Finding the lost and forgotten photos is great. There could be untold treasures in such a find. Located at the Fort Hayes State University in Kansas is such a collection. However, these are not ordinary photos but rather glass plates negatives. They were from the William R. Gray Studio in St. John, Stafford County, Kansas. What makes these even better are the labels (names, descriptions, places) attached to most of them.
William Gray was born in Indiana in 1863 and moved to McPherson, Kansas in 1883. He started in 1887 with a camera and overland gallery (photo car), traveling to small Kansas towns to take photos. By 1905 he sets up a photo studio in St. John, Kansas. Now just William had a photo studio, but two of his brothers and tow of his children. William Gray died in 1947 and eventually the family donated the early glass plate negatives, about 29,000, to the Stafford County Museum in 1986.
Many of Gray’s early photos when he drove across the countryside provide insight into the cultural and leisure time activities as well as work, schools, churches, clubs, clothes, vehicles, homes, pets and farm animals in late 19th century and early 20th century.
Use the search box at the top to place a surname or a key word which might be in a description. If you had ancestors in the Stafford County area of Kansas from the turn of the century to 1940s, you will want to preview these images.
Photos: 1926 Nellie Johnson in a dark colored dress in St. John; two men with a load of wood using a cart and horse in 1911; a barber shop in 1911 in St John and W. B. Snyder in 1908 in an early auto.
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