occupation in 1901 and perhaps was ill or infirm in health.
His name is spelled differently in every census from 1871 on – John S. Frassel, Solomon Frazel, Solomon Franzel and then Solomon Frozzle.
Why would a man born in Nova Scotia be in Milo, Piscataquis, Maine? From Wikipedia: Milo Junction became the company town of Derby with the second largest railroad car shop and repair facility in New England. There were many jobs to be had in the railroad industry.
John Solomon Frassel (etc.) seems to be the best candidate for the man in the photo. He was born at the right time, there would be a reason for him to be in Milo and he died young and unmarried. It’s possible that someone else, maybe a co-worker, received this photo from John and the recipient wrote his name on the back, sounding out how he thought it would be spelled. John obviously didn’t remain long in Milo.
Please leave suggestions!