Ralph and Dossie Rogers Historic Image Collection

The Ralph and Dossie Rogers Historic Image Collection consists of 19th and 20th century images from the Cross Timbers area of Central Texas, including but not limited to Erath, Hamilton, Hood, Somervell, Palo Pinto, Comanche, and Eastland Counties.

Ralph (1886-1969) and Dossie Gilbreath Rogers (1901-1991) preserved hundreds of photographic prints and negatives, including a large number of (negatives) copies of photographs of prominent people, businesses, homes, schools, churches, and groups. Ralph learned photography in 1905 from his brother-in-law, J. F. Edmonds. Ralph and Dossie had their own photography business, and acquired photographic images from the J. F. Edmonds’ studio after his death. Today, Tom Rogers, son of Ralph and Dossie, continues to be most generous in sharing this extensive collection of photographs and negatives accumulated by his family’s longtime photography business.

About 1100 additional prints and negatives from the collection were scanned for the Cross Timbers Historic Images Project, Ralph and Dossie Rogers Collection

ERATH COUNTY PHOTOGRAPHERS

by Thomas Ralph Rogers, April 2004; revised June 2005, January 2008, and September 2014

In 1880 George Eastman began commercial production of dry plates for photography in Rochester, N.Y. This revolutionized photography in that the plates used to make negatives could be made in a factory and shipped to remote areas of the continent. Previously the light-sensitive emulsion had to be prepared and applied to a glass pane within 10 minutes of its use. The dry plates were more sensitive and more stable. So far as we know, there were no photographers in Erath County before 1880. Tintypes, which were direct positive images, were available at low cost, but they were less satisfactory and there was only one copy of each photograph.

Photography became the high-tech occupation of its time, attracting intelligent young men who could get a working knowledge of optics, chemistry, and art without formal higher education. It still required a rather expensive portrait camera, a darkroom, and a skylight to provide natural light in the absence of powerful electric lights. Photographic studios (photo parlors) were often on the second floor of a two-story building.

This revolution in photography occurred about the same time commercial agriculture was brought to Erath County by windmills, barbed wire, and the Texas Central Railroad. The windmills provided water where there was no creek or spring, the barbed wire kept the livestock out of the fields, and the railroad provided transportation of the food and fiber to markets. The population of Erath County grew from 11,796 in 1880 to 29,966 in 1900.

O’BRIEN – Dr. Jesse G. O’Brien (1851-1918) may have been the first photographer in Dublin. He moved to from GA to Dublin in Sept. 1877, the third physician to settle there. In 1881 he started and edited the first newspaper in Dublin, the Enterprise. Henry Birchmore, the druggist, was one of the printers. Dr. O’Brien also owned the Dublin Drug and Grocery House in the early 1880s, situated in the building where the Dublin National Bank located when it was formed in 1892. In 1888 W.H. Wiseman leased the O’Brien photo gallery in the rear of Henry Birchmore’s Drug Store. An 1895 directory lists Dr. O’Brien as “Chief of Fire Department”. A picture taken in the late 1890s shows an infirmary operated by Dr. O’Brien upstairs over his Star Drug Store. It was located across from Foust Lumber Co. on E. Elm St. J. Ralph Rogers bought some of Dr. O’Brien’s photographic equipment from his estate after his death. Bob Traweek of Dublin has a picture of his father's family with the names and date on the back --1901. It has Star Photography and Dublin Texas on the front of the cardboard mount. Could this have been Dr. O’Brien’s business?

WILLIAMS – The Dublin Enterprise of 28 May 1884 advertised “Professor Williams Photography Gallery”.

BAKER – Dublin before 1900. Baker’s imprint says “PATRICK STREET IN LEGGETT BUILDING”. We have a Baker cabinet card of Arch and Frances Prater that could be their wedding photo, 24 Nov. 1897. No Baker is listed as a photographer in the 1900 census of Erath County.

WISEMAN – The Dublin Progress of 1 Sept. 1888 reported, “W.H. Wiseman, a Hico photographer has now settled in Dublin. He has leased the O’Brien gallery and opened up in the rear of Henry Birchmore’s Drug Store. He comes well recommended as a photographer and as a gentleman.” In 1895 Birchmore’s store was on Elm St., near Patrick St. Also in 1888, the studio was known as Wiseman & McMullen Studio The Progress of 16 Feb. 1889 advertised, “Wiseman & Jones will take your photographs and guarantee them to be first class. Call on them in the rear of Henry Birchmore’s Drug Store. The Progress of 15 Jan. 1892 carried a small advertisement for Wiseman Photo Parlor. This would have been William Henderson Wiseman, Jr., born in NC about 1870. His parents and three children were listed in the 1880 census in Johnson Co., TX. W.H.,Sr. was a farmer in 1880. A fourth child, Charles, was born in Sept. 1880. In 1894, the younger W.H. Wiseman’s wife and baby daughter died in Dublin. In 1899, he remarried, probably in Illinois. We have a photograph dated April 3, 1894, by “Wiseman, Photographer, Dublin, Texas”. He died in Illinois in 1935. Grady Perry, in Grand Ol’ Erath, reproduced the Erath County section of The Texas State Gazeteer and Business Directory, published by R.L. Polk & Co. about 1895. It says that Dublin has “a good photograph studio”. Wm. H. Wiseman was the only photographer listed. A “Home-Seekers Guide” published in 1895 by the D.M. Anderson Directory Co. in Dallas listed only Wm. H. Wiseman. An imprint from ca 1889 says OVER DUBLIN NICKEL STORE. W.H. Wiseman, Sr. (1829-1911), came to Hico in 1886 and opened the Wiseman Studio there. His son, Rufus Frank Wiseman (b. 1874 in SC), took over the Hico Studio in 1893. W.H. Wiseman, Sr., died in San Antonio in 1911. Frank died in Hico in 1954. This information was obtained from the research of Glenda Stone.

The U.S. DE CUBA PHOTO STUDIO – About 2005 or 2006 a cabinet card photo was offered on E-Bay with the imprint “The U.S. de Cuba Photo Studio, Dublin, Texas”. The border was lined with tiny U.S. flags in color. Perhaps the photographer had some connection with the Spanish-American War. I have seen photograph with this imprint.

BUCKINGHAM – Buckingham imprints on cabinet cards are not uncommon. The 1900 census listed Floyd Buckingham, age 22, whose occupation was “Photography”. He lived with his parents, George and Annie Buckingham. George was the agent for the Ft W and RG Railway. Three younger children also lived in the household.

LENOX – John W. Lenox (b. Nov. 1850 in MO) was a photographer in Stephenville in the 1890s. He had newspaper advertisements until the latter part of 1909. He was listed in the 1900 and 1910 censuses, occupation photographer, but was not in the Erath Co. census of 1920.

J.M. BAXLEY – We have two nice cabinet cards with the imprint “J. M. Baxley”. This was Josiah Mancel “Jobie” Baxley, who was a photographer in Dublin in the 1890s. He was born 5 Oct 1869 in Marble Valley, Coosa Co., AL, the son of William Presley Baxley (1844-1931) and Roxanna Allen (1845-1869). The mother died about two weeks after the birth, and the father married Roxanna’s sister, Alice Allen. This couple had eleven more children born between 1872 and 1895. Alice died in 1903, and the father married Martha Savannah Dykes in 1904. They had five more children and survived into the 1930s, raising at least fourteen of the children to produce grandchildren. Most of them stayed in Alabama. Jobie, whose mother died when he was two weeks old, married Lila Bazemore in Nov. 1893. Their first child was born in Coosa Co., Alabama, where Jobie’s father had been born 50 years earlier. Their next two children were born in 1897 and 1898 in – Dublin, Erath Co., TX. Then history was repeated when Lila died after giving birth to Eva Poe Baxley in 1898. Jobie remarried in Dublin 9 June 1901, but they were in Anson in Oct. 1902, when the next child was born. Thus Jobie entered the photography business in Dublin between 1894 and 1897 and left between June 1901 and October 1902. By 1910 Jobie was a farmer in Jones County with seven children.

KING N. BAXLEY – William Presley Baxley’s sixth child with Alice Allen was King Nebraska Baxley (1880-1960), born in Coosa Co., Alabama. By 1904 King was in Dublin, TX, with a photo parlor. He married Mary Alameda Trice (1885-1965) in Lingleville 6 Jan 1904. His photograph studio was upstairs over Hamilton’s store on Patrick St., probably the same site where his half brother had been. In June, 1900, King was still working as a farm laborer with his family in Coosa Co., Alabama. Could he have gone to Texas in time to learn photography before Jobie left for Anson?

About 1909 he moved his business to Stephenville. The Baxleys were enumerated as residents of Dublin in the 1910 census. I remember visiting them with my father in their Stephenville studio in the 1940s. It was located on the second floor of a building on the south side of College St. ½ block west of the Court House. A fire destroyed his negatives in the late 40s or early 50s, and the Baxleys sold out to Millers in 1956. Grady Perry, on p. 42 of Grand ‘Ol Erath, describes Baxley’s travels throughout the County making school pictures about 1905-1920. An Edna Hill school group made in the 1908-1909 school year is imprinted “Baxley Dublin Tex”. Mr. Perry wrote, “King was a natural entertainer, and had once been a clown in a big circus.”

WEICHSEL BAXLEY (1909-1953), son of King and Mary Baxley, had a photograph studio on the ground floor on the West side of the Courthouse square in the 1940s until his death. He married Marjie Alec Brown (1908-1991) in 1938. She taught art at Tarleton State University and Bax and Marjie owned an art studio.

THOMPSON – The Thompson Photo Studio was in Dublin before 1900. A photograph made about 1900 shows its sign on the second story above the Utterback and Harris department store. J.F. Edmonds bought the studio when he moved to Dublin in 1902. Guy Thompson, photographer, is listed in the 1900 census, b. July 1869 in TN, with his wife Ella, b. Apr. 1875 in AR, and dau. Alpha, b. Sept. 1899. They lived next door to the Shugart family.

EDMONDS – J.F. Edmonds (1871-1948), a native of Duffau and veteran of the Spanish American War, learned photography while he was in the U.S. Army. After his discharge in Jan. 1901, he operated a studio at Ilo Ilo, Panay, until December. He moved to Dublin in 1902 and bought the Thompson Studio, which he operated as Edmonds Studio for over 40 years. He later bought another studio, possibly from Buckingham, and operated both for an unknown time. In 1908 he moved his business one block north to the one-story Witcher Building. He made most of the portraits and school pictures in Dublin until about 1943. He taught photography to J. Ralph Rogers, A.Z. Price, L.A. “Berry” Shugart, Jesse Henley “Sweety” Tanner, and his daughter Donna Grace “Posey” Edmonds. Price taught Leonard Frost. Rogers, Price, Shugart, and Frost were itinerant photographers in Texas and Louisiana during the 1920s. Shugart’s son built a finishing plant in Levelland and sent camera crews over several states.

CASEY – Steve Casey, son-in-law of R.S. “Doc” Landers the pharmacist, was a skilled semi-professional photographer in Dublin in the 1930s. He used a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera and had his film processed at Edmonds Studio. The 1940 census showed his occupation as “drug clerk”. He joined the U.S. Navy early in WWII and did not return to Dublin after his discharge.

ROGERS – J. Ralph Rogers (1886-1969) learned photography from his brother-in-law, J.F. Edmonds, in 1906. He left Dublin in 1910 and worked in studios in Eastland and Dallas. He went to California about 1912 and worked in Los Angeles and San Francisco until 1918, when he joined the U.S. Navy. After boot camp, he worked as a cook until he was assigned to the Naval Flying Service, Photographic Division, at Miami Beach. After his discharge he returned to Texas and worked as an itinerant photographer in Texas and Louisiana through the 1920s. In 1928 he met Dossie Gilbreath (1901-1991), who was the sales representative for Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Frost. Ralph and Dossie started working together and married in 1930. They worked in Longview 1931-1936, then Lamesa 1937-1943. They moved to Dublin in June, 1943. Ralph took over Edmonds’ photography business in 1944 as Edmonds’ radio and appliance business was consuming most of his time. After WWII ended in August, 1945, Rogers opened a studio on Blackjack St., then moved the business twice. Ralph Rogers Photographs operated next door to the Early Knox barber shop from 1947 until his death in 1969. Dossie Rogers then learned to do darkroom work and made reprints and custom copies until the mid 1980s.

MILLER – The Miller family bought the Baxley Studio in 1956. The Miller Studio is still in operation (2004) at 240 West College St. in Stephenville. This is from their web site in 2014: “Miller Studio was first established in 1956 by Manuel Miller, and in 1977 his daughter Joan Livingston took over and has been in business ever since. In 2006, Cassandra Thompson started working with Joan while attending Tarleton, and after graduating decided to continue working at Miller Studio while free-lance writing on the side.”

GRAUKE – Mrs. M.C. (Inez) Grauke learned to retouch negatives and tint prints from Ralph Rogers in 1943. In the 1950s she retouched for five major studios and two minor studios, six of these at one time. She then worked in a commercial printing service lab for amateur photographers. She had many classes, private lessons, workshops, and seminars in all areas of photography. She and her husband opened their first studio in Hubbard, TX, in 1964. They operated Grauke Photography in Dublin from 1965 until 1986. Mr. Grauke died 5 Mar. 2002 and Mrs. Grauke died 13 Jan. 2008.

STEPHEN – Virginia and Merrill Stephen bought Wayne D. Scott’s studio in DeLeon in 1960. They moved the business to Dublin (105 S. Patrick St.) on April 4, 1976. They closed in 1990.

OTHERS – Several other photographers have had studios in Dublin and Stephenville since 1970.



At a Glance