Abraham Lincoln: Springfield Photographs and Photographers

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Abraham Lincoln: Springfield Photographs and Photographers

1837: The year 1837 was perhaps the most important in Springfield’s history. In January, the Illinois Legislature chose Springfield as the new site for the State Capitol and in April, Abraham Lincoln moved from New Salem to Springfield.

In the same year in Paris, France, Louis Daguerre developed the first practical photographic process—the daguerreotype. The French government acquired rights to the process and on August 19, 1839 announced that the rights were “Free to the World.” The daguerreotype technology swept through Europe and by the early 1840s had crossed the Atlantic to the United States where its use became wide spread.

1845: By September 19, 1845, the technology had reached Springfield, Illinois, a town of about 3,500 people situated at the western edge of the American frontier. On that date, Springfield’s first known itinerant photographer, Frederick Coombs, advertised in Springfield’s Register: “Daguerreotype Miniatures — For a short time only, at the American House.”

The following month, Nicholas H. Shepherd advertised in Springfield’s Sangamo Journal that he was a “daguerreotype artist late of New York city” who had taken a room for a few days over Delany’s Grocery store on Adams Street. He was prepared to “execute likenesses, from the smallest to the largest ever taken in this country.”

1846: The following year, Shepherd took the earliest known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, a 37 year-old, newly elected Congressman.

From the first photograph of Lincoln taken by Shepherd in 1846 until the last taken on February 9, 1861, just two days before Lincoln departed for Washington, three Springfield photographers took at least 22 photographs of Abraham Lincoln. The three photographers were Nicholas H. Shepherd, Christopher Smith German and Preston Butler. Several of their photographs have become iconic and American cultural treasures. These photographers have been immortalized by their fortuitous relationship with Lincoln and their photographs of him contribute to the visual record of this most famous American.

The photographers of many of the photographs of Abraham Lincoln are unknown. Surely some were Springfield photographers. The search for photographs of Abraham Lincoln continues as does the effort to identify the photographers of many of the Lincoln photographs.

Richard E. Hart

THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Nicholas H. Shepherd’s 1846 Daguerreotype

Nicholas H. Shepherd’s 1846 Daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln is the earliest-known to exist. It was most likely taken by Springfield photographer Nicholas H. Shepherd after 37-year-old Lincoln was elected to Congress on August 3, 1846, and before the end of that year. The photograph was probably taken in Shepherd’s studio above a drug store at the northwest corner of the Public Square—the northwest corner of Fifth and Washington streets. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 1. Daguerreotype by N. H. Shepherd, Springfield. The earliest known portrait of Lincoln. This is the Lincoln of Springfield, Decatur, and Bloomington. He is thirty-seven and has just been elected as Representative in the 30th Congress. The original daguerreotype is in the Library of Congress, Washington.

He is thirty-seven. He has just been elected to the Congress. Gone are the days of woodcutting, of building cabins in the wilderness, of ferrying boats at Anderson Creek, of taking merchandise to New Orleans. Gone the lovely days in New Salem, of reading late into the night, of discussion in the store, of telling stories to anyone who wished to hear. Gone the days in the legislature at Vandalia, gone forever. Now he has been married for nearly four years, he is the father of two boys, he owns a respectable house in Springfield, he has not done so badly as a lawyer—and he is going to Washington—as a member of the 13th Congress. Life has just begun for him. It is 1846.

Meserve Description: “The earliest known portrait of Abraham Lincoln. A photograph of the daguerreotype believed to have been made by N. H. Shepherd in Springfield, Illinois, in 1846.”

Mellon’s Description: “Lincoln’s earliest known photographic likeness, made probably in 1846, when at the age of thirty-seven he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. Original daguerreotype, believed to have been made by N. H. Shepherd, in Springfield, Illinois. Library of Congress.”

Ostendorf Description: This daguerreotype by N. H. Shepherd, Springfield, Illinois, 1846, is the earliest-known photograph of Abraham Lincoln, then congressman-elect from Illinois.

The best evidence that Nicholas H. Shepherd took this portrait is the recollection of Gibson W. Harris, a law student in Lincoln’s law office from 1845 to 1847. Harris and Shepherd were friends and shared a room in a Springfield boardinghouse. Harris recognized the daguerreotype as the work of his friend and said that Lincoln sat for Shepherd one or more times. The photograph was first published in McClure’s magazine in December, 1895, after Robert T. Lincoln had revealed its existence to writer Ida Tarbell. Robert said that these daguerreotypes of his mother and father hung on the wall of the Lincoln home from the time he could first remember as a child.

As Mary packed for the move to Washington after her husband’s election to the Presidency, her longtime housekeeper, Maria Vance, was in the room when Mary removed these two photographs. Mariah reported that Mary said, “These are my two most precious pictures, taken when we were young and so desperately in love. They will grace the walls of the White House. They belong there to the last.”

The original daguerreotype of Lincoln was presented to the Library of Congress in October, 1937, by Mary Lincoln Isham, Robert T. Lincoln’s daughter.

Preston Butler’s Photograph of July 1858

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln was taken in July of 1858 by Springfield photographer Preston Butler. Lincoln was 49 years-old. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 9. Ambrotype by Preston Butler, Springfield, Ill. The debates were over—Lincoln’s name was known throughout the country. Some years later, when he gave an address at Atlanta, Ill., his host, Sylvester Strong, asked Lincoln for a photograph. Lincoln presented Mr. Strong with this ambrotype on his return to Springfield.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number M-17: “A photograph of the ambrotype believed to have been made by Preston Butler in Springfield in 1858. McClure’s Magazine of March, 1896, state it was copied from a carbon enlargement of the ambrotype of June 1860, but the style of collar worn by Mr. Lincoln seems to place it in the earlier year.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-7, p. 24: He looks bland in this faded ambrotype (O-7) by Preston Butler, Springfield, Illinois, about July 1858. On July 17, 1858, Lincoln visited Atlanta, Illinois, and heard Douglas harangue a crowd but declined to speak himself. His host, Sylvester Strong, asked for a picture. Soon after Lincoln’s return to Springfield, he sent Strong this ambrotype, now in the Ostendorf collection.

Mellon’s Description: “Gelatin silver print of a lost carbon enlargement of the lost ambrotype believed to have been made by Preston Butler, in Springfield, Illinois, during the summer of 1858. Meserve Collection.”


From March 1856 through 1860, Preston Butler’s photographic studio was on the third floor of “Ruth’s New Building” on the South side of the Public Square. The 1858 photograph of the South Side of the Square shown below was taken by Preston Butler and shows the roof top sign advertising Butler’s gallery. It was here that Butler took the photograph of Lincoln in July 1858.

Christopher Smith German’s Two Photographs of September 23, 1858

First: Christopher Smith German’s Photograph of Abraham Lincoln, September 23, 1858

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln was one of two taken on September 23, 1858 by Springfield photographer Christopher Smith German. Lincoln was 49 years-old. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 15. Probably by C. S. German, Springfield. Lincoln presented this photograph, made in Springfield, to Mrs. Harriet Chapman, granddaughter of Sarah Bush Lincoln, with the words? “This is not a very good-looking picture, but it is the best that could be produced from the poor subject.”

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 9: “A photograph of the daguerreotype believed to have been made by C. S. German in Springfield in 1860. Major William H. Lambert of Philadelphia, who owned the original, was unable to give the compiler its history, but he believed it was made in 1858.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number __. “Uncle Abe” poses for a relative in this photograph, probably by C. S. German of Springfield, Illinois, about September 23, 1858.”

Mellon’s Description: “Quarter-plate daguerreotype of the lost original, almost certainly an ambrotype or daguerreotype, believed to have been made by Christopher S. German, in Springfield, Illinois, during late September 1858. Courtesy of Larry West.”


Second: Christopher Smith German’s Daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln, September 23, 1858

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln was one of two taken on September 23, 1858 by Springfield photographer Christopher Smith German. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Not noted.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 9: “A photograph of the daguerreotype believed to have been made by C. S. German in Springfield in 1860. Major William H. Lambert of Philadelphia, who owned the original, was unable to give the compiler its history, but he believed it was made in 1858.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: “Uncle Abe” poses for a relative in this photograph, probably by C. S. German of Springfield, Illinois, about September 23, 1858.”

Mellon’s Description: Mellon Number 11. “Quarter-plate daguerreotype of the lost original, almost certainly an ambrotype or daguerreotype, believed to have been made by Christopher S. German, in Springfield, Illinois, during late September 1858. Courtesy of Larry West.”

The only days Lincoln was in Springfield during late September 1858 were Saturday evening September 25, Sunday, September 26, and until 7:00 a.m. on September 27. Lincoln was in Danville and Urbana on September 23.

Preston Butler’s Three Photographs of May 20, 1860

First: Preston Butler’s Ambrotype Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Sunday, May 20, 1860

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln is one of three taken in May of 1860 by Springfield photographer Preston Butler. Lincoln was 51 years-old. In 1860, Preston Butler’s “photographic and ambrotype gallery” was located on the third floor of a building on the South Side of the Public Square—across the street from the State House. It can be seen in the picture at page __. It is there that Butler took the following photographs of Lincoln on May 20 and August 13, 1860.

1860 Federal Census: artist; $600/$200 Kentucky, 42 years old; wife Catherine, age 38 born in Illinois; 4 children; Elizabeth Butler, age 60, born in South Carolina;

Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 20. Photograph by William Church, Springfield. This is another plate taken at the same time as the previous one. On the evening before, Lincoln had received the Nomination Committee in his home. After Lincoln had thanked the chairman, he presented the members of the Committee to Mrs. Lincoln.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 21: “A photograph of the ambrotype made by William Church in Springfield on May 20, 1860, two days after Lincoln’s nomination for President. This and Numbers 22 and 109 are believed to be the first portraits made of Lincoln after his nomination.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-21. “He looks straight into the camera. A second pose at the same sitting by William Marsh, Springfield, Illinois, May 20, 1860. Between exposures Lincoln used his fingers to comb what Sir William Howard Russell called his “thatch of wild Republican hair.” In both pictures Lincoln’s spectacles cord is visible across his white shirt.

The previous attribution of this and its companion pose to an imaginary William Church was perhaps caused by the misreading of an early identification. When written in the florid script of the last century, a capital “M” closely resemble “Ch,” and after this alteration, it would be easy to read a “u” for an “a” and a “c” for an “s” to turn the name “Marsh” into “Church.”

Mellon’s Description: “The compiler believes that the three poses are the work of the Springfield photographer Preston Butler. On May 24, 1860, four days after this pose and at least one of the two companion poses were made, Butler advertised in the Illinois State Journal as follows: “P. Butler of this city has a number of photograph likenesses of Hon. Abraham Lincoln. He will sell them for one dollar each…” Furthermore, Butler, who is believed to have photographed Lincoln once before, made four poses of the presidential candidate on May 26, though none of these is known to survive. Again, on June 7, the Illinois State Journal reported: “P. Butler has executed a miniature photograph of Mr. Lincoln, suitable for badges…price 10 cents each, or $6 per thousand. His larger photographs are the best we have seen, and are going off quick at one dollar each.”

The Lincoln Newsletter: The artistically-important Lincoln portrait—a beautiful salt print with an elaborate gold printed border—was taken on May 20, 1860, two days after Lincoln won his party’s presidential nomination. The evening before sitting for the photograph, he had greeted well-wishers who swarmed into his Springfield home to congratulate him on his convention victory.

The “vast crowd…passed in at the front door, and made their exit through the kitchen door in the rear,” an eyewitness remembered, “Mr. Lincoln giving them all a hearty shake of the hand as they passed him in the parlor.” Hour after hour, Lincoln shook hands with friends, neighbors, and admirers—as well as the official committee appointed by the Convention to notify him formally of his nomination. The ordeal left the nominee’s hand badly swollen.

Nevertheless, when one of the members of that notification committee, delegate Marcus L. Ward of New Jersey, asked the next day for a photograph of the newly-anointed standard-bearer, Lincoln agreed to walk to a nearby gallery to have a new portrait taken. The photograph was made by William Marsh, who gallery was located a few doors from the candidate’s law office, across the public square from the State Capitol where Lincoln had delivered his famous “House Divided” speech two years earlier.


Second: Preston Butler’s Ambrotype Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Sunday, May 20, 1860

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln is another of the three taken in May of 1860 by Springfield photographer Preston Butler. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 21. Photograph by William Church, Springfield. And this is the third plate. Probably no more pictures were taken, but this is not certain. There is still a possibility of a fourth plate, which has not yet been found. Three days after this picture was taken Lincoln formally accepted the nomination for the presidency.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 22: “A photograph of the ambrotype made by William Church in Springfield on May 20, 1860. This portrait, with Numbers 21 and 19, had no wide circulation, as they were made for Mr. J. Henry Brown of Philadelphia, who used them in painting a portrait of the nominee.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-20. “Lincoln lifts his eyes upward in this photograph (O-20) by William Marsh, Springfield, Illinois, May 20, 1860. Visited by Republican Convention delegate Marcus L. Ward of Newark, New Jersey, two days after his nomination, Lincoln was asked for a photograph. “He replied,” wrote Ward, “that he had not a satisfactory one, ‘but then’ he added, ‘we will walk out together and I will sit for one.’”

Long attributed to “William Church,” this portrait was actually taken by William Marsh, listed in the 1860-61 Springfield City Directory as “Photographer, Ambrotypes, W.S. Public Square.” No William Church appeared in the directory.”

Mellon’s Description: Mellon Number 21. “Original ambrotype presented by Lincoln to Marcus L. Ward, a delegate to the Republican national convention that had nominated Lincoln for the presidency. Made in Springfield, Illinois, May 20, 1860, probably by Preston Butler. Newark Public Library.”

Day By Day: May 20, 1860: “Lincoln sits for two photographs. Meserve, 53.”

Kuhhardts Description: “Probably by Preston Butler, Springfield, Ill., May 20, 1860.”


Third: Preston Butler’s Ambrotype Photograph of Abraham Lincoln, May 20, 1860

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln is another of the three taken in May of 1860 by Springfield photographer Preston Butler. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 109: “A photograph of the ambrotype made by William Church in Springfield on May 20, 1860, at the same time as Numbers 21 and 22.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-22. “Six days after his nomination, this ambrotype, probably by William Marsh, Springfield, May 24, 1860, was taken at the suggestion of Lincoln’s campaign biographer, Joseph H. Barrett, who needed a photograph as the frontispiece for his Life of Abraham Lincoln (Cincinnati, 1860). Wrote Barrett: “At my request and in my presence (May 24, 1860) he sat for a daguerreotype (a term used for ambrotypes mounted in daguerreotype cases) which was lithographically reproduced for the volume then in preparation, published the following month.”

Previous biographers has assigned this photograph to the sitting of May 20, but notice that Lincoln’s spectacle cord is not visible and his tie is knotted differently.”.”

Mellon’s Description: Mellon Number 18. “Lincoln, several days after being nominated for the presidency of the United States. Original ambrotype presented by Lincoln to Joseph H. Barrett and subsequently reproduced lithographically as a frontispiece in Barrett’s Life of Abraham Lincoln. Made in Springfield, Illinois, May 20 or 24, 1860, probably by Preston Butler. Nebraska State Historical Society.”

Day By Day: “May 20. Lincoln sits for two photographs. Meserve, 53.” takes three photographs of Abraham Lincoln;

On May 24, 1860, Preston Butler advertised in the Journal that he had a number of photographs of the “Next President” that he would sell at one dollar each.


May 24, 1860 Newspaper Advertisement for Preston Butler’s Lincoln Photographs

On June 7, 1860, the Illinois State Journal reported: “P. Butler has executed a miniature photograph of Mr. Lincoln, suitable for badges…price 10 cents each, or $6 per thousand. His larger photographs are the best we have seen, and are going off quick at one dollar each.”


Editor of the Aegis:

I made my advent in Springfield in June, 1855, as a photographer. I knew no one there. I was a Republican, but not a voter at that time. I was a strong John C. Freemont supporter. …

After the defeat of Fremont, three men got up a call for the organization of the Republican party in Springfield. The call was gotten up by Mr. John Hopper, John Baker and myself. The call was signed by Lincoln, Shelby M. Cullom, J. C. Conklin, Col. King, Ed Thayer, E. B. Hawley, James M. Garland, Stephen Smith (of this city, now dead), William Wood and many others, most of whom are dead. The first meeting was held in my studio, I being temporary chairman. We organized the Springfield Republican club and chose Lincoln as our party leader. We soon saw that he was the only man to be pitted against Douglas, the little giant (with whom I had become acquainted) in the contest for the United States senate. All know the result—that, though defeated, it placed Lincoln in the front for the presidency at the next election. We changed the name of the club to the Springfield Lincoln Republican club and passed resolutions recommending him as our candidate for the nomination at the national convention at Chicago. We forwarded a copy to the national committee at Hartford, Conn.

In the convention he was nominated and was elected. It need not be told what a hot time we had. I helped to organize a Republican club in Taylorville, Christian county, in a loft over a store by candle light, as we did not meet in the daytime in that place in those days.

During the campaign Mr. Preston Butler (now dead) and myself made a vast number of Lincoln and Douglas photographs. I remember that when Lincoln was to make a speech at the fair grounds, that the horses were taken from the carriage and he was drawn to the stand by a number of men, so great was the enthusiasm of the people. … J. G. Stewart

HE PICTURED LINCOLN Remi___ Mr. J. G. Stewart, Who Photographed Martyred President and Was Intimate Friend

The men who personally knew Abraham Lincoln grow fewer each year, but there are none who during the time he grew into prominence saw more of him than Mr. J. G. Stewart of 1206 East Jefferson street in this city. In 1857 he was a photographer in Springfield and he says he distinctly remembers one day when he saw a big, tall, raw-boned, cadaverous, “gangly” looking man, crossing the street. The object of his interest (photographers are always looking for some interesting specimen for their cameras) were a “raglan” coat, pantaloons that fit only in spots, and a tall hat. He had on a pair of short top boots and negligence of dress or choice, caused him to leave a trouser leg caught on the top of one of his boots.

Mr. Stewart belonged to the Fremont party early in that time and after Fremont defeat he left what was then the People’s party and with John Hepper and John Barker, issued a call for a meeting to organize the first Republican party which was ever known in Springfield. The call was signed by A. Lincoln, S. M. Cullom, E. B. Hawley, Col. King, J. Garland and a number of others who later were very prominent in the political history of the state and nation. The first meeting was held in the photograph gallery of Mr. Stewart and he as temporary chairman called the meeting to order. There were about fifty of the original members, but the number was swelled to 200 or more later. This organization later developed in the Lincoln Club after James Armstrong and William Fitzhugh, presented and secured the passage of a resolution to the national committee at Hartford, Conn., recommending Mr. Lincoln for the presidency.

MADE 450,000 PICTURES

What followed is national history and the children in the schools can repeat it. The campaign was a red hot one. Mr. Stewart was actively in politics and he and Pres. Butler made over 450,000 pictures of Mr. Lincoln for the campaign, a thousand of which were sent to people who had requested copies with the candidate’s autograph. Of course these bore the president’s familiar signature. In the same campaign Mr. Stewart also made 50,000 pictures of Stephen A. Douglas.

Preston Butler’s Two Photographs of August 13, 1860

First: Preston Butler’s Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Monday, August 13, 1860

Preston Butler’s Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Monday, August 13, 1860

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln, is one of two taken on August 13, 1860 by Springfield photographer Preston Butler. Lincoln was 51 years-old. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 35. Ambrotype by P. Butler, Springfield. This is nearly the same pose as in the previous portrait. On this day he credits promissory notes of A. and J. Haines of Pekin with a fifty-dollar payment. Two days later he writes to a friend that he has received many assurances from the South that they would not make efforts to break up the Union.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number M-29: “A photograph of the 4” x 5” ambrotype made by Preston Butler in Springfield on August 13, 1860, for Mr. J. Henry Brown, who used it to make a miniature on ivory which later was owned by Mr. Robert Todd Lincoln.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-36. “Hard lines in his face” show in this ambrotype by Preston Butler, Springfield, Monday, August 13, 1860. This pose and the similar one opposite (O-37) were made for the portrait painter, John Henry Brown, noted for his miniatures on ivory. Brown arrived in Springfield on August 12 with a commission from Judge John M. Read of Philadelphia to paint a good-looking miniature of Lincoln “whether or not the subject justifies it”! Brown went with Lincoln to Butler’s daguerreotype studio, where Butler took six ambrotypes, of which only these two survive. “There are so many hard lines in his face,” wrote Brown in his diary, “that it becomes a mask to the inner man. His true character only shines out when in an animated conversation, or when telling an amusing tale…He is said to be a homely man; I do not think so.”

Mellon’s Description: “The fifty-one year-old presidential candidate. Believed to be the only surviving original of the half dozen ambrotypes made by Preston Butler, in Springfield, Illinois, August 13, 1860, for use by the miniature portraitist John Henry Brown. Library of Congress.”

“In August 1860, Judge John Read, a Republican leader in Philadelphia who was dissatisfied with the current likenesses of Lincoln, sent the miniature portraitist John Henry Brown, of Philadelphia, to paint the Republican presidential candidate for a campaign engraving, which was later made by Samuel Sartain. In Springfield, Illinois, Brown engaged the photographer Preston Butler to make some ambrotypes of Lincoln, who presumably could not spare the time for extensive sittings. Of the half dozen ambrotypes which Butler made, all except this one appear to be lost, though the image of a second one is preserved in copy photographs (see page 193, lower left). Of Brown’s painting, which was influenced by the surviving ambrotype, Lincoln wrote to Judge Read, “The miniature likeness of myself, taken by your friend, J. Henry Brown, is an excellent one, so far as I can judge. To my unpracticed eye, it is without fault.” The ambrotype was acquired from the painter’s son, P. Brown, by the Lincoln collector William Lambert. Later owned by A. Conger Goodyear, it was bequeathed with his collection to the Library of Congress in 1965.”

Day By Day: “August 13. J. Henry Brown, Pennsylvania artist, arrives with letter of introduction from John M. Read, Pennsylvania Republican. Lincoln consents to sit for miniature painted on ivory. “We walked together…,” wrote Brown, “to a daguerrean establishment. I had a half dozen of ambrotypes taken of him before I could get one to suit me.” InFtwL---Brown Journal, Ms., photo.”

Kuhhardts Description: “By Preston Butler, Springfield, Illinois, August 13, 1860.”


Preston Butler’s Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Monday, August 13, 1860 This photograph of Abraham Lincoln, is one of two taken on August 13, 1860 by Springfield photographer Preston Butler. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 34. Ambrotype by P. Butler, Springfield. This plate, 4 by 5 inches in size, was given to J. Henry Brown, the artist, who used it as a model to make a miniature on ivory. Five days before this portrait was taken, the Illinois Republicans held a great really to celebrate Lincoln’s nomination. Lincoln did not want to make a speech, so he escaped on horseback.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number M-30: “A photograph of the 4” x 5” ambrotype made by Preston Butler in Springfield on August 13, 1860. It is likely that this portrait was made for the same purpose as was Number 29.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-37. “The last beardless portrait, an ambrotype by Preston Butler, taken at his daguerreotype studio in Springfield, August 13, 1860, was made at the request of the miniaturist, John Henry Brown of Philadelphia. Lincoln’s lips are firmly set, but there is a half-twinkle in his eyes. Earlier in the summer the journalist Charles C. Coffin had called upon the candidate and noted “a sincerity which won instant confidence. The lines upon his face, the large ears, sunken cheeks, enormous nose, shaggy hair, the deep-set eyes, sparkling with humor, and which seemed to be looking far away, were distinguishing facial marks…a stranger meeting him on a country road, ignorant of his history, would have said, “He is no ordinary man.”

Christopher Smith German’s Photograph of January 13, 1861

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln was taken on January 13, 1861 by Springfield photographer Christopher Smith German. This is the first picture of 51 years-old Lincoln with a beard, which he began to grow on October 19, 1860. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 37. By C. S. German, Springfield, Ill. Lincoln was still in Springfield. He received delegation after delegation. People flocked to see the President-elect. He announced that his departure for Washington would be on February 11th. Meanwhile he worked on his first inaugural message.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 34: “A photograph made by C. S. German in Springfield, January 26, 1861. The original negative of cabinet size is in the Lincoln Collection of Dr. Herbert Wells Fay of Springfield. The portrait for the original ten-dollar greenback was engraved from this photograph.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-41. “Result: A neat Beard. Unretouched photograph by C. S. German, Springfield, probably taken on Sunday, January 13, 1861. This first portrait of Lincoln with a full beard was made at the request of Ohio sculptor Thomas D. Jones, who had come to Springfield to make a bust of Lincoln from life.”

Mellon Description: Contemporary albumen print from the lost original negative made by Christopher S. German, in Springfield, Illinois, January 13, 1861, for use by the sculptor Thomas Jones. Mellon Collection. Rare contemporary albumen print from a lost negative, possibly the original made by Christopher S. German, in Springfield Illinois, February 9, 1861. Ostendorf Collection.

Christopher Smith German’s Two Photographs of February 9, 1861

This photograph of Abraham Lincoln was one of two taken on February 9, 1861 by Springfield photographer Christopher Smith German. These are the last photographs of Lincoln to be taken in Springfield and among the first of Lincoln with a newly grown beard. Lincoln was 51 years-old.

First: Christopher Smith German’s Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Saturday, February 9, 1861

Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 38. By C. S. German, Springfield, Ill. This is the last portrait made of Lincoln before he left for Washington; On February 11, his last day in his home town. He visited his law office. He said to Herndon: “Give our clients to understand that the election of a president make no change in the fir of Lincoln & Herndon.”

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 35: “Enlarged directly from a negative believed to be the original by C. S. German made in Springfield in February, 1861, now in the Meserve Collection. This and the next portrait are believed to be the last portraits of Lincoln before he left for Washington to be inaugurated President of the United States.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-43. “The last sitting in Springfield, a photograph by C. S. German, Springfield, February 9, 1861, two days before Lincoln left for Washington. The heavy beard softens the lines in his face, and makes him less gaunt. His eyes are lifted, giving the features a benign, almost saintly expression. He is now the man whom tens of thousands of Union soldiers will shortly know as “Father Abraham.”

Mellon Description: Mellon Number 25. The President-elect, two days before he left Springfield en route to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration. Rare contemporary albumen print from the lost original negative made by Christopher S. German, in Springfield, Illinois, February 9, 1861. Lincoln National Life Foundation.

Second: Christopher Smith German’s Photograph of Abraham Lincoln Saturday, February 9, 1861
I believe that this is the first profile photograph of Lincoln with a beard. Here is what the Lincoln photographic historians have said about this photograph:

Lorant Description: Lorant No. 39. By C. S. German, Springfield, Ill. The family had already broken up housekeeping and was staying at Chenery House. The day of departure was near. Everything was packed and he himself labeled the baggage: “The White House, Washington.” This photograph was taken at the same time as the previous one.

Meserve Description: Meserve Number 36: “A photograph made by C. S. German in Springfield in February, 1861, at the same time as Number 35.”

Hamilton-Ostendorf Description: Ostendorf Number O-44. “The First Bearded Profiles. Photograph by C. S. German, Springfield, February 9, 1861, taken during the same sitting as the photograph on the preceding page (Number 43).”

Mellon Description: Rare contemporary albumen print from a lost negative, possibly the original made by Christopher S. German, in Springfield Illinois, February 9, 1861. Ostendorf Collection.

When one compares the photograph of Lincoln taken on August 13, 1860, with that taken 6 months later on February 9, 1861, it is apparent that Lincoln’s appearance went through a remarkable transformation. His hair is longer and rather than being combed across the forehead is combed back making a higher forehead. There is hair showing below his right ear at the back of his neck. The beard he began to grow on about October 19, 1860 has begun to fill the lower part of his face, giving it a longer frame.


August 13, 1860 February 9, 1861

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS

Nicholas H. Shepherd

Nicholas H. Shepherd was a daguerrian in Springfield from 1845 to 1848. He was born in 1822 in New York State. In the 1843-1844 Census, Shepherd is listed as a “druggist” at 549 Grand Street, New York City. “It is known that with their knowledge of chemicals many druggists went into the then new and exciting business of making daguerreotypes…”

As early as 1845, Shepherd was taking pictures in various cities of Illinois. He first advertised his service in Springfield in the Sangamo Journal on October 30, 1845, stating that he was “late of New York City” and had taken rooms for a few days over the grocery store of J. Delany on Adams Street.

Shepherd later moved his studio and on January 10, 1846, advertised in the Journal that his “Daguerreotype Miniature Gallery” was over the Drug Store of J. Brookie at the northwest corner of Fifth and Washington Streets. He stated that he would remain there until February 1. It was probably in this studio that Shepherd took the earliest photograph of Abraham Lincoln.


JANUARY 15, 1846 JOURNAL ADVERTISEMENT FOR NICHOLAS H. SHEPHERD 

On May 7, 1846, the Journal reported on visits of N. H. Shepherd, daguerreotype artist, to Decatur, Bloomington and places in northern part of Illinois.


MAY 7, 1846 JOURNAL REPORT ON NICHOLAS H. SHEPHERD’S VISITS TO DECATUR, BLOOMINGTON AND NORTHERN PART OF STATE

On May 28, 1846, Shepherd advertised in the Springfield Register that his Springfield Daguerreotype Gallery was over the drug store of J. Brookie.


MAY 28, 1846 REGISTER ADVERTISEMENT FOR NICHOLAS H. SHEPHERD’S SPRINGFIELD DAGUERREOTYPE GALLERY

On January 1, 1847, Shepherd advertised in the Register that his Springfield Daguerreotype Miniature Rooms were located over the drug store of H. R. Pomeroy at the Northwest Corner of the Public Square.


DECEMBER 25, 1846 REGISTER ADVERTISEMENT FOR NICHOLAS H. SHEPHERD’S RETURN

Gibson Harris, a young law office clerk with the Lincoln and Herndon firm who twice escorted Mary Todd Lincoln to balls when Abraham was unable to attend and who had once roomed with Nicholas Shepherd at Springfield, wrote that late in 1848 he had received a letter from Albion, Illinois, telling him that his photographer friend and room-mate was about to start for California. Harris never heard from Shepherd again. He believed that perhaps Shepherd had lost his life on the Overland Trail.

On June 20, 1850, the Springfield Journal newspaper published a letter from Sacramento, California stating that former Springfield residents in the area were well, some were looking for gold, and “Shepherd the daguerreotypist, was merchandising there…”

The 1880 Census for Wheatland, Yuba County, California listed Shepherd as a 58-year-old, married “farmer.” He was born in New York in 1822, and his parents were also born in New York. Wheatland, population of approximately 1,631, is situated in Yuba County at the northeastern edge of California’s vast central Sacramento Valley. It is located 34 miles north of Sacramento and 107 miles north of San Francisco. Wheatland is located at the gateway of California’s “Mother Lode” gold rush country. In 1846, the survivors of the ill-fated Donner Party were brought to the Johnson Ranch after being rescued. Johnson’s Ranch was the first settlement reached in California by wagon trains using the Overland Emigrant Trail.


Preston Butler

Preston Butler’s Photograph of the South Side of the Square Circa 1858 Showing the Roof Top Sign Advertising His Gallery

Preston Butler was born on September 11, 1822 in Margate, Kent, England. He was listed in the 1840 Census as living in Carlinville Township, Macoupin County, Illinois. On May 15, 1843, a marriage license issued in De Witt County, Illinois, was returned, showing the marriage of Preston Butler and Catharine Laughlin. Preston Butler is listed in the 1850 Federal Census as a resident of the Macon District, Macon County, Illinois.

Preston Butler is listed in the Decatur Illinois City Directory’s of 1854-1855, 1858-1859 and 1860. This is most likely the same Preston Butler listed in the Springfield, Illinois City Directory’s from 1857 to 1860.

The first evidence of Butler in Springfield is a report in the March 4, 1856, Springfield Journal that Butler, late of Decatur, had purchased W. T. Iles’ daguerreotype establishment on the South Side of the Square. He intended to make Springfield his permanent home.



March 4, 1856 Journal Announcement of Preston Butler Acquiring W. T. Iles’ Gallery

On April 8, 1856, a Register advertisement stated that Butler had rooms over Ruth’s New Building on South Side of Square for taking daguerreotypes and ambrotypes; "instruction given in Ambrotyping."


Register Advertisement Dated April 8, 1856 for Preston Butler’s Dauguerrian and Ambrotype Gallery

In the July 31, 1856 Journal, Butler announced that he had purchased the exclusive right to take and put up the Double Blass Ambrotype pictures.


Register Advertisement Dated April 8, 1856 For Preston Butler’s “Daguerreain and Ambrotype Gallery”

The 1857-1858 City of Springfield Directory listed Butler as a “daguerreotypist” on the South Side of the Square. His residence is listed as being on the east side Sixth Street, between Gemini and Reynolds Streets. His advertisement in that Directory is reproduced below.


1857-1858 City Directory Advertisement Dated September 26, 1857 For Preston Butler’s Premium Gallery

In a Register advertisement dated December 4, 1857, John G. Stewart advertised his Fine Art Gallery. He stated that he had acquired the Daguerrian Gallery formerly occupied by Preston Butler on the South Side of Square.


Register Advertisement dated December 4, 1857 For John G. Stewart’s Fine Art Gallery, Formerly Occupied by P. Butler

March 18, 1858 Journal Report of Robbery of Preston Butler’s Daguerrian Gallery

Another Robbery.----The daguerrean gallery of P. Butler, South side of the square, was entered on Tuesday night and robbed of the most of its valuable contents, consisting of camera and other articles used in the business also a number of cases, gold lockets etc., amounting in value to between $400 and $500. Two men visited the establishment in the afternoon of that day, professing to be engaged in the same business elsewhere, and it is supposed they are the rogues. The same parties visited Campbell & Cullom’s law office, situated on the floor below, and abstracted the Criminal Code, from which they doubtless wished __ themselves up in the law, in order to be prepared for any emergency. Thieving is becoming quite common in our midst and it behooves all to be on their guard.

In the 1859 and 1860 City Directory’s, Butler was listed as a “daguerreotype artist,” on the south side of Adams Street, between Fifth and Sixth Streets; third floor above T. S. Little’s clothing store; residence: south side of Sixth Street, between Gemini and Reynolds Streets.

1859 Preston Butler Photographs Abraham Lincoln


1859 City Directory Advertisement For Preston Butler


Daily Evening Independent, advertisement dated May 1859: Preston Butler’s Gallery.


Daily Evening Independent, Advertisement for Preston Butler’s Gallery Dated May 1859

There are several conventions for numbering Lincoln photographs.

The Meserve system was created by Lincoln collector and scholar Fredrick Hill Meserve and is denoted by the letter M followed by the photograph’s number.

Later, Lincoln artist and collector Lloyd Ostendorf re-cataloged all known Lincoln photographs with an updated system which uses the letter O followed by the photograph’s number. The Meserve and Ostendorf system use different catalog numbers. The principal advantage of the Ostendorf system is that it is more recent and, therefore, contains more photographs of Lincoln than does Meserve.

The Library of Congress catalog number begins with the letters LC.

Sources

I have used the books listed below by Lincoln photographic historians featuring collections of photographs of Abraham Lincoln. I have quoted the authors of these books providing their comments on each of the Springfield photographs in this book.

Lincoln His Life in Photographs, Stefan Lorant, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York, 1941. (Hereinafter referred to as “Lorant.”); Lincoln In Photographs, An Album of Every Known Pose, Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf, Morningside, Dayton, Ohio, 1985. (Hereinafter referred to as “Ostendorf.”); The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Hill Meserve, Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, 1944. (Hereinafter referred to as “Meserve.”); Lincoln: A Picture Story of His Life, Stefan Lorant, Harper & Brothers, (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1969); The Face of Lincoln, Compiled and Edited by James Mellon, A Studio Book, The Viking Press, New York, 1979. (Hereinafter referred to as “Mellon.”); The Lincoln Family Album, Mark E. Neely, Jr. and Harold Holzer, Doubleday, 1990; Lincoln, An Illustrated Biography, Philip B. Kunhardt, Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992. (Hereinafter hereinafter referred to as “Kunhardt.”); and Lincoln: A Pictorial History, Dr. Edward Steers, Jr., Thomas Publications, 1993.

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