Two Photographers of Hudson New York

Cornelia Hanson Taylor. 1882. Hudson, New York.
Cornelia Hanson Taylor. 1882. Hudson, New York.
Back of photograph of Cornelia Taylor Dakin. Handwritten mark of Frank Forshew, Hudson NY
Back of photograph of Cornelia Taylor Dakin. Handwritten mark of Frank Forshew, Hudson NY

Cornelia Hanson Taylor was 52 years old when she posed for this photograph on March 11, 1882. Noted on the back of the photo, in at least three different handwriting styles, is her name, her husband’s name, the exact date, the surname of the photographer and the location. Cornelia was 8 years younger than her husband so maybe this photograph was taken as a present for his 60th birthday. The photo in our possession is small, measuring at 2-1/2″ wide by 4″ long. The photographic image has been pasted on to a stiff paper backing. The image is starting to fade away.

On this Workday Wednesday, rather than focus on the occupation of one of our ancestors, I had in mind a look at two professional photographers of the late 1800s who photographed my husband’s ancestors. It is their work, like the work of many other less famous professional photographers, which enables some of us to continue to look back at the actual images of long deceased ancestors who lived in the mid to late 1800s. We take photography for granted now in the age of digital imaging and we forget what an art it was in the early days. The photographer not only needed skill to pose someone so that they would look their best in the portrait, but they also needed technical skills to take the picture and develop it. As equipment and techniques were changing rapidly, even back then, photographers like Francis Forshew (1827 – 1895) of Hudson, New York had to learn to master daguerrotypes, tin types, and carte de visites in order to keep current with technology and trends. Forshew became quite well known during his career and people were willing to come long distances to have him take their portrait. His studio was on Warren Street, Hudson, NY, which is also where Dakin’s store was located so no doubt they knew each other well. We have a copy of a daguerrotype of Henry W. Dakin and now I’m wondering if the original copy has a Forshew studio stamp on it? I’ll have to track down who has the original.

Fortunately Forshew had a photograph taken of himself so we can see what he looked like. This photo was available in a Wikipedia article as a common domain so I am able to post it on this blog. I’d love to know if he took the photo himself using a timing device or if another photographer snapped the shot. If the latter it could have been taken by his associate, Captain Volkert Whitbeck, who was no slouch in the photography arena either. 

Photographer Francis Forshew. Photograph in the common domain.
Photographer Francis Forshew. Photograph in the common domain.

When Forshew decided to get out of the business in the 1890s he sold his photography studio to Whitbeck, who was another Hudson city native. Whitbeck had joined Forshew in his photography business in 1863 after serving and being discharged from the Union Army.

Volkert Whitbeck took this lovely photograph of Cornelia’s granddaughter, Cornelia “Nina” Dakin, when she was 2-3/4 years old. The photo was taken on August 13, 1891. Her parents Augusta Heal and John B. Dakin may have been in Hudson on an extended family visit as John’s father Henry Wicks Dakin passed away less than a month later.

Cornelia "Nina" Dakin. August 13, 1891. V. Whitebck Photographer. Hudson, NY
Cornelia “Nina” Dakin. August 13, 1891. V. Whitbeck Photographer. Hudson, NY
Back of photograph of NIna Dakin. 1891. V. Whitebeck Studio. Successort to Forshew.
Back of photograph of NIna Dakin. 1891. V. Whitbeck Studio. Successor to Forshew.

In this portrait Nina’s white dress is quite exquisite, however the first thing I noticed was that someone really butchered her bangs! Or maybe she decided to take scissors to them herself as many children have been known to do. The studio added a border of leaves, a vase of flowers, and a bird perched on a small branch. Nina appears to be quite accustomed to having her portrait taken. She is poised and confident, two traits among many equally wonderful qualities she retained her entire life.  

Today’s blog entry is inspired by the genealogical blogging prompt “Workday Wednesday.”  This prompt has been suggested by Denise Spurlock of the Denise’s Life in the Past Lane and Reflecting on Genealogy blogs © 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee.

2 thoughts on “Two Photographers of Hudson New York

  1. I am guessing that Volkert Whitbeck of Hudson NY was in some way related to ME! My second great grandpa, Stephen M. Whitbeck, was born in Hudson Feb 1835. Interesting blog.


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