|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
Welcome to PHPS
Portville: 176 Years Old and Counting ...
Last summer commemorated the 175th anniversary of
Portville becoming a town with a week-long celebration
in August. It was a lot of work for everyone involved
but it was fun and memorable and would not have
happened without the dedication of the organizer, Mr.
Chuck Lucas, and his committee.
This year, Chuck is working on a new project, a
wooden covered bridge for Portville. It has always
been a dream of his to build this bridge and he chose
the Dodge Street bridge between Temple Street and
Upper Brooklyn St/Route 305 near his home. He has
spent countless hours with the officials of Portville
Village and Cattaraugus County to design and obtain
approvals for this unique bridge.
To help draw interest and generate funding for his
project, Chuck enlisted local artist Helen Worth to come
up with a rendering of his vision. Her watercolor is a
lovely fall scene, showing the bridge spanning the
creek, as illustrated below on one of her cards.
This page was last updated on 09/06/2013
A Covered Bridge in Portville's Past?
We are always finding out new and interesting things about Portville. This summer, we discovered
that Portville really did have a covered bridge and we have Anne Sutter to thank for it! As luck would
have it, we happened to be over at the library one Thursday, assisting a researcher from out of town,
when Anne was mentioning some tintypes she had brought with her. When she said they were of the
Peckham family, we became VERY interested. By coincidence, we were researching the Peckhams
for our next newsletter.
Anne explained that she and her siblings had received a number of these photographs that had been
given to their mother, Ruth Wilson, by Roy Peckham. She brought her old photos to the office with a
stack of old post cards. We had a hard time containing our enthusiasm over one post card in
particular. On the back of the card was written "B. TenEyck" and "Old Toll Gate Bridge". Bessie and
Ernie TenEyck have been gone a long time, but they lived at the end of Pine Street for many years,
right next to the old burying grounds of the Pine Street Cemetery and the bank of the Oswayo Creek.
The dykes have filled in a lot of the area behind their house but the post card illustrates the incredible
width of the creek in the old days and the only covered bridge we have ever seen in Portville. As to
the date of the photograph, it must have been taken before 1915, which is the date of an article we
found in the Portville Review describing the "new bridge". Thanks Anne!
Helen's website, www.portvillesfuturecoveredbridge.com, provides details on how to order your own
8 x 12 matted print or set of 6 note cards. Stop by the historical society to save postage. We have
numbered prints selling for $25 and $15 for a pack of the cards. This project needs your support so
please make a donation today!
Chuck Lucas pitching his
Covered Bridge Project.
Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes
Anne's Peckham photographs are not tintypes, but a fascinating collection of earlier technology called
daguerreotype and ambrotype. PHPS Trustee David Pupo filled us in on the chemistry behind the
photographs, having experimented with these very methods as a hobby, as well as his experience from
a long career with Kodak.
The daguerreotype, named after its inventor, Daguerre, was the first practicable method of
photography developed back in 1837. A highly polished copper plate was coated with silver using
silver nitrate, which made it look like a mirror. The plate was then dipped in a solution of potassium
bromide while in the dark (or under a red light) and placed in the plate holder in the back of the
The photographer took the picture by removing the cap from the lens, exposing the light-sensitive
plate, removing it, then replacing the lens cap. The plate was removed from the camera and placed in
a fuming box of mercury where the image appeared in silver. This resulted in a mirror image of the
actual subject. The fumes were very toxic and many photographers died of mercury poisoning
because of this process.
The silver was very fragile and could be wiped off easily so the daguerreotype was placed between
two thin layers of glass and then sealed around the edges with tape or varnish. You can identify a
daguerreotype by tilting it and watching the image change from a positive image to a negative image.
The silver is so shiny that it is difficult to scan the image or take a photo of it without reflecting your
own image (as shown below). This method produced highly detailed images that were usually stored
in small cases.
Trustee Meeting Held
The Officers and Trustees of PHPS met on Wednesday, August
14, 2013, for the annual Board Meeting. Attendees included Bill
Anderson, Terri Batt, Ruth Bray, Bob Fairbanks, Becky Mayo,
Ronda Pollock, Phil Smith, Cindy Keeley, and Helen Worth.
Unable to attend were Tom Chaffee, David Pupo, Sam Shields,
and Gail Feuchter.
Trustees Bill Anderson and Philip Smith renewed their positions
for another 3-year term, whereas Ronda Pollock relinquished her
seat and Helen Worth was elected to fill it. Officers were
re-elected for another 2-year term (2013-2015): Cindy Keeley,
President; Gail Feuchter, Vice President; Ronda Pollock,
Secretary; Bob Fairbanks, Treasurer. The Curator position, the
only position that is appointed, will continue to be held by Trustee
and Curator, Terri Batt.
Topics of discussion mainly focused on the progress made at the
Eshelman properties and plans for next year. A slideshow
illustrated our vast accomplishments. Highlights of the 2014
budget include funding for a new roof for the Grange as well as
grading and crushed limestone paths to be done at the
Trustees voted and approved a project conceived and funded by
Portville Central School Class of 1959. A memorial flag pole and
engraved brick work is to be installed at the school house at
Bedford Corners. The design includes a 12' x 12' area of brick
surrounding the pole, holding over 600 bricks. The bricks will be
engraved with up to 3 lines per brick for anyone who would like
to sponsor them. Everyone is welcome to purchase and dedicate
a brick to themselves, their business, loved ones, or classmates.
For more information, contact the Historical Society. Orders are
now being accepted for placement in the sidewalk in Spring 2014.
Trustees Phil Smith and Bill Anderson
Trustees Becky Mayo and Terri Batt
Ronda Pollock, Secretary
Front of Post Card
Trustees Phil Smith and Bill Anderson
Back of Post Card
This article appeared in
the Portville Review on
October 14, 1915
The ambrotype method of photography was popular during 1850-1870. An ambrotype was an image
on glass made with collodion, cotton with a mixture of acetone and ether. Ether is flammable and
forms peroxides that can explode. The photographer added bromide salts to the collodion and using a
collodion bottle, "floated" the solution over the glass plate, coating all four corners. While the coated
glass plate was still tacky, it was dipped in a bath of silver nitrate. In the dark or under a red light, the
plate was removed from the dipping bath, placed in the back of the camera, and exposed through a
lens for 1-10 seconds. While it was still wet, the image was fixed with sodium thiosulfate.
The ambrotype was developed as a negative so you could not see it until the back was coated with
asphaltum (sometimes red glass was used). Then when viewed from the front, it could be seen as a
positive image. The photograph was coated with flint varnish to preserve it and placed under glass to
keep the image from being touched.
In the ambrotype below, color was added to the woman's cheeks to appear "rosy". The glass image is
in a brass frame which is under another glass plate in a brass frame inside an embossed leather case.
positive image (left)
and negative image
David certainly knows his photography and has recently worked on a book with a collector friend
(also retired from Kodak). It is a lovely coffee table book entitled George Eastman's Cameras and
the Men Who Made Them by Grant Heist. The book jacket says "This book covers the story of
Kodak cameras from 1886 to 1950. More than 50 illustrated charts list the details of almost 300
different Kodak cameras." They have included many interesting photographs and old advertisements.
Ambrotype is made to
look positive by adding
a coating to the back
of the negative. The
result is a mirror-image
of the subject.