This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Mr. & Mrs. Albee Turner of Albion, New York

06 May 2011

Here is another example of a popular sub-category in husband and wife carte de visite photographs - the musician and his spouse - Albee Turner and wife Mary Jane Turner from Albion, New York. This style of photo seems to record the subject's occupation and their pride in an artistic skill. This is certainly a family photo and not intended  for promotional advertising.
See a later period one at my post: 
Mr & Mrs. X from Meriden, CT 
With the clear names on the back of the cdv, and the mark:  Geo. P. Hopkins, Photographer, Albion, N.Y.  there are some very good clues for research.

George P. Hopkins was born in NY around 1815 and his occupation in the 1850 census was Joiner. But with a wife and 6 children, carpentry work may have had too little profit, and in the 1860 Albion NY census, he is a Daguarean Artist. He is found as a photographer in the 1862 tax records and a seller of pianos in  1866. By 1880, Hopkins moves his photography studio to Lockport, NY.

Albee Turner is Albert D. Turner, born in New Hampshire in 1839 and the son of a farmer in Clarendon, NY. Albion and Clarendon are in Orleans County, next to Lake Ontario. The name Albert Turner is frustratingly common, but amazingly the 1870 census shows him with Mary J. and his occupation: musician. They do not seem to have had children. A reference then popped up in an Orleans County history book, as Mary Jane's first husband, when she re-married and became Mrs. David  N. Pettingill.   Albee died in 1877.

Albee holds an unusual civil war era instrument, an over-the-shoulder E-flat cornet with top action rotary valves. This is the high instrument for brass bands of this time. Compare his instrument with a bell-up version in another photo: Soprano Saxhorn.

Albee's is similar to one found at the National Music Museum , and also this one from the website of the Excelsior Cornet Band, which is a New York authentic Civil War brass band specializing in musical performances on antique brass instruments. They have a wonderful website with lots of other photos and history, and notice that Mr. Hopkins used Excelsior as his motto too.

When the civil war began in 1861, the number of military bands was expanded by Congress, and by 1862 there were 26 regular regimental bands and as many as 213 volunteer bands in the Union Army. A report that year gave the average annual cost of $9,161.30 to maintain an artillery or cavalry band, and $13,139.40 for a larger infantry band, so it is no wonder that as the war dragged on, Congress made changes for economy and abolished the volunteer bands. Albee Turner was the right age to play in such a band, but his name is only on a New York draft record for 1863, and there is no Union army service record for him. But he certainly considered himself a professional by 1870.

The over-the-shoulder brass instruments. also called Saxhorns, were an important development in the early 19th century. They were designed so that the band could be at the head of the parade, and their sound went backwards toward the marching troops. I found this YouTube video of the  Federal City Brass Band out of Baltimore out of Baltimore, MD which demonstrates the effect. 

My contribution to Sepia Saturday


Bob Scotney said...

You've given us a beard, a quiff and a ladies dress with so much detail includihg a key(?) chain.
I particularly like your posts because of the extra detail you give us about the instruments and the people.
Great sepia post.

Brett Payne said...

What an interesting delve into this intriguing musical cabinet card. Quite apart from the musical history, which is new to me, I enjoyed reading your research into the musician. Thank ylu.

barbara and nancy said...

That instrument was new to me. Thanks for the history of it and also the military bands during the Civil War. I loved the video - who could not love a marching band? But where was the president? Does a band play "Hail to the Chief" when no president is around?

Christine H. said...

That is a fascinating and beautiful instrument. I so intrigued that it was designed so the music would go backwards. Great post.

Kristin said...

She looks pretty calm. He looks rather wild eyed.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you so much for your post! This is great. I wonder if the Mrs. happens to be in "a family way"? Just maybe.

I enjoyed learning about them, and of all of the history that you have given us.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend,

Kathy M.

Postcardy said...

Your research is very interesting.

I also think the man looks kind of wild-eyed. said...

I agree with @postcardy ... there's something wild (maybe even slightly sinister) about those eyes.

Little Nell said...

What a fascinating piece of historical research. A great photo. I can see why the other posters thought Albee wild-eyed, but I think he just isn't concentrating. He certainly isn't looking in the same direction as his wife, so perhaps he was daydreaming.

Rosie said...

I must say, the look in his eyes scares me!!!

Brett Payne said...

One of the main reasons why eyes so often look rather odd in old photographs is that the early photographic emulsions were not very sensitive to the colour blue. In order to correct for this, photographers would often retouch the portrait, either on the original glass plate negative or on the print itself. An inexpert or careless retoucher could end up creating some rather bizarre looks, and that may be what's happened in this case. It's difficult to tell without the original or a high resolution scan.

Howard said...

This is clearly a picture of Hugh Laurie, the actor who plays the crabby doctor 'House'. He is pictured with his glamorous Hollywood wife. Nice horn and fake beard too.

Alan Burnett said...

Spectacularly informative piece, both the images and the words. This is what I so enjoy about Sepia Saturday, thanks for helping to make it what it is.

Jeff Stockham said...

To Barbara and Nancy: President Lincoln is momentarily visible at the extreme right of the frame, at about 0:16 in the video. I was playing in that band and can vouch that he was definitely there. (He may have been portrayed by Jim Getty, I'm not sure.) However, "Hail to the Chief" is also played for other dignitaries, per the official protocol rules of the US Government. It is only the President, however, who is honored with THREE "Ruffles and Flourishes" prior to the actual playing of the tune.

MuseSwings said...

Your post is so interesting! Thank you for sharing so much detail! Exceptionally interesting.


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