Some rare photographs of several famous people were taken during the mid-1800s when Kodak, the first camera, was sold commercially by Eastman. An interesting fact is that very few personalities have been documented to have just one existing photograph. Equally interesting are the life stories of these famous people,celebrated for a variety of good, and at times, not-so-good reasons.
1.Samuel Wilson (1766 ”œ 1854)
Samuel Wilson was a successful American meat packer in New York when the War of 1812 broke out. He supplied beef to the Army; shipping the meat in large barrels with the initials ‘U.S.’ stamped on them. The initials, of course, stood for ‘United States,’ but it became a standing joke among the soldiers that ‘U.S.’ pertained to ‘Uncle Sam,’ who was the meat supplier. Eventually, everything marked with the initials ‘U.S.’ came to be associated with Uncle Sam. The United States Congress, in 1961, officially acknowledged Uncle Sam Wilson of New York as the originator of America’s national symbol. The traditional depiction of Uncle Sam, however, bears little resemblance to the actual facial features of Samuel Wilson.
2.Chief Seattle (1780 ”œ 1866)
Chief Seattle was a Duwamish chief after whom an entire city was named. The chief was born sometime around 1780 in Washington. He was recounted to be a great leader and warrior, defeating hosts of enemy raiders that dared attack their tribe. Chief Seattle was a charismatic and powerful orator whose voice was said to have carried a distance of three-quarters of a mile. He was most recognized for a controversial speech which he supposedly gave to a large gathering in Seattle regarding the concession of indigenous lands to the white settlers and respect to Native American rights.
3.Ichabod Crane (1787 ”œ 1857)
Ichabod Bennet Crane, born in New Jersey, was a military officer who first enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1809, serving the Marines as a second lieutenant for three years before accepting a commission in the United States Army in 1812. As captain, he assumed command of Fort Pike’s artillery battery and was instrumental in the captures of Fort York and Fort George in Canada. While at Fort Pike, he met author Washington Irving, known for the legendary short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow whose main protagonist was named Ichabod Crane. It is surmised that Irving used Ichabod’s unusual name for his character without Crane’s permission. Crane was eventually assigned to Fort Wolcott in Rhode Island and served as the fort’s commander. At the time of his death in 1857, Ichabod Crane was still on active duty as a colonel of the U.S. Army. He served his country for 48 years and earned the respect of those who knew him.
4.Emily Dickinson (1830 ”œ 1886)
Emily Dickinson was born to an affluent and well-educated family residing in western Massachusetts. Emily attended a year of college then spent most of her life at home, together with her sister Lavinia. Neither of the two sisters married and instead devoted their time to caring for their parents. Emily was graced with the gift of writing and spent much time maintaining correspondence with friends. She also compiled hand-produced and hand-bound manuscript books which held a total of around 1,800 poems. Failing eyesight may have slackened her literary endeavors somewhat but did not succeed in keeping her from producing more poetic wonders. The majority of her poems, however, were only published after her death as she was apparently resistant to the idea of sharing them with the world. She died as a result of a degenerative kidney condition called Bright’s Disease which claimed her life at 55.
5.Sarah Winchester (1839 ”œ 1922)
Sarah Winchester was the wife of and heiress to the estate of William Wirt Winchester, a renowned and extremely wealthy firearms manufacturer. They had a daughter who died a few weeks after she was born, causing Sarah to plunge into a deep depression. Years later, her father-in-law also passed on, soon followed by her husband, leaving her a very wealthy woman. She believed that her family was cursed and that the way to break the curse was to never stop construction on her sprawling California mansion. She oversaw renovations and construction on what was eventually called the Winchester Mystery House every day for 38 years, creating an extravagant complex structure with 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces, 10,000 window panes, miles of hallways, secret passages, and staircases leading nowhere. Construction only stopped when Sarah Winchester died in her sleep at the age of 83.
6.Johnny Ringo (1850 ”œ 1882)
Johnny Ringo was a celebrated outlaw in Tombstone, Arizona, known for his quick temper and excellent shooting prowess. He was responsible for killing several men, one time for as little reason as refusing to have a drink with him. He was found dead with a gunshot wound in the head and with his own revolver hanging by his hand in what appeared to be a suicide. Several people, however, were thought to have been responsible for his death, including lawman Wyatt Earp and his friend Doc Holliday.
7.Billy the Kid (1859 ”œ 1881)
Billy the Kid was born William Henry McCarty but had many aliases including William Bonney. He is known to be one of the most famous and mysterious juvenile delinquents in his time. He was described as a neat dresser and a good-natured young man who had a vindictive temper. He was always in trouble with the law, becoming embroiled in robberies, gambling, and constant brawls. He allegedly killed his first victim when he was 18 years old and was famed to be one of the fastest draws who very seldom missed his mark. He supposedly killed 21 men although this figure may be exaggerated as many murders in New Mexico were readily attributed to him. He was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett when he was 21 years old after a notorious and successful escape from imprisonment and hanging.
8.Karl Denke (1870 ”œ 1924)
Little is known about Karl Denke, a Polish national. He was well-liked by the community although he apparently led a deeply disturbing lifestyle. He was arrested for the murder of over 30 people, as evidenced by a journal he kept detailing information about his victims, their personal data, and how they were killed. What is even more disturbing was the fact that he cannibalized his victims, collected their remains in jars, and even reportedly sold their flesh at the local market. Denke committed suicide the day after he was arrested.
9.Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893 – 1929)
Born blind, American Lemon Jefferson was a very popular blues singer and guitarist. He had a great impact on the Texas Blues scene, dominating it in the 1920s and earning himself the title ‘Father of the Texas Blues.’ Very little is known about his personal life, but he did influence many exceptionally talented recording artists such as B.B. King and T-Bone Walker and helped Paramount Records become a prominent recording company during this era. Many rumors surrounded his death in 1929 although the official cause of death was given as acute myocarditis.
10.Margery Booth (1905 ”œ 1952)
Margery Booth was born in Greater Manchester, England in 1905. She started out as a singer in Covent Garden but gained public attention when she joined the Berlin State Opera in Germany in the 1930s. When World War II broke out, Margery Booth, who was trusted by the Germans, sent her to a camp where recruitment for the British Free Corps was made. Here she worked as a spy, gathering information about British traitors. With her assistance, British prisoners of war were able to dispatch coded messages to their London superiors. After the war, Booth had difficulty finding employment as most common people thought of her as a Nazi sympathizer and shunned her company. She settled down in New York,where she eventually died of cancer at the age of 47.
While these people only have one photograph on record, the world has several reasons to remember them as they have each had an impact, whether positive or negative, on the lives of other people during their time and, in some cases, even long after they were gone.