Fun with Photos: Clarke, Frazer, McMaster and ? in the 1890’s

In my previous post, I published a book of photos that was in my grandmother’s possession. They were photos taken around the time of my great-grandmother’s short time of being in the US. Margaret Clarke arrived in the US about 1884 at about age 18. She died in 1902 at age 35.

Statistics: Known and Unknown

The photos that I posted can be put into two categories: those that I know and those that I don’t. Most of the known photos were of James Archibald Frazer, born 1867 and his wife Margaret Clarke, born 1866.

  • Known photos – 15
  • Unknown photos – 31
  • Both known and unknown – 2
  • Repeats – 5
  • Missing slot – 1

That means there should be 54 places in the book. There are more than two times the photos that are unknown compared to the recognizable photos. Sometimes there is more than one person that is unknown on a photo.

Known and Unknown

A photo with a known and an unknown should be helpful.

This man in the tintype above also has his own photo here:

My previous guess was that he could have been the best man at my great-grandparents’ wedding.

A Woman with Margaret

This picture appears twice – both in tintype. A guess could be Margaret Clarke’s bridesmaid?

This photo is in the book right after the previous photo. The woman on the right looks to be the same woman as the one with Margaret in the previous photo. In addition, I wonder if these two are sisters as they have similarly shaped faces.

Face Recognition Software

I don’t know how good the software is, but it should be fun to play around with it. I first tried Pictriev. It seemed like photo 33B were two brothers:

These two got an 86% rating:

These two from the same photo that I thought were sisters get a similar rating:

While I was changing over, I still had the man above on the right and the woman on the left. The two got a 0% rating, for comparison.

Here the woman on the left is the one holding the black back with Margaret Clarke.

I thought that these two would be the same, but they got a lower rating. The woman on the left is at a little angle. I don’t know if that is enough to make a difference.

Here is a different combination:

This at least gives a bit of a subjective meter, rather than “I think they look like the same person”.

This woman is still in the 50’s for similarity:

These two did slightly better:

These two women at least scored over 70%:

Tricking PicTriev

Here are two that I am quite sure are both my great grandmother Margaret Clarke:

When I click the identity button, it says that they are not the same person.

Both these photos are straight on, but the score is even worse.

Above is a different score, but PicTriev still says that they are different people.

Here is the highest match so far:

PicTriev still has them as different people. I hadn’t realized that I have three photos of James Frazer without a mustache. I will assume that those are the earliest photos: 3, 6, and 33C.

My conclusion is that PicTriev is fun to play with, but not very accurate.

Photos by Studio

Here is a summary sorted by studio:

CE Beane wins the prize with 9 photographs. Following that are Elmer Chickering and Gray with four each. However, Gray has two different addresses. Perhaps they moved at a certain point. There were two photos taken at Gendron. The rest of the Studios took one photo each.

James Frazer 1892

Here is James in the 1892 directory:

This was the same entry as the year before, so I suppose where he lived while single:


Here I mention the James above my James A. as he appears in earlier Directories also as living and working in East Boston. I show this to indicate that it was not my James living in East Boston and working as a steward.

Here is James in 1893, showing his married address:

Here his place of work is not mentioned. Was he out of work or in transition?

Here is how that area looked on the 1888 Directory Map:

To the left of Gainsborough is Northeastern University. It is interesting that my father and I both graduated from this University. 1961 Washington Street is just below the corner of Thorndike Street. Thorndike is one Street to the SW of Newcomb.

Add in the CE Deane Studio

The Street to the bottom of the lower part of the lower circle was Warren Street. Cousin Fred did some research on C.E. Beane:


Gray Studio

The Gray Studio was fairly close by also:

I have circled it in purple. Here is some more from Fred:

The Frazer Family 1894

In 1894, now James is not merely boarding as he was in 1892, but has a house:

A peek down below at a later Directory shows that the Wharton Tea House was at 1971 Washington Street.

1895 showed the same entry:

Here is where an old map of Boston comes in handy.

There is no longer a Westminster Street in this area. It appears that when my grandmother was born, the Frazers were living between two photo studios and James’ place of work on Washington Street. I would imagine that 1971 Washington Street where James was either a clerk or a salesman would have been about one building away from 1961 Washington Street.

Oddly the birth record for my grandmother mentions that the family was living at the Hotel Westminster at the time:

With Hotel Westminster in quotes. There was a famous Hotel Westminster at Copley Square:

I can’t imagine that the Frazers were living there.

Elmer Chickering Studio

I would not want to leave out any studio. Elmer Chickering is listed at 21 West Street.

Perhaps while in downtown Boston, the Frazers would have their photos taken. I also circled Temple Place as Ritz Portraits was there. In addition, Margaret Clarke had a photo taken at The Ideal Photo Studio on Washington across from Temple Place. I am familiar with the area as I worked at 1 Winter Street for many years.

21 West Street appears to be vacant but I have eatenat Fajitas and Ritas which is the building on the left.

Gendron – 13 Tremont Row

I had wrongly read this as 13 Tremont, Rox(bury). Interestingly, this was a female photographer, Miss Addie M. Gendron.  Tremont Row also no longer exists. Here is where it was:

This area is in the Sculley Square area that was removed for Government Center. A portion of Boston Common and the State House can be seen in the top left of the map for reference.

The Frazers in 1896

This was the year that George William Frazer was born. At this time, James was listed as a grocer. I would think that the 1997 Directory would better reflect what James was doing in 1996. There are two entries:

My guess is that James A had two jobs. The first one just appears to list the work place. The second entry lists his house. I do think that I recall James being called a tea dealer. Perhaps he bought and sold tea at 1971 Washington Street.

Looks like my guess was wrong. Here is the 1896 Directory:

This shows that there were two James A Frazers. Thankfully, the Boston Athenaeum web site has many Boston City Directories. I wonder if these two James A Frazers knew each other?

Summary and Conclusions

  • I have taken a look at some of the early years of my Frazer and Clarke great-grandparents.
  • I had trouble using one facial recognition program. It didn’t seem very accurate.
  • I looked at the studios where my great-grandparents had their photos taken.
  • I also looked at City Directories locating where James Archibald Frazer lived right before and after he married Margaret Clarke in 1892.
  • Using street maps, I was able to virtually walk the streets of 1890’s Boston with my ancestors.

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