1890: Andrew Stoutner Sr. poses for a photo

Sepia Saturday 509. Third in a new series on my maternal German ancestors — the Stoutners of Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

My maternal German immigrant great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner Sr. became the patriarch a large extended family in Gloversville, Fulton Co., N.Y.

Born on 29 Dec. 1832, Andrew immigrated circa 1855 when he was just 22.  He joined the wave of immigrants who left Germany seeking a better life in the years after the liberal 1848 revolution was defeated by conservative aristocracies.

Portrait from my family files of Andrew Stoutner Sr. (circa 1890). My great-great grandfather would have been about 58 years old when he sat for this photograph at the William H. Kibbe Photographic Studio in Johnstown, Fulton County, N.Y. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Andrew appears to have brought a technical skill set with him, since his occupation is listed as “mechanic – brick maker” in the 1860 federal census1of Johnstown, Fulton Co., N.Y. — and he continued as a brick maker in Berkshire, outside Gloversville, for the rest of his life.

Andrew poses for a photo

Somewhere around 1890, the advent of portrait photography and his success in his new home apparently prompted Andrew, 58, to have his photo taken at the William H. Kibbe Photographic Studio in Johnstown, N.Y.

Shown above is cabinet card photo of a handsome looking Andrew from my family collection. Below is the back of the photo, labeled “Andrew Sr.” in ink by his granddaughter — my maternal grandmother Elizabeth “Liz” (Stoutner) Laurence.

The other penciled notation “Stoutner 4 Wells St. Gloversville” was apparently made by the photo studio — and that’s where this story gets interesting.

Back of the portrait from my family files of Andrew Stoutner Sr. (circa 1890). Scan by Molly Charboneau

A tale of two Andrews

Inspired by Mister Mike, a fellow blogger and musical photo enthusiast, I decided to see what I could learn about the photographer.

William H. Kibbe, born in 1846, was a noted cabinet photographer who opened his studio in Johnstown, Fulton Co., N.Y. in 1871. He was so successful that he ended up owning the rather substantial Kibbe Building — alas, no longer standing — which is depicted on the back of the photo (above).

Kibbe’s photo, obituary and a brief biography appear on the Cabinet Card Photographers blog — and not only that. At the bottom of the page, as an example of his work, is a pristine rendition from Visual Studies Workshop (below) of the same photo of my great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner Sr.

Wow — what are the chances?

Visual Studies Workshop photo of Andrew Stoutner Sr. circa 1890. (front)
Visual Studies Workshop photo of Andrew Stoutner Sr. circa 1890, (back)

Setting the record straight

Of interest on the Visual Studies Workshop photo is the inserted “Wm.” above “Mr. Stoutner of Gloversville” on the back, implying that this is a picture of Andrew’s oldest son, William Stoutner. In fact, the VSW web page identifies the photo’s subject as “William Stoutnew.” So who is correct here?

My photo was labeled by my grandmother — who knew her grandfather well, having lived in the same house with him as a child — so I believe this is definitely a portrait of Andrew Stoutner Sr.

Moreover, if the photo was taken circa 1890, William Stoutner (b. 1862) would have been 28, while this is clearly the portrait of a much older man — and Andrew was 58 that year.

Perhaps Andrew had copies of the photo made for his children, and this was William’s copy. Or maybe it was mislabeled by the photographer. Or possibly one of William’s descendants made a “best guess” as to the subject of the photo — and that’s the copy that ended with the Visual Studies Workshop.

There’s no way to know for sure, but my takeaway is this: When researching family history, you need to look in the unlikeliest places. Had I not investigated the photographer, I would never have discovered a second digitized portrait of my great-great grandfather Andrew Stoutner Sr.

So, many thanks Mister Mike!

Up next: Andrew Stoutner’s first two wivesPlease stop back! Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

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10 thoughts on “1890: Andrew Stoutner Sr. poses for a photo”

  1. A great photo and story. I’m flattered that I inspired you to research Mr. Kibbe. I think it’s really interesting how small town photographers in the 19th century became the historians of record for their communities. With his long career Kibbe must have known hundreds of families after taking countless photos of marriages, children, anniversaries, etc. Since they usually sold the cabinet photos by the dozen, it’s not that surprising that there was a duplicate. But to find it featured on the internet is. I have a few photos I thought were unique but was astounded to discover a second photo on another blog.

    Ironically the Cabinet Card Photographers Blog is run by Any Jazz, a blogger who used to be a regular on Sepia Saturday.

    1. Thanks for the info on the Cabinet Card Photographers Blog. A shame he is no longer posting on Sepia Saturday. I have a few more Kibbe photos in my collection. Wonder if I will find matches for those?

  2. That’s the fun of the Sepia Saturday challenges. You never quite know what you’re going to find when you go searching for a photo or photos to match the prompt and share in your post – or what you’re going to learn along the way. Your 2x-great grandfather Andrew was a very nice looking fellow!

    1. Yes, I also think he was quite handsome. And you’re so right about Sepia Saturday. Those prompts get us going, and often with happy results!

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