Friday, March 9, 2012

Early Kalamazoo Photographers

After acquiring the photo album that I believe belonged to my great-great-grandmother, I naturally wanted to identify the individuals pictured or at least narrow down the time period. Several of the photographs bore the stamp of the photographer and sometimes the location or even the year. Most of them appeared to be from the late 1800s or very early 1900s. So began my quest to determine when the photographers practiced their trade. Some asking around by my mother in the Kalamazoo Public Library and at the Western Michigan University Archives didn't yield much information.

Perhaps you can benefit from my efforts. Below is a list of early Kalamazoo photographers based on information I found in city directories, census records and death records. There may be other Kalamazoo area photographers that I am not aware of.  Below the basic information about the photographer I have listed the address of the photographer's place of business as listed in city directories. Note that as I don't live in town, I only have access to a limited number of city directories.

Abbey, Lewis Clark: Lived 1838-1904. In business at least 1876-1900. Photographer in 1900 census in kazoo.
1876:  58 Main
1883: 301 E. Main
1887-1899: 303 E. Main

Austin, George W.: Lived 1864-1950. In business at least 1905-1920.
1905-1915: 134 S. Burdick

Beebe, Harry: Lived 1866-1900. In business 1896-1899/1900. He reportedly came to Kalamazoo toward the end of 1896 at which time he purchased the Wood photograph gallery.
1899: 134 S. Burdick

Billington, George E.: Lived ? In business at least 1905-1906. (one in 1930 in kazoo, born about 1873) (1872-1950, died at State Hosp, was farmer)
1905: 101 W. Main
1906: 102 N. Burdick

Bingham, Harry L.: Lived abt 1835 to ? (also listed as Henry) In business 1865 until at least 1873.
1867-1873: 112 Main

Brown, Henry A.: Lived 1851-?, In business at least 1880-1895
1883: residence corner Main and Battle Creek. Galesburg Village
1887-1889: 102 W Main
1891:  120 E. Main
1895: 128 W. Main, 3d floor,
1899: not in directory

Chamberlain, I.H.: Lived ? In business ?
1906: 112 E. Main

Chandler, Charles W.: Lived about 1873 to ? In business at least 1899-1906.
1899-1906: 128 W. Main

Dornbush, Henry G.: Lived 1878-1962. In business at least 1899-1915. Not a photographer in 1920 census.
1899-1915:  120 E. Main

Ford, Frank P.: Lived 1845-?, In business at least 1887-1900 (moved to Lenawee county by 1900)
1887-1895: 119 S Burdick
1899: not in directory

Gillis, Edwin:  Lived 1859-1912.  In business at least 1887-1889.
1887-1889:  101 W. Main (successor to Palmiter & Warrant) 

Packard, Cullen C.: Lived 1842-1898 (suicide). In business 1866 until at least 1888, in 1895 listed as photo shutter manufacturer. Kal. Telegraph indicates he was in photo business until his death.
1867: 137 Main
1873-1881: 103 Main
1883-1887: 120 E. Main

Packard, Mary H.: Lived 1846-1916. In business at least circa 1899. Wife of C.C. Packard. Not listed as photographer in 1900 census.
1899: 120 E. Main

Philley, Silas (Jr.): Lived 1846-1926. In business at least 1895-1900. Shoemaker in 1887 and again in 1920.
1895: 303 E. Main
1899: 305 E. Main
1900: in census as photographer

Reidsema, John M.: Lived 1864-1913. In business at least 1895-1905. He died in Detroit and was listed as retired.
1889:  103 E. Main
1895: 101 W. Main
1899-1905: 119 S. Burdick

Siewert, Herman: Lived about 1873-? In business at least 1899-1914
1899-1906: 101 W. Main
1907-1914: 414 W. Main

Stark, William L.: Lived 1830-1918 In business at least 1867-1880 (living in Calhoun Co, in 1880)
1867: 142 Main
1869: 29 N. Burdick

Stork, J.M.: Lived ? In business at least circa 1906.
1906: 103 E. Ransom

Van Sickle, Adolphus: Lived 1835- after 1900.  In business at least 1870-1900 (lived in Chicago in 1900)
1876: 108 Main
1881:  17 S. Burdick
1883: gallery 119 S. Burdick
1899: not in directory

Wood, Frank: Lived abt 1877-?  In business (he is not in 1887 or 1899 directories) Possibly child of Thomas E. Wood, 227 W. Vine was Thomas E. Wood's residence in 1895.
1895: 227 W. Vine.

Wood, Thomas E.: Lived abt 1840-?  In business at least 1887 to 1895. He is not in 1899 city directory.
1887-88:  316 E. Main
1889-1895: 134 S. Burdick St.


  1. Dear Sonja is the photo here of T E Wood form you album from your grandmother as T E Wood is a relative of my wife

    1. Yes, it is. I think there are a couple of his photos in my album.

  2. Thanks for your hard work! It makes finding the dates for my pictures much easier.