Thursday, January 23, 2020

Esther A Bowles



Watson and Bowles
Wyandotte, MI
(Listed under Watson also)

Esther Ann Bowles (ne Buck)
(1852 - 1922)

Timeline sources: city directories, US census, Directory Early Michigan Photographers by D V Tinder

1852 Apr 18
Hopkins, MI, state records, Esther Ann Buck is born to Seralpha Couch Buck and Mary Caroline Knaggs
1860 Jun 04
Hopkins, MI, US census, Esther A Buck at eight years old
1869 Jan 01
Kent, MI, state records, Esther A Buck marries George A Bowles
1870 Jul 02
Ganges, MI, US census, Esther Bowles, housekeeping, living with husband’s family
1874 Jan 16
Sumner, MI, state records, daughter Jessie May Bowles is born
1880 Jun 08
Sumner, MI, US census Esther A Bowles as housekeeping
1880 Jun 19
Sumner, MI, state records, son Vernon Lemond Bowles is born

1890’s early
D V Tinder account: Esther and husband part
1892
D V Tinder account: Esther Bowles advertises as photographer and artist in crayon, pastel and oil (a copy of the actual ad has not been found)
1893
D V Tinder account: George Bowles remarries to Martha E Totem
1893 Dec 14
Gratiot County, MI, state records, daughter Jessie May Bowles dies
1897 Apr
D V Tinder account: Esther A Bowles circulates a petition against Sunday operation of photograph galleries; also Bowles Gallery moves from corner of Biddle Av and Chestnut to “Bolton’s adjoining lot”
1898
D V Tinder account: Esther A Bowles advertises photograph work at 128 Biddle Avenue North
1898 Mar 27
Wyandotte, MI, Detroit Free Press small business directory lists E A Bowles, photographer
1898 Oct
D V Tinder account: Esther A Bowles moves across Biddle Avenue to site next to Presbyterian Church (Apparently this is 123 Biddle Ave)

1900 Jun 04
Wyandotte, MI, US census, Esther A Bowles as “widow”, no occupation shown
Note: throughout the records for Esther A Bowles, her marital status varies. She claims mostly to be widowed.
1902 May 15
Detroit (MI) Free Press, item says there was a fire at the photograph gallery of Mrs E A Bowles
1902 Jun
D V Tinder account and St Louis and Canada photography, vol 28 small item says the gallery of Mrs E A Bowles in Detroit, MI, was destroyed by fire
1902 Oct
D V Tinder account: Esther A Bowles advertises offering “Widows and Working Girls” special discount from Oct 16th to December 01, 1902; (copy of the actual ad has not been found)
1907
Wyandotte, MI, city directory, “Mrs” Esther A Bowles as photographer at 123 Biddle; res same
1910 Apr 20
Wyandotte, MI, US census and city directory, Esther Bowles “married” as photographer at 123 Biddle
1912 Jul 03
Bulletin of Photography, vol 11, news item says Mrs E A Bowles spoke briefly at a luncheon of the Woman’s Federation


1915
Wyandotte, MI, city directory, “Mrs” Esther A Bowles as photographer at 123 Biddle; res same
1920 Jan 08
Wyandotte, MI, US census, Esther Bowles (widowed) as photographer, retired, at 123 Biddle; res same
1922 Nov 29
Wyandotte, MI, state records, Esther Ann Bowles dies at age 70 of Bright’s disease; listed on death certificate as photographer

Nothing has been found to establish exactly when Esther Bowles and Watson were actually working together. The most logical period would seem to be when Bowles was starting out in photography sometime before 1890. Although Bowles is always documented in Wyandotte, MI, and Watson always in Detroit, MI, the two cities are only 14 miles apart.

Between 1876 and 1880 J E Watson had other partners and assistants in the “Grand Central Gallery” also named “Land and Watson” and “Watson and Company”. Then in 1890, Watson moved to Portland, OR, for his health.

In any scenario, the partnership seems to have lasted only a short time, months, perhaps weeks.

Detroit (MI) Free Press - 27 Mar 1898


St Louis and Canada Photographers - 15 May 1902


Detroit (MI) Free Press - 15 May 1902

Bulletin of Photography vol 11 - 03 Jul 1912


This studio portrait is not a cabinet card (actual dimensions not known) but is from the Bowles Studio in Wyandotte. The imprint is very faint. This one is probably from after 1900, perhaps even 1910.

Examples of the work of Esther A Bowles are apparently a bit scarce.




photographer Mrs E A Bowles
Wyandotte, MI
example contributed by M Reed

photographer Esther A Bowles
Wyandotte, MI
example contributed by M Reed

Thanks to contributor M Reed for a scarce example from this photographer!

Dating these cards based on the style of he card and the imprints.

The straight edged card could be assumed made before the deckled edge card. But the cabinet card era photographers were known to use up older card stock whenever possible, so it's still a very shaky assumption. Basically, the plainer the card, the earlier it was probably finished.

The logo imprint is more difficult to reconcile. It is the same on both cards. Some photographers, especially the itinerant ones, imprinted their own card blanks. But many ordered them in hundreds, pre-cut and imprinted, from a photo supply or a local printer. The photographers often changed imprint designs with each order. This could mean that these two cards were possibly made within a few hundred cards of each other.

All things considered, the two could even have been finished the same day. That itself is not unusual. Families often went to the photographer's studio in groups and had several poses with different combinations of relatives done.

Based on just the appearance of the cards and the known history of photographer Bowles, they were possibly made circa 1895, but one can see there are many conditions that could stretch that a decade either way.


Not the one you were looking for? Here's the photographer's INDEX by name. Listed here are all the Cabinet Card photographers of the 19th century found in LOST GALLERY. This is a work in progress. For a look at the original postings go to LOST GALLERY.

Some examples on this page have been enhanced or restored for clarity and presentation here.

This page is free for educational and research purposes only but, as always, if the original owner of any of these examples objects to the use on this page, they will be immediately removed.

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