Monday, June 25, 2018
Over 21 Wyndham
It's time to tinker with the local city directories to see just how long the photography studio known as Burgess and Son was in business in the city of Guelph, Ontario. Our goal: determine a date range for the picture found in a northern California antique shop with the enigmatic label "Henry + cousin John Reed Daughter."
My thinking is that, once we determine that date range, we can estimate the date of birth of the woman in the photograph and, assuming she is John Reed's daughter, look for that family constellation in the Canadian census for the nearest decade.
Simple, right? Don't be too sure.
Let's look, today, at what can be found about the business establishment known as Burgess and Son. Thanks to a modest inclusion of Wellington County directories in the collection at Ancestry.com, I was able to find a listing for that specific photography enterprise as early as the year 1886. The entry reveals that the studio was located "over 21 Wyndham" in the city of Guelph. It also alerts us to the fact that the senior Burgess was named William.
Before that point, William Burgess was listed in the city directory at that same business location, but only under his own name. At least, that's how I found the listing for 1884 and 1883.
Of course, that could just be how that particular publisher printed out their directories. I couldn't find any different section with a classified directory, so that hampers our quest for isolating the dates the business was in operation specifically under that name, Burgess and Son.
On the other end of the spectrum, I was able to locate their listing in 1889, in 1891, in 1895, in 1896, and even in 1900. After that, despite that particular Ancestry collection stating it went up to 1906, I couldn't locate any directories specific to Guelph. For all I know, Burgess and Son could have been in operation for decades after that.
That open-ended scenario, at least for our purposes, may not hamper our search by much, as the type of photographic design—the cabinet card style—was not continued for long after that point. We may be safe in assuming the couple sat for their likeness any time between the establishment of the business name after 1884 and any time up through the turn of that century. Still, that's a span of over fifteen years.
Next on our research plan will be to find a family of someone in Guelph named John Reed—or, gasp, any one of several spelling permutations—which includes a daughter who would be at least approaching her twenties sometime between 1885 and 1900. Or beyond.
And then? Hope fervently that that daughter became the bride of a man named Henry.
With variables like that, what are my chances?
Above: Entry for Burgess & Son photography studio in the Guelph city directory in 1891; image courtesy Ancestry.com.