Here’s a photograph John B. Capewell made of a cold and snowy Winter’s day about 100 or years ago or so. Back then a plough served two purposes. It mainly ploughed farm fields which were plentiful in New Jersey at the time, but here it looks like its being used to clear the aftermath of a blizzard.
The Capewells resided in Westville, New Jersey just across the Delaware River from the teeming metropolis that was the city of Philadelpia. I’ve been told by folks on the I Grew Up in Westville page on Facebook that older relatives told tales about the Delaware River freezing over when I made this earlier post. These gentlemen and their horse look to be either standing by the banks of the Delaware or possibly on it providing it was cold enough.
About The Capewell Glass Negative Collection
The Capewell Glass Negative Collection is a series of about 200 5-inch by 7-inch glass negatives shot early in the 20th Century by John Batt Capewell (1878-1951) of Westville, New Jersey. John passed the negatives down to his son Henry who left them in his wife’s possession upon his passing. Henry’s widow didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t particularly want them so she offered them to my Dad who couldn’t turn down anything. Ultimately I wound up with them and thought I would one day have photographic prints struck from them. That didn’t happen, but I came up with the digital workaround of placing the negatives on a lightbox and rephotographing them with a digital camera. The “processing” was then done on a computer with image editing software. Many of these pictures have not been seen in a century, and I’m proud to be presenting them today.
At first, I did not know who the people were in the photographs. I have a box of ephemera that accompanied the negatives and snagged a few clues from that as far as the Capewell name. I did some research on the internet and had a few false starts and wrong turns, but the readers of these posts have provided a remarkable amount of research and detail. I’m amazed at what people have turned up sifting through public records and such!
This story continues to evolve. Every Thursday, I will post a Capewell picture or two. If you recognize a person or place in one of the shots or just want to drop a line, feel free to comment!
The INCREDIBLE Jerseyman has chimed in and cleared up my historical fog! These gentlemen are actually ice cutting and not ploughing or plowing as I assumed. See Jerseyman’s comment below!
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Another great photograph, Joe! These men are actually cutting ice on the lake at Washington Park on the Delaware. In the background you can see the park flagpole and the incline for the scenic railway. Washington Park stood back by the Delaware on the Wheelabrator property. I am preparing a blog article on Washington Park, which I hope to post in the next month or so. The equipment attached to the horse is the ice cutter. One man in the background appears to have a spud in his hand for moving the blocks of ice and the other has a handsaw for freeing the blocks after the horse-drawn cutter makes the major cuts.
Our legacy started on 640 River Drive Westville, My father Joseph Cline purchased and lived his most memorable life there, and raised his family of 6 there. I wish he were alive to tell you everything you need to know of that surrounding area. He watched the city of Phila grow from tiny buildings to towers reaching the sky, and watched the tiniest of trees along the river bank grow to enormous trees. We had a wonderful life there on River Drive, and soon our legacy will no longer be our HOME SWEET HOME! Our wonderful walking wiki dad passed on Oct 19, 2012..I do know he and mom gave us the best of River Drive
Sorry to hear about the passing of your father. It would have been great to get his perspective on some of these glass negatives I’ve been posting. Thanks for commenting.