Family Photos

Heinrich Arbeiter was born on March 8, 1858 in Ittlingen, Germany.  He arrived in America in 1872, and he was living in Red Bud, Illinois in 1880 with a Rowold.

Henry Arbeiter 1880 census
1880 census – Red Bud, Illinois

In that same year, Henry married Caroline Rowold who was born in Horse Prairie, Illinois, a small community just outside Red Bud.  It was also the place where Rev. Martin Stephan had ended up as pastor and is buried there.  One year later, this couple is having a son in Jacob, Illinois, a town just across the river from Perry County.  Between 1881 and 1899, nine children were born into this family.  Henry was a farmer.

Now on to what I really want to discuss in this post… photos.  In the course of my family research, I often run across some really great photos that have been taken of families.  Most of these photos are taken in a photography studio, with the family members all dolled up in their best clothes.  In almost all cases with these families, there seems to be only one family portrait to be found.  These photos must have been one of those “once in a lifetime” things for a family.  Not so with the Arbeiters.  In their case, I have managed to find two.  Here is the earlier one.

Henry Arbeiter family 2

The youngest Arbeiter was born in 1899, so this photo must have been taken sometime around 1903.

Next, a little side trip to talk about the photographer.  I have already found several photos from this era which have been take of Lutheran families in the Jacob, Illinois area that were credited to Dagle’s Studio in Murphysboro.  This photographer was Eugene Dagle.  Before becoming a photographer in Murphysboro, Eugene was a millwright, working in gristmills and sawmills, was a member of the Canadian Mounted Police, and a traveling photographer.  Then he settled in Murphysboro and became the “picture man” for that community for about 30 years.  He was a pioneer in several photographic techniques.  Ironically, I could not find a photograph of him.

Back to the photo:  I know what my wife would notice in this picture……the dresses worn by the females.  I don’t know if it was Caroline who was the seamstress, but someone must have used the same pattern for several of those dresses.  I cannot help but think of this photo of four of my granddaughters.  My photo speaks volumes about my wife.


When you think about photography in the old days, you might imagine how important it was to get it right the first time.  It was not a cheap proposition when a photographer punched the button to take a photo.  Mistakes were costly.  It wasn’t like we know it now.  We have gotten to the point with digital photography that we can instantly see the picture after it is taken, and if we don’t like it, we just try again.  The only major cost comes when you might decide to print them.  If you throw in the factor that it is difficult to get children to do what you want them to do in a photograph, it just adds to one’s amazement that these old photos came out looking as good as they did.

I found an individual photo portrait of Henry Arbeiter.

Henry Arbeiter

This one also carries the Dagle name.  However, I just am not convinced that this was taken at the same time as the previous photo.

Here is a later family photo of the Arbeiters.

Henry Arbeiter family

I believe the people in this photo are identified as follows:  Front row (left to right) – Anna, Henry, Rosa, Caroline, and Minnie.  Back row (left to right) – Herman, Friedrich, Caroline, Henry, Ernst, and Sophia.

There is no way to tell who the photographer is on this one.  However, if the individual photo of Henry was taken at the same time as this one, it may also be a product of Dagle Photography.  In the lower right, it says that it was taken “About 1906”.  In this photo, we see all the girls wearing dresses which are very light, and Mother wearing one which is very dark.  My experience with these old photos leads me to the conclusion that there must have been some unwritten rule that said the mothers must always wear dark dresses in family photos.

I know that at least the oldest son, another Henry, was already married by the time this photo was taken.

I love looking at these old photos, and I think there is so much we can learn from them.


5 thoughts on “Family Photos

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