Sunday, March 16, 2014

Walter B. Delbridge, "Deaf and Dumb Photographer" 1880's

Once again we have a photograph of an unidentified individual.  The picture itself is not in the best of shape and is extremely faded.  Even using photo manipulation software I was only able to bring the image out just a bit.  It had obviously been cut and inserted into an oval frame at sometime but that was long ago.  

What I can tell you is that the photographer was Walter B. Delbridge, born about 1846 in Virginia.  He was a son of James D. Delbridge and his wife Martha J.  I believe that Martha was actually Martha J. Collier as I found a North Carolina marriage bond dated Feb 28 1839 between James D. Delbridge and Martha J. Collier.  Also, in the 1870 Census for Oxford Mississippi there is a B.W. Collier and family living nextdoor to the Delbridge clan.  You will also notice that James and Martha have two sons that are labeled as "Deaf and Dumb"

You can see that W. B. Delbridge was listed as an artist in 1870.  In the 1880 Census he has moved to Milan Tennessee and is a photographer.

On May 6 1880 the following advertisement appeared in the Milan Exchange:

We are pleased to receive a visit from Mr. W. B. Delbridge, a deaf and dumb photographic artist, who intends opening a gallery in Milan at an early day.  He exhibited some of his work to us, and from the specimens we are sure he will give entire satisfaction to those who wish a good picture.

On  July 9 1881 the Milan Exchange reported that Delbridge was leaving Milan and now was a good opportunity to get photographs taken.  

Since the back of the photograph says he was a traveling photographer he may have just been going to visit other towns or it's entirely possible he made the move to Dresden since the following notice appeared in the Dresden Democrat on October 21 1881:

"W.B. Delbridge, our popular photographer, has gone to Memphis"

So maybe his photography studio had moved to Dresden.  What the paper fails to report is that Delbridge went to Memphis to marry Miss Maggie Wright!

The next notice I find is a death notice for his wife Maggie.  Less than a year after their marriage, Maggie died in McKenzie TN.  It appeared in the Memphis Public Ledger August 9 1882:

Mrs. Maggie Delbridge, formerly Miss Wright of this city, and married in october last, died of malarial fever at McKenzie, Tenn, last Monday. 
It is unknown where she is buried.

I don't know what happened to Walter Delbridge however he does appear in findagrave and is interred at Oxford Memorial Cemetery with his parents and a few siblings.  If he had a full headstone it is no longer there with only a foot marker to note his initials W.B.D. and his life.

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