- Associated Press - Friday, January 1, 2016

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - At first glance, the picture on the yellowed postcard of a baby with chubby cheeks wearing a lacy white dress was probably taken in late 1800s, early 1900s.

A second photograph shows two men dressed in suits with vests, ties and hats, and a woman in a Victorian blouse and a long dark skirt. They are sitting in a circa 1910 buggy that is hooked to a horse standing patiently with its ears drawn back, the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1OsdnVA).

As was typical of pictures of that time, no one is smiling.

Who are these people?

Conrad Altenbernd III, of Lawrence, said he has been asking that question since he bought an antique box camera for $25 at a garage sale on Rhode Island Street in the mid-1980s from a family who owned the former Miller Printing Press.

He later found the collection of old photos inside the case for the camera.

Two glass slides one of a wintry day depicting the old Bowersock plant and dam next to the bridge over the frozen Kansas River, the other of the South Park Gazebo were still in the camera.

Altenbernd said he took the camera, a Seneca, to Wolfe’s Camera in Topeka, where a specialist said it was typical of cameras made in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

Such cameras were often used to make postcards. They are “traveling” cameras that fold down into a small case. Altenbernd’s camera has a tripod and a hood that fits over a photographer’s head. A squeeze ball is used to snap the picture.

Altenbernd said he took the photographs he found to the Watkins Museum of History in downtown Lawrence and asked the staff to try to identify what year they were taken.

A photo of a vintage car with four unsmiling people and a dog, as well as a photo of the Bowersock plant, was especially helpful in determining a date, Altenbernd said. Many of the buildings lining the south bank of the Kansas River no longer exist today. A horse and buggy are crossing the bridge. And the bridge has concrete pilings, which is another indicator.

Then there is the photo of South Park Gazebo, which was built in 1906.

All are clues to the period of time the photos were taken, and the museum staff determined that period to be in the early 1900s, Altenbernd said.

But who are the people?

The only clue, Altenbernd said, was on the back of the postcard of the baby in the lacy white dress.

On the back is a note:

“Dear Grandma,

the baby has the pneumonia. fever had the Doc yesterday. is some better today. if he gets worse will let you no. his fever was 104 yesterday and 101 1/2 today.”

The signature is not legible, but it is addressed to Mrs. Rose Glidewell of Harris, Missouri, Route 2. A check of ancestry records at findagrave.com shows that a woman named Rose A. Reger Glidewell was born in 1860 in West Virginia, moved to Harris, then eventually died there in 1945. A quick search for grandchildren didn’t turn up any information.

Altenbernd, who said his ancestors were one of the first families to settle in Lawrence, said that in recent years he has enjoyed enlarging the images and giving them to people.

A large image of the Bowersock Plant is now on display at the old plant.

“Originally I had the negatives printed in their 3-by-5 size,” Altenbernd said. “I had them for 25 years. Then technology caught up, and I digitized the negatives and started making those big prints.

“This has been a lot of fun,” he said.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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