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A LOOK BACK: Interesting Finds in Glass Negatives

A003-Matthew-Weber-and-Adam(adma)

Matthew Weber and son Adam, born in 1818, later moved to Ashford and the Concord in 1863.  His grandfather and Continental Army Soldiers were killed by Indians at the start of the Revolutionary War.

By Derek M. Otto

For the last 18 months or so, I have been working on developing old glass negatives into electronic format.  I came across a variety of unique things, such as the photos of the Taylor monument. What I found even more interesting were some of the people that came into light who I had never heard of before, so I had to do a little research.

One such photo was that of Matthew Weber and his family.  Matthew Weber was born in Frankfort, Herkimer County, NY, on Dec. 4, 1818.   He came to the Town of Ashford in 1836 and around 1863, moved to the Town of Concord.  In Briggs History of the Original Town of Concord, he noted his ancestry dating to the beginning of the Revolutionary War: “At the beginning of the Revolutionary War my grandfather, John Weber, was in the continental army, and at an early period in the war was killed with his party by Indians in an ambush.  After killing grandfather, the same band of Indians went to his house and drove grandmother, with family of seven children, out of the house. They allowed grandmother to go into the cellar to get a loaf of bread. She got the bread and a kettle of meal and fled to the woods.  She and the kids stayed in the woods, in the morning the milk cow found them in the woods.  The Indians had taken anything of value and burned the house down.”

The grandmother and the kids, including Matthew Weber’s father, Jacob Weber, were taken to Fort Herkimer.  The box contained many photos of this family, especially his daughter, Ann Eliza Ferrin, who was born in 1843, married in 1868, and was widowed in 1872.

Interestingly, her husband A. W. Ferrin was the publisher of the Chronicle in Springville before becoming an editor for the Express in Buffalo. It is suspected that she came back to Springville after being widowed.

The box contained photos of her painting, resting, sitting and knitting, and made a unique find. Not only were there pictures of the Weber Family, but of a variety of Baptist preachers in the region, like Deacon T. Pierce and The Rev. Smitzer.  Oddly, there was picture of Thangkhan Sangma, who at the time was an internationally-known Baptist missionary from Bengali.  It left me with the question did he visit Springville or was he part of a collection sent from abroad? I still have to look for those clues.  And then there were pictures of more recognizable names like Perriguine Eaton and his wife.  (Remember the article on the oldest house in Springville?  He was the one that built the house on Buffalo Street.)

After several months and going blind trying to read the faded pencil marks on the tattered envelopes of these slides, the last two were hard to decipher.  You can usually tell if the slide was of people, flowers or buildings.  It looked like something broken, and was hard to make out; when I scanned the slides, guess what I saw?  Kittens!  Even back in the 1880s, people were taking photos of kittens.  It just goes to show you what stories and oddities can be connected to a box of old glass negatives.

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