Who was Lavinia Patterson? I found a cabinet photograph of her in one of the boxes from my mother’s cousin. Written on the back, her name, the date and place. It wasn’t in one of the albums, just in an envelope with other pictures. She was a good looking girl with what I thought was an unusual haircut. She had very long hair hanging free with bangs and a short boy cut around her ears. Cutting or shaving some of one’s hair is a style seen now but in 1886?
The first clue was the photographer’s name and address. Barnett M. Clinedinst Sr and Jr had a studio in Baltimore from 1880 to at least 1891. Clinedinst Sr. began as an artist and turned to photography after the Civil War. He built up a prosperous business in Staunton, Virginia and later settled with his wife Caroline McFee and children in Baltimore. His son followed him into the business and they opened a studio in Washington DC where they photographed Presidents, military men and societie’s elite. Barnett Jr became the official White House photographer for three administrations. They were also innovators and were some of the first to use flash lighting.
Much information about the photographers exists but what about Lavinia? In an 1887 Erie PA directory, Lavinia B. Patterson, a student, lived at the corner of 7th and Sassafras, the same address as a Revered James G. Patterson of Park Church. Two years later Rev Patterson resigned as pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church of Erie. There was also a Lavinia and Anne Patterson going to a school in 1881 but so far no proof that either is this Lavinia.
This picture was with other photographs that had belonged to my great grandmother, Ida Girod Bruneau. Ida taught school in Baltimore before she married Ismael Bruneau in 1886. Was Lavinia one of her pupils saying goodbye to Ida, a favourite teacher?
The photograph was taken on June 8th 136 years ago.