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 David O. Crofoot Back of David O. Crofoot photo

David O. Crofoot

The pictures on this website were assembled by Hannah Rich of South Kortright, NY, on the occasion of her marriage in 1861 to William Blakely Peters of Bloomville, NY. The Tallmans - Jerusha Peters Tallman and Moses Tallman - were relatives of William Blakely Peters; Jerusha was William’s aunt. David O Crofoot, pictured here, was the Tallman’s son-in law: he married their daughter Sarah E. Tallman.

The Crofoots were early settlers of Onondaga County and Cortland County, New York. Chapter 26 of Smith’s history of Cortland includes this information about the family: “James Crofoot was one of the prominent early settlers and probably emigrated from Connecticut about the year 1806, arriving in Preble during the latter part of that year. He settled on lot 88 and was one of the very first to locate in Baltimore.” Other Crofoots were businessmen, the tavern-keeper, the township supervisor, a tanner, and a shoemaker.

The David O[liver?] Crofoot in this picture may have been James Crofoot’s grandson, and was born 08 Oct 1833 in Preble, Cortland County, NY. David and Sarah E. Tallman, born 16 Mar 1841 in Preble, were married 08 October 1867, also in Preble.

David and Sarah had the following children: John Tallman Crofoot, born 14 Oct 1869; Mary Emma Crofoot, born 12 Dec 1870 in Preble; Henry C. Crofoot, born Aug 1875; and Wellington A. Crofoot, born 29 Sep 1877, also in Preble. It seems amazing that Wellington Crofoot died in Los Angeles, California, but see below for a further California connection.

The Elmwood Cemetery of Preble township, Cortland County, contains these gravesites: “Sarah E. Tallman Wife of David O. Crofoot bu[ried] February 11, 1895 aged 54 yrs. Daughter of Moses T. and Jerusha Peters Tallman” and “David O. Husband of Sarah Tallman bu[ried] July 11, 1914 aged 80 yrs. Son of Alonzo and Jane Severson Crofoot.”

Here is a small family mystery: the Tallmans, husband and wife, are in Hannah Rich’s photograph album, as is the Tallmans’ son-in-law. But why isn’t Sarah, their daughter and his wife, also there?

Crofoot StampAbout the photographer: when the contrast of the stamp on the back of David Crofoot’s picture is improved, it reads, “Silas Selleck S. F.” around the outside, and “Aug 66” in the center. A biography of Edward James Muggeridge, an early British photographer who came to the United States in 1852, tells us that Muggeridge —who became world famous —“settled for awhile in San Francisco where he learned photography from daguerreotypist Silas Selleck in the early 1860s.”

Hard as it is to believe, then, David Crofoot’s picture was taken in California in 1866!

Craig’s Daguerreian Registry gives us this further information about photographer Selleck: he was active as a daguerreian in New York City and San Francisco, California, and he was a member of the New York State Daguerreian Association in 1851. In his advertising in 1852 he stated that he was formerly with Brady's (Matthew Brady’s?) gallery, and for six years was the principal operator there. From 1854 to 1861 he was listed in San Francisco, California, on Clay Street.

The Cleveland Museum of Art tells us that Muggeridge “learned the art of photography in 1867, possibly from his friend Silas Selleck. Soon after, [Muggeridge] emerged as the "artist-photographer" Eadweard Muybridge. Also known as "Helios," the proprietor of a mobile photo wagon called the Flying Studio, he became associated with Selleck's “Cosmopolitan Gallery.” More about Muggeridge and his revolutionary photographic work can be found at Bigshotz Panorama Photographers - Past & Present.

Selleck seems to have taken pictures of a number of west coast luminaries of the time, including an 1863 portrait of Prof. J D Whitney, State Geologist of California.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco own another Selleck picture, an odd photograph of nine-month old Emily Tucker in 1860 or 1861, and the Bancroft Library Pictorial Collections have another Selleck portrait: “Unidentified man”.

So . . . David O Crofoot of Cortland County, NY, went west sometime before 1866, had his picture taken by famous photographer Silas Selleck in San Francisco, and returned in 1867 to marry Sarah E Tallman in Preble township, where their four children were born. What was he doing in California? Did he ever return there? And how did it happen that his son went to Los Angeles?


This just in about the California Connection: because of his picture, we know that David Crofoot was in California in 1866. One of his children died in California. Now, David's mother-in-law, Jerusha Peters Tallman, was the sister of Richard and John Peters, and it seems entirely possible that David met his wife through Richard Peters, who lived in the same township that he did.

Is it too far-fetched to imagine that this passage from the Delaware County Biographical Review might shed some light on David Crofoot’s business on the West Coast?

“In the year 1850, having purchased a farm in the village of Bloomville, [John Peters] removed to that village, where he shortly after engaged in that mercantile business. This was the period when the gold excitement of California was at white heat; and as an experiment, he made at different times large shipments of butter to that market. One of the methods adopted with fair success for preserving it sweet during the journey of two or more months necessary for its transit was that of packing the butter in small wooden kegs, holding about one gallon, identical in style with the old-fashioned oyster-kegs. These kegs were in turn packed in large casks of sixty or more gallon capacity, and the vacant spaces carefully filled with Turk's Island salt. These weighty packages were then carted by team to Catskill, thence by water to New York, and thence around Cape Horn [at the bottom of South America], crossing the equator twice on their journey to the ‘forty-niners’ in that then far-off land of gold—a venture which proved a financial success.”

Please Note: In 2005 this album came into the loving care of Hannah Rich Peters’ and William Blakely Peters’ great-granddaughter, Carolyn Flanders McPherson, and is presented here for the first time. For more detailed information on the photo album and its contents you may view the introduction here.

Patricia and Carolyn have attempted to identify all persons in the album and learn more about them through research of various records. If you can help us identify or add further information to this photo, please contact:
Email Carolyn


Additional Links

Next Photo - Belle Rintoul Davenport
Photo Album of Hannah (Rich) Peters
History of Cortland Co., NY by H.P. Smith
-----An outside link to Cortland Co., New York @ RootsWeb
Elmwood Cemetery - Preble, New York
-----An outside link to Cortland Co., New York @ RootsWeb
Crofoot Memorials & Headstones at Elmwood Cemetery - Preble, New York
-----An outside link to Find A Grave
Photographer Edward James Muggeridge
-----An outside link to The Maritime Heritage Project
John Craig’s Daguerreian Registry (Outside link)
The Cleveland Museum of Art (Outside link)
Eadweard Muybridge Panoramic Photos
-----An outside link to Bigshotz Panorama Photographers - Past & Present
Bancroft Library Pictorial Collections
-----An outside link to Online Archive of California
Delaware County Biographical Review
------(An outside link to Delaware County, NY - Genealogy & History Site
PDP's Roots & Branches Blog
Updated June 01, 2014
Album photos provided by Carolyn F. McPherson 2005
Web Pages Designed & Maintained by P. Davidson-Peters 2005 All Rights Reserved.