Brewer’s Art Studio
Belfast, New York
There were quite a number of people named Brewer around the turn of the 20 century. Here are a few examples:
1866 Peekshill, NY State tax assessment James Brewer as Real Estate Agent
1875 Starkey, NY, state census as James L Brewer as telegraph operator
1880 Jun 05 Yates, NY, US census James L Brewer as Grocer
1900 Starkey, NY, US census James L Brewer as produce dealer
1905 Jun 01 Starkey NY state census as James C Brewer, Fruit Dealer
1905 Niagara, NY, US census as James Brewer, machinist & cook at age 57
1915 Seneca, NY state census as James A Brewer, boiler maker
Worse, there were several photographers named Brewer in New York State between 1890 and 1920 and a few even in modern times.
The only clue found to the photographer Brewer in Belfast, NY, was the small newspaper advertisement from 1896 added here, showing that the operator of “Brewer’s Art Studio” was Jas. Brewer in Belfast, NY. The same ad ran almost weekly from January 1896 through December 1898.The Cuba (NY) Patrior - 1896-1899
From that additional clue, James Brewer was found in a New York State census of 1892 where he is listed as photographer in Belfast, Allegany, NY.
Another ad for Massasoit House shows it was on Main Street. Brewers Art Studio ad says it was across the street from Massasoit House, meaning the studio was possibly on Main Street also.
However, even with the first name added, no other positive connections have been found in any more of the US or State census or NY state tax assessment lists.
A line by line examination of the 34 pages of the 1900 US census for Belfast, NY, found no one named Brewer and no one who claimed to be a photographer. Of course one can imagine many reasons for this. Brewer may simply have been away in June for the 1900 census. Also, he may have only kept a studio in Belfast but lived elsewhere.
In more modern times, from about 1920 to about 1935, there was a married couple, Mr and Mrs F H Brewer, who ran Brewer’s Studio in San Bernardino, CA. There were also “Brewer” studios in SC, 1911, Chicago, IL, 1905, Monroe, LA, 1922, and Louisville, KY, 1911 and more than a dozen other places.
So for now, documents show that James Brewer was a photographer in Belfast, NY, from 1892 to 1899. Did James Brewer retire or just move to another town? Was photography just a sideline for him while he sold real estate or groceries?
There will certainly be updates if more evidence emerges.
Another beautiful example can be found at the
Cabinet Card Gallery