This carte de visite was found in an antique store in Vancouver and is labelled, "Mary Bain, Lenora Bain" on the otherwise blank back of the photograph. A photographer is provided: H. S. Shuster, Artist." But we're missing an importance piece of information on this card: the location.
The girls, presumably sisters, are wearing Scottish plaid dresses, which was a popular fabric pattern for girl's dresses during the 1860s and early 1870s. The youngest is holding what appears to be a doll. The setting has an 1860's feel to it because of the plain backdrop but it's possible that this photograph was taken at a travelling studio, or at the very least, in a hasty manner, because the chair draped with a somewhat wrinkly cloth, and the thin carpet is curled up in the right hand corner, exposing the floor. The cardstock hints at more of a 1870s time period, with its rounded corners, and coloured, medium-thick paper.
I found two sisters, Mary and Lenora Bain, in the 1870 US Federal Census for Astoria, Clatsop, Oregon. Their parents were Charles H. Bain, b. 1841 KY and Annie Bain, b. 1841, Iowa. At the time, Mary was a one-year-old, and Lenora, only a month old. The girls had two older brothers: John, 5 and Charles, 3. Charles Bain, Sr. was a carpenter and was probably doing fairly well at his trade. Lucy Langworthy, 13, worked as a servant for the Bain family.
I wanted to learn a little about H.S. Shuster, to see if he would have worked in this area around 1873.
According to the 1880 Census, H. (Henry) S. Shuster, a photographer lived in Salem, Oregon. He was born about 1830 in New Jersey. Henry opened his first photographic studio in Middletown, Delaware and sometime in the latter part of the decade headed west to work as an itinerant photographer, first to Wichita, Kansas where he shows up in the 1870 Census, and then to Texas and Oklahoma. At Fort Sill, OK, Shuster photographed the earliest images of the Tonkawa people. He moved on to Oregon in 1872, setting up shop in Astoria. I found the following advertisement an Astoria newspaper:
|Tri-Weekly Astorian, August 26, 1873|
So what happened to the girls? They both appear with family in the 1880 census, still living in Astoria. In Portland, Oregon; Its History and Builders, a local history written in 1911, we learn that Lenora married Charles P. Hogue, a prominent Portlander, in 1889. There is an information-packed article about Mr. Hogue in the book, along with a photograph of the man.
|Portland, Oregon; its history and builders, Volume 2, page 582|
Lenora's sister Mary was far more elusive. The last mention I could find of her was in the 1880 Census (Astoria, OR).