Enfield, NH Shaker Stereoviews and the Photographers Who Published Them
At the Enfield Shaker Forum in April 2018, Enfield Shaker Museum mounted an exhibit of about 140 stereoviews (also called stereographs) in the Meeting Room on the second floor of the Great Stone Dwelling. The exhibit proved to be very popular with visitors and was on view through November 2021. Although nothing can match the “Wow” factor of seeing such an extensive collection of images, we present the exhibit here for those who cannot see it in person.
The goal of this project was to locate one of every single stereoview taken at the Enfield, New Hampshire Shaker community. And equally important, we wanted to identify the photographers and learn a lot more about them—not only to help us date the stereoviews, but also because we feel that it is important for us and for our museum visitors to go beyond the images themselves and learn about the people who created them. Altogether, we identified seven photographers who made stereoviews at the Shaker community here from about 1870-1895.
We did not succeed in locating all the stereoviews taken at Enfield, as we had hoped to do, and that’s why there are some gaps below. We did locate some glass plate negatives for which a published stereoview has not yet been found, and they are printed with black borders below.
Stereoviews below are arranged chronologically by photographer and then displayed chronologically within each photographer.
NOTE: To view full-size stereoviews, click on the orange caption under each thumbnail image below.
William Wirt Culver (1834-1927)
William Wirt Culver, son of James Madison and Sarepta (Child) Culver, was born February 28, 1834 in Royalton, Vermont.
At the age of 21 in 1855, Culver borrowed money to go to Boston, where he studied art with portrait painter Alexander Ransom, himself a native of Hartland, Vermont. Culver recollected later that his instruction was valuable and of great assistance throughout his life, but with the advent of photography, there was no call for works of art except by artists with an established reputation. In the summer of 1860, he secured a position in Montgomery, Alabama as a water color artist and assistant in the studio of Archibald Crossland McIntyre, who is identified in Memorial Record of Alabama (1893) as “pre-eminent in Alabama as a photographic artist”. On 18 February 1861, Montgomery was the site of the inauguration of former U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States on America. Culver, in his role as McIntyre’s assistant, took the only known photograph of the inauguration. After the war, Culver was employed as a water colorist in the studio of Woodstock portrait photographer Seth Franklin Sterlin. Cartes de visite from their studio are printed on the reverse “S. F. STERLIN Photographer W. W. CULVER Colorist WOODSTOCK, VT.
W. W. Culver established his own business as a photographer in Blodgett’s Block on North Park Street in Lebanon, New Hampshire, while living across the Connecticut River in nearby White River Junction, Vermont. At the time of his marriage to Joanna Morey of Lebanon, which took place in Boston on 28 January 1868, he listed his occupation as a “photographer”. The New Hampshire Business Directory (October 1870) lists Culver as a photographer doing business in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The Vermont Register for 1872 and 1873 lists him as a photographer doing business in Royalton, Vermont. He sold his business and, evidently, his glass plate negatives, to Ephraim T. Brigham of Dover, New Hampshire about 1870. On the birth record of his daughter Calma Louise Culver (30 May 1874), he gave his occupation as a “Station Agent”.
For the majority of his life, W. W. Culver lived and worked in West Lebanon, New Hampshire as an artist and painter. In the 1880 U.S. Census, he described himself as an “artist (scenic)”; in 1900, a “house painter”, and in 1910 an “artist, sign and scenery painter”. A set of signed stage scenery still survives in the Town House in Enfield Center. In addition, he is known to have written and staged several plays.
William Wirt Culver died on September 3, 1927 at the Eastern Star Home in Royalton, Vermont, with the distinction of being both the oldest Mason in the State of Vermont in age (93) and in term of years (72).
Horace Merrill Pattee (1828-1874)
Horace Merrill Pattee, son of Moses D. and Hannah (Huse) Pattee, was born April 28, 1828 in Canaan, New Hampshire. His great-grandparents were Captain Asa and Mehitable (Jewett) Pattee, who with their family, joined the Shakers in Enfield, New Hampshire in 1783 and remained in the faith for about two years. During the 1840’s, however, his parents separated and by 1848 his father had remarried and started another family.
When the 1850 U.S. Census was taken, in September 1850, both Horace and his younger brother Daniel were living at the Enfield Shaker community, Horace as a tailor and Daniel as a cooper. In the 1860 U.S. Census, Horace was working as a farm hand in Hampshire, Kane County, Illinois. During the Civil War, he was living in Enfield and described himself as a “mechanic” on the “Consolidated List of All Persons Subject to Military Duty” for Grafton County, New Hampshire in June 1863.
Horace Pattee began his photography business in Enfield in the late 1860’s, about the same time that W. W. Culver began his photography business in nearby Lebanon. The New Hampshire Business Directory (both April 1868 and October 1870) lists Pattee as the only photographer doing business in Enfield. While in Enfield, he published his own original images both of the town and of the Shaker community. His business evidently did not prosper because the “Mirror and Farmer”, a newspaper in Manchester, New Hampshire, reported on December 12, 1870, “A. W. [H. M.] Pattee, of Enfield, has sold the building in which his photograph rooms are located to Smith, Burham & Choate, who will occupy it as a store and tin shop.”
Shortly after selling his building in Enfield, Pattee relocated his photography business to Claremont, New Hampshire. Although there were already two other photographers doing business in Claremont, its larger population (4,053 in 1872), compared to that of Enfield (1,662 in 1872), undoubtedly attracted him. In any case, he began to publish stereoviews in what he called the “American Views” series, images taken in and around Claremont.
Horace Merrill Pattee died in Enfield, New Hampshire in 1874, at the age of 46. It is not known if his negatives were sold or given to another photographer. Four of his original glass plate stereoview negatives are included in the George E. Fellows Photographic Negative Collection at Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College.
Ephraim Thomas Brigham (1813-1895)
Ephraim Thomas Brigham, son of Thomas and Mary W. (Lacy) Brigham, was born June 9, 1813 in Colebrook, New Hampshire.
Like many rural girls and boys of his generation, Ephraim Brigham went to Lowell, Massachusetts to find work. In 1843, he married one of the Lowell mill girls, Sophronia Ann Langley of New Market, New Hampshire. The couple rented a small house in the center of the city and he subsequently took a job as a bookseller. In the 1847 Lowell Directory, he is listed under the name “E. T. Brigham” as a “daguerreotypist” at Wyman’s Exchange, a large four-story building still standing on Merrimack Street, the main thoroughfare in downtown Lowell. Due to his wife’s poor health, however, he gave up his business and moved to Exeter, New Hampshire to be near her family. At the time of the 1850 U. S. Census, in August 1850, Ephraim Brigham had re-established his business as a “daguerreotypist” in Dover, New Hampshire. In the Dover Directory for 1865, Brigham is listed as a “photographic artist” doing business on Central Square in Dover.
In 1866, E. T. Brigham began a series of moves, evidently seeking a stronger market for his work as a photographic artist than he had found in Dover. The Lowell Directory for 1866 and 1868 shows that he returned to Merrimack Street in Lowell, the Dover Directory places him back in Dover from 1869 to 1871, and The New Hampshire Business Directory for 1872 lists him as working in both Dover and Laconia. About 1871, Brigham purchased W. W. Culver’s Lebanon photography business, along with his glass plate negatives, and in 1872 and 1873, he appears to have worked exclusively in Lebanon and the surrounding towns.
The Directory of Lebanon, N. H. for 1873 contains the following listing:
“Brigham E. T., photographic rooms, Blodgett’s blk, North Park, bds Green”
While in Lebanon, Brigham expanded his offering and began to produce stereoscopic views, at first pasting images taken from Culver’s glass plate negatives on the reverse side of Culver’s unused stereoview cards and later producing his own images that he pasted on his own cards. His views include local scenes, private residences, and the Shaker village in Enfield. About 1874, he sold the business, as well as his glass plate negatives (and possibly W. W. Culver’s glass plate negatives), to Charles E. Lewis of Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Ephraim Thomas Brigham died in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire on October 26, 1895, at the age of 82.
Charles Everett Lewis (1844-1921)
Charles Everett Lewis, son of Silas and Lois (Colby) Lewis, was born January 4, 1844 in Northfield, Vermont.
In late 1870 or early 1871, Charles and his older brother Edwin moved from Vermont to Lebanon, New Hampshire and opened a photography business under the name “Lewis Brothers”. For the first year or two, the business operated from a traveling studio in a railroad car, with the studio at one end and the family’s living quarters at the other end. The rail car was parked on East Park Street on the Common in Lebanon, near the site of the present Lebanon Public Library. By 1873, Edwin had evidently had enough of either the photography business or the rail car. In any case, he departed for Texas, leaving the business to his brother Charles.
The Directory of Lebanon, N. H. for 1873 contains the following listing:
“LEWIS C. E., photographic rooms, east of Common, h Hanover, see adv page 20”
The listing, quite similar to the listing for E. T. Brigham, confirms that there were now two photographers doing business in Lebanon. Unlike Brigham, Lewis paid for a prominent advertisement in the 1873 directory and included among his offerings “Stereoscopes and Views”, which is the first time that they were advertised for sale in a Lebanon directory.
About 1873, probably as a result the competitive situation in Lebanon, as well as the Panic of 1873, Ephraim T. Brigham sold his photography business, along with his glass plate negatives (and whatever remained of W. W. Culver’s glass plate negatives) to Charles E. Lewis. Lewis’ new studio was located in the Blodgett Block on North Park Street on the Common in Lebanon, where the Mascoma Savings Bank building now stands. The New Hampshire Register for 1874 lists him as the only photographer in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Like E. T. Brigham, Lewis’ first Shaker stereoscopic views were produced using images printed from existing glass plate negatives taken by his predecessors, which he later supplemented with his own photography.
In the late 1870’s, Lewis produced a large set of his own stereoview images in a taller “cabinet” size that feature both Church and South families at Enfield Shaker village. These were his last Shaker stereoviews. Lewis was also a very fine portrait photographer and he focused on this work for the balance of his career. Many of his cabinet-sized images taken of Enfield Shakers in the 1880’s survive. About 1887, Lewis was elected a Water Commissioner for the Town of Lebanon and turned his photography business over to his nephew, George R. Lewis.
Charles Everett Lewis died in Lebanon, New Hampshire on November 22, 1921, at the age of 77.
Willis Gaylord Clark Kimball (1843-1916)
Howard Algernon Kimball (1845-1929)
Willis Gaylord Clark Kimball, son of William Hazen and Sara M. (Cate) Kimball, was born June 4, 1843 in Manchester, New Hampshire. His brother, Howard Algernon Kimball, was born June 20, 1845 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
William H. Kimball was one of the first in New Hampshire to set up a daguerreotype studio and, in 1850, combined first with his brother, Joseph L. Kimball, and later with his oldest son, Richard H. Kimball, to form a company in Concord that eventually became a large and successful photography business. About 1867, William H. Kimball was chosen to be the New Hampshire State Librarian and turned over the photography business to his younger sons, Willis and Howard. The Concord Directory for 1870, however, confirms that from the start, Willis was head of the firm as a “photographic artist” living in his own home, while Howard was employed by the firm as a “stereoscopic artist” boarding in someone else’s home. Among the exhibits in the 1870 New Hampshire Fair, Manchester’s Mirror and Farmer newspaper listed “fine photographs by W. G. C. Kimball, of Concord; [and] beautiful stereoscopic views by H. A. Kimball, who is soon coming to our city to take views.”
In 1871, Howard Kimball established his own company and produced the first of several series of stereoviews of the Canterbury Shaker community. In the October 1871 issue of The Shaker, the monthly journal published by the Mount Lebanon Shakers, the editor inserted the following: “NOTICE—Stereoscopic views of Shaker villages can be obtained by addressing James Irving, Troy, N. Y., and H. A. Kimball, Concord, N. H.” The New Hampshire Business Directory (April 1872 and January 1874) lists Willis Kimball under “Photographers” and Howard Kimball under “Stereographic Views”. By 1877, Howard returned to the family firm, where he continued to be involved with the Shakers.
About 1881, Howard and/or his brother Willis made a series of views at Enfield Shaker Village very similar in nature to the Canterbury images. The Enfield series of stereoscopic views were the last Shaker stereoviews taken by the Kimball firm. The 1880’s saw the rise of huge stereographic enterprises like Keystone and Underwood & Underwood and the demise of small-town stereographers.
However, the Kimball family studio on Main Street in Concord, New Hampshire would continue to flourish, past the deaths of Willis Gaylord Clark Kimball in Concord on December 30, 1916 and Howard Algernon Kimball in Concord on September 25, 1929. When at last the firm passed out of the family, the Kimball glass plate negatives were taken to the Concord dump on the advice that such things were “worthless”.
5. Looking SE at Enfield, NH Shaker Village
Photograph by W.G.C. Kimball, Concord, NH.
6. Looking South at Enfield, NH Shaker Village
Photograph by W.G.C. Kimball, Concord, NH.
15. North Family at Enfield, NH Shaker Village
Photograph by W.G.C. Kimball, Concord, NH.
Frank Carroll Churchill (1850-1912)
Frank Carroll Churchill, son of Benjamin Pixley and Susannah (Thompson) Churchill, was born on August 2, 1850 in West Fairlee, Vermont.
He moved to Lebanon, New Hampshire in 1870 to be bookkeeper and general manager for the H. W. Carter Wholesale House of Notions. In 1877, under the name of Carter and Churchill, the firm began to manufacture their own line of shirts, coats, and overalls, which developed into the largest plant of its kind in New Hampshire, running 75 machines and employing 100 people. While engaged as a travelling salesman for the company until about 1891, he visited nearly every state in the Union. He served as a delegate to the Republican national convention in 1888, chairman of the New Hampshire State Republican Committee in 1890-91, and a representative from Lebanon in the state legislature for 1891-92.
About this time, his photographs of Enfield, Mascoma Lake, and the Shaker community began to appear in local publications. He was evidently also an amateur stereographic artist. In 1897, a newspaper in Bradford, Vermont reported, “WEST FAIRLEE CENTER. Prof. Morse assisted by Col. F. C. Churchill of Lebanon, will give a stereoptican exhibition this Friday evening at the church for the benefit of the church repairing fund.”
In 1899, Frank C. Churchill was appointed by the Secretary of Interior as revenue inspector for the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), charged with overseeing permits and payments for cattle, hay, timber and coal. In 1901, he was asked to report on the creation of a system of taxation to provide free public schools in the Indian Territory. (He proposed the elimination of all tribal taxes; the discontinuance of boarding schools; and the establishment of public school districts for all children in the Territory.) In 1905, he was appointed to report on the condition of the schools and reindeer herds in the Alaskan Territory. (He vigorously opposed the fact that both the schools and reindeer herds were controlled by missionaries, instead of by the natives themselves.) Upon his return, he was reappointed as Indian inspector. In 1908, he advised on the location of a Chippewa Cree Reservation in Montana and compiled a census of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribe in North Carolina. He resigned his position in 1909 due to failing health.
Churchill’s field reports, journals, and many photographs of the Cherokee people in Indian Territory, the native inhabitants in Alaska, and the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico are held by the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC and other museums in the U.S.
In 1912, he was president of the Mascoma Savings Bank, chairman of the Board of Education, and town moderator–all in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Frank Carroll Churchill died on November 5, 1912 at his home in Lebanon, New Hampshire at the age of 62.
Special thanks to the institutions and collectors who made scans of their Enfield Shaker stereoviews available for use in this exhibit.
Note: Some lenders have asked not to have their stereoviews published on the internet. However, since 2018 we have located quite a few new stereoviews, so this online exhibit (above) is larger than, and not precisely the same as, the exhibit on view in the Meeting Room.
Enfield Shaker Museum
447 NH Rt 4A
Enfield, NH 03748