The Shelby Museum Of History
Recorders of Shelby Pictorial History

Early Shelby Photographers and their Photographs
Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *
William H. Schwab (c. 1903 to c. 1906)

The April 2, 1906 edition of the Daily Globe states that " Mr. Mossholder came to this place from Ottawa last month, at which time he bought out the gallery of Wm. Schwab and commenced business. He has had very extensive experience in his line and is thoroughly qualified in every way to produce high grade work in photography. He has succeeded to a very extensive business - a business in fact which has surprised the owner and is growing every day, all of which is evidence of the fact that he understands his business and that his work is appreciated by a discriminating public."
At this time we know little more than is mentioned in the above Daily Globe article. The 1906 Shelby City Directory lists the Schwab Photo Studio in the alphabetical listings and then indicates "Wm. Schwab Photo Studio" at "The Brickley Block 67 West Main Street, Room 6". There is no mention of William Schwab in the 1901-1902 or 1908-1909 Shelby directories.
Clues to the identity of William Schwab center around the John Schwab family. John and Caroline Schwab ran a downtown Shelby bakery in the 1880 to 1915 time frame. He was originally from Germany and had a brother Fred who lived in the Pottstown Pennsylvania area. Fred and his wife Mary had a son Herman who came to Shelby in March, 1903 to help in his Uncle John's bakery shop. Herman died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906. His obit. states that he had 3 sisters (one living) and 3 brothers. No information has been located on the 3 brothers, however a distinct possiblity is that one may have been William Schwab. It may be a coincidence that William Schwab sold his photography business to Bert Mossholder in 1906 but it is another possible puzzle piece that seems to support a connection to Herman Schwab.

October, 2008 - Clues to the identity of William Schwab have been recently discovered. Seneca County Ohio birth records indicate that on February 22, 1906 a male child was born to William and Tressie Nadler Schwab who then (May 28, 1906) resided in Attica, Ohio. The baby was born in Shelby, Ohio. This seems to be the piece of the puzzle that proves that William Schwab who sold his business to Bert Mossholder was not related to the John Schwab family as previously thought, but a son of Johann George Schwab who immigrated from Germany. John George Schwab settled in the New Washington, Ohio area and with Elizabeth Louise Utz Schwab and started a family that would grow to 7 children. third son William Henry Schwab was born September 4, 1864 in the New Washington area. William's father died in 1879 and in 1880 he was living with his mother, 2 brothers and sister Caroline, in Venice Twp., Seneca Co., Ohio.
In 1885 William married Louise Catherine Brown and when she died in 1893 she had given birth to 5 children. William married again in 1895 to Charlotte Myrice. This marriage ended in divorce in late 1897 after giving birth to a son William Edward Schwab in December, 1895.
In 1899 William married a third time to Tressie Nadler daughter of Emile and Mary Kerns Nadler. In September of 1900 they had their first child Mable (sometimes spelled Mabel) Marie who was followed in 1902 by son William Carl Schwab. Then on February 22, 1906 Tressie gave birth to George Washington Schwab in Shelby. It was at the time of this birth or shortly thereafter, that William sold his photography business to Bert Mossholder and the family returned to the Venice Twp. , Seneca Co. area, George Washington Schwab was to be their last child and he would die in Attica a year later.
Tressie lived until 1953 when she died in Venice Twp., Seneca Co., Ohio. William was to live for over 97 years and died in the Seneca County home hospital in 1962.
Excepts from his Obit. verify that he led an interesing life: "Formerly widely known as a hunter and woodsman, Mr. Schwab is said to have been engaged in a target shooting match with Colonel "Buffalo Bill" Cody at Willard (Ohio) and won. Old residents of the Caroline (Seneca Co.) area tell of having seen him shoot a soaring hawk out of the sky with a rifle." (August 19, 1962 - Tiffin Advertiser- Tribune)
In 1880 William was living with his mother and siblings on the family farm near Caroline, Ohio. Five years later William first married and by 1900 when we next have a glimpse into his life, he is married to his third wife, lists his occupation as farmer and is living in Richmond Twp., Huron Co. (just east of Venice Twp.). In 1910 he and Tressie are living in Bloom Twp, Senca Co. (west of Venice Twp.) and he lists his occupation as farmer on a general farm. In 1920 he lists his work as Pearl? Hunter and in 1930 "truck farm operator".
Courtesy of the Schwab Family *
William Henry Schwab led an interesting and varied lfe and we would be very happy to hear from anyone who has samples of his photography work or further information on his life and family.
Much information on the John Schwab family as well as lots of clues to the final identity of William Henry Schwab were provided by Marilyn Geiger of New Jersey. Thank you Marilyn, I think we have found Wm. Schwab, Shelby Photographer.

Mid February 2009 - Larry Dunlap contacted the Museum to inform us of his connection to William H. Schwab. Larry verified many of the facts mentioned in the above paragraphs. In the days that followed, Jeanette Schwab and other members of the Schwab Family * contacted the Museum and over the next few weeks supplied a wealth of William's photos. In addition, Jeanette supplied Schwab family genealogy information and helped with many questions concerning Schwab family relationships.
In one of many emails, Larry mentioned that the information concerning William's occupations listed in the 1900 through 1930 censuses (above) were entirely true. He was indeed a "pearl hunter" and Larry supplied photos as proof of that endeavor. Larry said that the pearls were a by-product of collecting clams. Larry supplied the following information about this phase of William and Tressie's (William's third wife) life:
Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *
"Here's the photo I mentioned before, regarding the 'Pearl Hunters' ".
" This . . photo is one of those I was thinking of when I was telling you about the Pearl Hunters. My mom thinks they were probably in Arkansas sometime a little before 1913 because she thinks they left there after the big flood that year. Grandma said she remembered them tying their houseboat to the tops of some of the trees along the riverbank. (Oh yes, I see that the photo of the houseboat shown later on is dated 1911)."

"This is a shot of their clam shed taken by William Schwab at Black Rock, Arkansas circa 1913. Shown are Tressie Schwab, their son Billy and clam shells being bagged up for the button factory. A clam rake and shovel can be seen in the background."
"While the more glamorous and exciting part of their trade was harvesting pearls, their main business was selling the shells to button factories of the day. Buttons were made from the 'mother of pearl' or 'nacre' which lined the inside of the shells."
Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *

"This houseboat was home to the Schwab family during their 'Pearl Hunting' years on the Black River in Arkansas. The nearest town was Black Rock, about 20 miles downstream from Pocahontas. The family collected clam shells until they were forced out by a big flood in 1913."
"The photo was taken by William Schwab in 1911; pictured are William and Tressie's children: Billy, age 9, and Mabel, age 11. The dog's name is unknown." - Larry Dunlap - February, 2009

William Henry Schwab was Larry Dunlap's Great Grandfather. Jeanette Schwab is the wife of Leonard Lester Schwab (deceased) who was a grandson of William Schwab.
Larry resides in Superior, Wisconsin and Jeanette is from Republic, Ohio.
According to the family, William was an "outdoors person". In addition to photography, he enjoyed hunting and fishing and generally liked outdoor activities. Larry says he may have inherited some of those traits. Based on the photos in a web gallery shared with his wife Linda, he definitely has a wonderful photography skill. Here is just one of the many beautiful examples displayed on their webpage:
You can view many more beautiful photos at Larry and Linda's website:

Selected examples of these newly received photos will be displayed (below) on this page and compared with Museum photos. The entire collection will be displayed on a William H. Schwab photo gallery page. This gallery will take a bit of time to load, however it contains a wide variety of William's photos taken in Shelby as well as Attica, Ohio. The Gallery also features much Schwab family genealogy that will help clarify relationships as well as document faces, locations, and dates.
William Schwab Photo Gallery
^check it out ^

At the Museum, we have very few items that can be positively attributed to William Schwab. Many are "of the type" that were done by Mr. Schwab, however they are not marked and therefore at this time cannot be proven his work. One that is marked is a post card that is also shown in the Bert Mossholder portion of this article. It is one with an undivided back.
In December 1901 the U. S. Government first allowed the use of the words "Post card" to be printed on the undivided back of privately printed cards. Previously the U. S. Government issued pre-stamped postal cards and only the government was allowed to use the word "postcard" on the back of postcards. Private printers could use the terms souvenir card or mail card. Writing messages was not permitted on the address side of the card until 1907. Any correspondence had to be written on the "face" of the card.
In March of 1907 the divided back post card allowed the message or writing to be placed in the area to the left of the dividing line on the back of the post card. These changes in the law will allow us to better date some of the post cards from this era. Most all Mossholder Shelby post cards are of the divided back variety but we would be very interested to see any that are labeled "Wm. Schwab".
Wm. Schwab - c. 1905 - 1906

Note that the "message" was written on the face of this William Schwab post card. It was never post marked and so was probably sent inside a letter envelope.
Wm. Schwab - c. June, 1906
This is one of several that are "of the type" of a Wm. Schwab product. This has all the earmarks of a Wm. Schwab post card, plus an additional clue that it was taken in front of the Shelby High School building in Central Park. Once additional Schwab photos are located, perhaps more of the currently "unidentified" photos will be attributed to him.

 mary hoak


Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
Mary Hoak c. 1906 
Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *
Subject unknown  
Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *
Emma Sawyer c. 1906- 1907 




 Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum 

  Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *

  Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family *
The above photograph (left) is embossed "Wm. Schwab" as shown in the enlargement. The subject is Mary Hoak. Mary is probably a daughter of Jacob Mellville and Nora Jane Millard Hoak. Mellville Hoak was a carpenter who lived on Oak Street in Shelby in 1900 and 1910 (census records). Mellville and Nora (who was a dressmaker) had 2 daughters, Mary and Freda. It is possible that this photo was taken at the time of her wedding. Mary was listed living at home at Oak Street in 1906 but gone from the home in 1908 (Shelby directories). Therefore the picture was probably taken in 1906 not long before William sold his business.
The other two photos came from the Schwab family collection and are embossed "Wm. Schwab Attica, Ohio". The dates are somewhat uncertain, but other photos of Emma Sawyer would suggest that they were 1906 - 1907 vintage. This ties in nicely with the date on the Hoak photo. These three photos are the only examples we currently have of William's use of the enlongated style mount and oval portrait.
Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
Harold Perdue c. 1905 - 1906
The reverse of this photo is inscribed Harold Perdue. Harold was the son of Coggswell and Emma Weiser Perdue. He was born June 1887 and therefore in the above picture Harold could easily be 18-19 which would place the photo date c. 1905 - 1906. The impression in the lower right corner is the same as that in Mary Hoak's photo. In 1906, Harold was living with his mother Emma "dressmaker" (his Father had passed away before 1900) at 45 Second St. in Shelby and Harold was working at Brightman Manufacturing In 1908 they were still living on Second St. but Harold was working at the lamp works. In 1913 Harold was now working at Citibank and his mother was still working as a dressmaker. By 1917 (in his draft registration) Harold was a book keeper working in Columbus, Ohio.
Harold married Catherine Skelly c. 1920 and they began their family the following year with the birth of their son Harold Weiser Perdue. Harold and family moved to Cleveland, Ohio by 1930 where he was employed as an IRS agent. He was still an IRS agent when he registered for the draft (WWII) in 1942.
This is the only example of we currently have of this type of picture mount material and mounting method and therefore no comparisons can be made to verify the date of the photograph.
Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
Edward Steele c. 1905 - 1906
(The above photo is embossed with the same "Wm. Schwab" as the two previous photos, but note the mount material
is embossed differently in the oval area immediately surrounding the photo itself. )
"Frank Steele Postal Clerk" is written on the reverse of this photo. It is likely that the name written should be "Edward Steele" since there is no one named Frank Steele living in the Shelby area at the time this photo was taken. However in the 1906 Shelby directory, Edward S. Steele "post." was living at 10 Bridge Street.
Edward was born July 1874, therefore a photo date of 1905 - 1906 would mean that Edward would be about 30 at the time of the picture which fits nicely with the image.
In 1908 Edward S. "mail clerk" and his new wife Corba Ann were living at 8 Earl Ave. In 1913, Edward "U S Mail Service" and wife Corba (by then they had 2 children - Merton and Russell) and still were living at their Earl Ave. address. Edward and wife are both buried at Oakland Cemetery.
If you have information on Edward and Corba's parents, please contact the Shelby Museum.
None of the Schwab family photos have this exact mounting material style. There some similar but slightly different mounts displayed on the Gallery page.

* There are many members of William Schwab's family contributing their time, materials, and information:
Larry and Linda Dunlap have sent photos and supplied commentary on William, his careers and photo record.
Jeanette Schwab as the family genealogist has clarified many details concerning Schwab family lineage.
Also many thanks go to Rosie Tilton Dunlap (Larry Dunlap's mother) for preserving and sharing her grandfather's (William Schwab) photos. Her mother, Mabel Schwab Tilton, wrote the inscriptions that appear on the Schwab photos. Mrs. Dunlap is the main source of information about William Schwab's life and many careers. Thank you all for your multiple contributions !!
Because of all these family contributions, the pictures contributed will be labeled: "Picture courtesy of the Schwab Family"
Thank you all !

We would be very interested in any additional information with regard to William Schwab, his family and his photos.

If you have questions or if you would like more information, please contact :
The Shelby Museum of History
% Sally Maier
76 Raymond Ave.
Shelby, Ohio 44875
Email  Us


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