Greene County Arkansas

Paragould, Arkansas

Centennial Edition Section 3

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Monday, August 29, 1983~Paragould Daily Press

 

Tintypes courtesy Ruba Crowley

 

Samuel Crowley, his sons Louis, age 8, and W. T. (Bill), age 10, and his wife Elizabeth.  
According to the family story that has been passed  down along with these rare tin-types, they
were made in 1868 by a traveling photographer at a country fair in Walcott. These itinerant
craftsmen provided the earliest photo images in the backwoods.

 

Pioneer photographers

Cameramen obscure

 

Because H. Ostrander often dated and identified his photographs by writing on the negatives, probably in India ink, we are able to date and identify those photographs and know at least one year when Ostrander's Gallery was in business--1892--But the other 19th century Paragould photographers weren't as helpful to 20th century researchers.

H. H. Sickles (or Sickels) may have been Green County's first resident photographer. He included himself in the Gainesville business directory, (shown on the previous page)

Unfortunately, that's all we know about the photographer and his work. And since his name is spelled two different ways on the one sheet, we can't even be sure about that significant detail. The directory was preserved by the descendants of Jonas Eaker, one of the other businessmen pictured. It is not dated. But the list, fortunately, includes three county officials who, according to the official roster of county officials, served concurrently only during the 1882-1884 term, making the business card right at 100 years old. The composite photograph was

  numbered and printed on photographic paper, while the list of names was printed on the mounting. Gainesville may have had other photographers before or after Sickles/Sickels.

But the only evidence is a hand-drawn map of 1891 Gainesille showing a photo studio labeled "Brown's Photo Gallery."

Before Sickles/Sickels, we have evidence only of the itinerant photographers who traveled the country fair circuit, providing tintypes such as those of the Crowley family shown on this page.

Several tintypes were brought to us, but few could be identified as to who they were and when they were taken. That's what makes the Crowley tintypes so remarkable. Not only are they identified--and as members of Greene County's pioneer family at that--but the story of where and when the images were made has also been passed down.

These traveling photographers may have provided Greene County's only picture images until Sickles/Sickels came on the scene. 

  It is not known when the first photographer located in Paragould, but it was probably during the town's earliest days.

The 1889 Goodspeed's history book lists "photograph galleries among the town's many businesses.

There may have even been a revolving door of photographers. As pictures came in for this issue, more and more photographers' imprints appeared. But in most cases, only the photographer's and the town's names printed on their cardboard picture mountings offer proof that these studios one operated here.

And that information is scant indeed:

  • "C.H. Feldman Paragould, Ark."
  • "C.W. Jackson Paragould, Ark."
  • "Smith's Studio Paragould, Ark."
  • "J. Thomasson photographer Malden and Dexter, Mo., and Paragould, Ark."
  • "Jackson & Co. Paragould, Ark."
  • "Photograph Gallery Paragould, Ark. W.R. McCrary, prop(rietor)

It is only through guessing at the ages of the people pictured, if we can identify them at all, that we can try to calculate when these now obscure photographers took these pictures.

C.H. Feldman's photographs appear to be the oldest because they are more yellowed. But many things besides time--exposure to sunlight being one--

 

Photographers page 2

 

Transcribed from the 1983 Centennial Edition by : PR Massey

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