Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past: Herbert H. Halbert, Photographer

HERBERT H. HALBERT (June 1853-After 1910)

Ellicottville (Cattaraugus Co), NY: September 1888 – August 1889
Sandusky (Cattaraugus Co), NY: 1889
Strykersville (Wyoming Co), NY: 1889-1890
Lancaster (Erie Co), NY: April 1891 (studio burned in 1894-1895); 1900
Warsaw (Wyoming Co),NY: 1894-1895 (Tuttle’s Block)
Buffalo (3rd ward) (Erie Co), NY: 1900s

There were ads for tin types being made in the Heunerfeld Photo Rooms in the Ellicottville Post during the year 1889. These were likely done by the photographer, H.H. HALBERT. HALBERT took out an ad in the Ellicottville Post on September 19, 1888 stating that he had leased the studio in the Huenerfeld Building. Several mentions were made in March of 1889 that folks like John Ehmans of West Valley and C.H. Rider of Great Valley and his school group had their photos taken by H.H. HALBERT. (Charles Rider was listed as the Sugartown District teacher in another news article.)

                In May 1889, there was more news about the photographer HALBERT. One mention said that he was in the town of Perry on business and that Mrs. HALBERT “who is an expert artist” had charge of the studio during his absence. There were remarks that he was in Bradford, PA making views and crowded with work making views of residences, railway locomotives, section gangs “and the like.”

                By August of 1889, HALBERT must have decided to relocate for there was a story that M.H. STEWART (see the post here about photographer M.H. Stewart) had bought out the photographer HALBERT and stated that HALBERT would return to his gallery in Sandusky (Cattaraugus County, New York). In November there was a notice that H.H. HALBERT of Sandusky had leased a gallery in Strykersville, NY where he planned to locate. His photograph studio there was mentioned in January of 1890 as well.

                In April of 1891, HALBERT once again relocated as it was noted that he opened a studio in Lancaster, Erie County, New York. It was also mentioned that Mrs. HALBERT was visiting her father in Perry at the time.

                In about 1894, there was a note that H.H. HALBERT who formerly had a photograph studio there in Ellicottville, “had his studio at Lancaster burned, destroying everything. “ It was probably later that year or the next when there was a notice in the Warsaw, Wyoming County (NY) Times that Photographer H.H. HALBERT of Lancaster would open a gallery in Tuttle’s Block. He was described as a “fine workman in his line.”

                Herbert H. HALBERT, photographer, is found in the town of Lancaster (Erie Co), New York during the 1900 census. His wife was Hattie and his 22-year-old son Arthur was also listed as a photographer. Herbert was born in Virginia in June of 1853 according to this census. He is listed with four other photographers in the third ward of the city of Buffalo in 1910.

                A historical sketch found online at suggests that Herbert was the son of Henry S. Halbert and his second wife Mary Graham who were married at the town of Pavilion (Genesee County), New York. Henry relocated to Fairfax County, Virginia near Centerville where Herbert was born. The family moved back to Western New York by 1863 when Henry S. Halbert was appointed postmaster of the village of Pavilion Center. 

Shown below are digital copies of four cabinet cards with Halbert's imprint in Ellicottville, New York. While only one is positively identified, from the information gleaned on Halbert's whereabouts, we know for sure that all of these were taken between 1888-1889. 

Ewart Jolly, born 28 Jan 1888
Everett Collection
Unknown couple, taken 1888-1889
Everett Collection

Unknown woman, taken 1888-1889
Ellicottville Historical Society
Unknown woman and young girl, taken 1888-1889
Ellicottville Historical Society

Note the same prop is used in the photos of Ewart Jolly and the unknown couple and the same backdrop is used for all three of the full-length portraits.  

Update April 2016: In March, I received an anonymous reply to this post stating that there was a cabinet card done by Halbert while in Lancaster, New York at the New Zealand museum and digitized here:
I sent an inquiry to the museum to inquire if there was any additional information on the back of the photograph. A quick reply from museum staff let me know that they checked the verso (back) and found it blank. I am not sure how they were able to determine the photograph was done by Herbert Halbert for sure (his son was a photographer there in 1900). 


  1. There is another image by Halbert available at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you! I made an update to include the link to this digital photograph. I have also sent an inquiry to the museum to see if there are more details on the back of the original cabinet card.