Man from Coldwater, Michigan

Click here to see it larger.

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) measuring 2.5 x 4.25 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is J. Tripp of Coldwater, Michigan.  (I believe that would be James Tripp.)  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


I have a feeling this gentleman is one of his community’s esteemed citizens.  Or at least he thinks he is.

6 comments on “Man from Coldwater, Michigan”

  1. a gentleman – no doubt. just ask his slaves… 😉

    • Yes, to our modern eyes he does look a bit like a stereotypical plantation owner. Actually, Michigan was one of the northern “Free States” that didn’t permit slavery, so while it’s possible he experienced slave ownership if he previously lived elsewhere, and while slavery would have existed in the US during his lifetime, he wouldn’t have been a slave owner while sitting for this photo (assuming he lived in the area where the photo was taken).

      • i had no idea, but i’m glad you told me.

        really, i hope you took no offence. i just tried to imagine where and when the gentleman was from, and then i cracked a dumb joke.

        believe me, slavery is alive and well even in my own country, today. in rome most of the sex workers are bought, sold and sometimes branded.

        on a lighter note: i so enjoy what you do! i hope you keep it up 😉

      • No, don’t worry, I wasn’t offended. 🙂 And it’s not as if the U.S. didn’t earn a bit of a reputation with its past. But I thought you might appreciate that bit of information. Also, I don’t know when the photo was taken, but slavery was outlawed in this country in the mid-1860s. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 (during the Civil War). It was an Executive Order declaring that slaves were free, but the Southern states that had already seceded felt it didn’t apply to them because they considered themselves part of a different country. Slavery was formally and effectively outlawed in 1865 with the passing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment (1868) formally established former slaves as full citizens, and the 15th Amendment (1870) gave them the right to vote. I say all this not to lecture you, but because you bring up an interesting point about viewing these old photos in their historical context. Just a few years in either direction may have radically affected what was going on in this man’s life when the photo was taken.

  2. My first impression on seeing the picture also was – “Southern gentleman”. What a surprise to see that the photograph was taken in Michigan. Your response about how a few years may have changed what was happening in this man’s life is true. Or perhaps Colonel Sanders and “Gone with the Wind” have left me with a visual stereotype.

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