|Mary Rich Struthers is undoubtedly
the mother of Stephen Rich Struthers, Agnes Struthers, and Mary Struthers Robinson, all of whom appear in
this online album.
The second section of the Delaware County
Biographical Review gives us a great deal of
information about Marys parents, Stephen Altgelt Rich and his wife, Jane Oliver, though this passage does its best
to obscure the Rich familys lineage.
Rich] was married May 6, 1869, at the mature age
of forty-five, to his cousin, Sarah Rich, a
native of New York City, the daughter of Stephen
Altgelt Rich and his wife, Jane Oliver, who was
born October 22, 1788. These parents were married
May 12, 1812, by the Rev. Robert Forrest. Stephen
A. Rich died August 29, 1858, and his wife on
February 25, 1868. They had ten children, half of
whom survive. Charlotte and Rachel are both
widows in New York City, the former having
married William Patterson, and the latter Mr.
Buchan, of the firm [James Buchan & Co.,
manufacturers of soap and candles]. Jane Rich
lives with her sister Sarah on the homestead.
Elizabeth Rich is the wife of James Rintoul, of
New York City. Sarah Rich married her kinsman,
Stephen Rich, as before stated. The five deceased
children are as follows: James B. was born on the
first day of March, 1813, and died in Alabama,
August 12, 1844. Mary Struthers Rich [sic] was
born March 18, 1815, and died January 28, 1892.
Robert Forrest Rich, born January 3, 1820, died
November 11, 1872, in New Jersey. Hannah [Rich]
Thomson was born November 19, 1822, and died
March 27, 1852 in New York City. Andrew Mather
Rich was born December 23, 1823, died August 17,
Biographical Review makes a mistake: this
Marythe Mary in this picturecannot be
Mary Struthers Rich: as the child of Stephen
Altgelt Rich, her maiden name would have been
Mary Rich, her correct married name Mary Rich
Struthers, as Hannah Richs notation on the
back of the picture states.
Struthers married James Struthers, but little
else is known about them. Mary appears fleetingly
in census records. According to FamilySearch, the
genealogical site of the Church of Jesus-Christ
of Latter-Day Saints [link: www.FamilySearch.com]
in the Federal Census of 1880, Mary Struthers is
described as the widow of James Struthers living
with her daughter Agnes Struthers in Jersey City,
Hudson, New Jersey. Note that at least one of the
FamilySearch records appears to confuse Mary Rich
Struthers with Mary Struthers (later: Robinson),
photographer: the only information we have about
the person who took Marys photograph is at
the bottom of her picture: he was Brady,
New York. The first Brady one naturally
thinks of is Mathew Brady, the famed Civil War
photographer. But how likely is *that*?
John S. Craigs
excellent Daguerreian Registry lists four men by the name
of Brady engaged in the photographic enterprises
of the day. James Brady was active in Baltimore,
Maryland, until 1864. John Brady was the brother
of Mathew and might, Craig says, have been
involved in New York City in the manufacture of
cases for daguerreotypes in the early 1840s.
Joseph B Brady is described as a possible
daguerreian, probably in New York City, NY, c.
1853. The existence of this daguerreian is
deduced from a lithograph of Little Cordelia
Howard, who played Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin; the
lithograph was based on a photograph by a
"Jos. B. Brady," and copyrighted 1853.
makes us think that, if Marys photograph
had been taken by this same Joseph B, it would
bear the same Jos. B. Brady
trademark. On the other hand, master photographer
Abraham Bogardus, whose pictures appear over and
over in Hannah Richs album, used a variety
of logos over a short period of time. Might not
Jos. B. have done the same?
throw caution to the winds for a moment and
declare this picture to be by Mathew Brady
himself, or one of his associates. Stephen May tells us Brady was
hampered by failing eyesight all his life, and
did not necessarily make all the exposures
himself: many were taken by assistants working
under his supervision: he trained them, arranged
the poses, and told his assistants when to click
the shutter. All this produced the Brady
A way to prove that the
Brady who took Mary Rich Struthers picture
was *the* Mathew Brady would be to find
photographs by all four Bradys, and compare their
logos with that on the front of Mary Rich
Struthers photograph. Note the unusual
style of the notation: the word Brady
is on the far left, followed by a comma and a
long blank space, then the words New
York on the far right.
On the Dickinson College website about Mathew Brady
and his photographs there is not only a
photograph of Brady himself, but on the card to
which the photograph is affixed are the words
Brady and a comma on the left, a long
blank space, and the city name,
Washington, on the right. The font,
however, is different: an elegant cursive.
examination there are many of Mathew Bradys
cartes-de-visite in the Smithsonians
Portrait Gallery. Most of the cards in The Comprehensive List of
have no visible attribution, but check out the
portrait of Abraham Lincolns son Tad! On this card the print
reads Brady in an upright typestyle,
with the comma to the left, the space, and then
Washington to the right. Brady
photographed Lincoln and his family a number of
times, and Lincoln said that Mathew Bradys
photograph made him president.
There are other
pictures by Brady on the National Gallery site;
these have the same style of attribution as Mary
Rich Struthers picture, and varying
typestyles: General Hooker, actress Maggie Mitchell, and scientist Joseph Henry.
It seems safe to
conclude that Mary Rich Struthers picture
was, in fact, actually taken by Mathew Brady. As
to when it was taken, her ensemble points to
sometime during the Civil War.
Marys dress bears all
the hallmarks of victorian mourning: the fabric
is dull, rather than shiny; the collar of her
dresscollars were very fashionable during
the Civil Waris black, not white. Even
extremely high magnification does not reveal the
detail of her neck broach, but the sentimentality
of the era would have suggested a tiny portrait
of her lost loved one. In fact, Mary is probably
in deep mourning, the 2-year period
following the death of a husband during which one
was expected to wear black.
details confirm a 1861-1865 dating: the
hairstyle, parted in the center and severely
pulled to the back, the absence of any jewelry
other than the broach, the hair covering
(indicating a married woman), the fullness of the
skirt, and the high waist. The sleeves are
unusual: there appear to be fabric bands wound
around the tops of the sleeves, and at the cuffs
as well. The other unusual detail in this
photograph is the mysterious item in her hands.
Could it be a tiny purse?
It seems likely
that Mary Rich Struthers lost her husband in the
same conflict which brought her photographer such
fame, and then such calamity. Bradys
graphic images brought home the horror of the
Civil War. Stephen May tells us: [He had]
poured $100,000 into equipment, supplies, travel
expenses, salaries and other costs involved in
documenting the war. Even after he used up all
his investments and savings, debts from the great
Civil War project continued to plague him.
war, Brady faced increasingly stiff competition
and his finances, already precarious, declined.
He spent much of the remainder of his life
fending off creditors. In 1872 he closed his New
York gallery and filed for bankruptcy.
beloved wife, Juliette Handy Brady, died in 1887,
advancing age, despondency and heavy drinking
eroded Brady's health and reputation.
Back in New
York in 1890, he opened a gallery where the main
attraction seemed to be Brady himself, the grand
old man of American photography. Severely injured
in a street accident from which he never fully
recovered, he died penniless in New York in 1896.
the funeral was financed by New York's Seventh
Regiment, of which he was an honorary member.
In the end Brady was best loved by the
soldiers he immortalized, observes Panzer.
Brady was buried in Washington's Congressional
Cemetery, where his grave can be seen today in
what has become an endangered historic