This series of post are for the citizens and former citizens (like myself) of Westville, New Jersey which just celebrated it’s centennial recently. This photo and the ones I will be posting in coming weeks are almost as old as the town and were shot by John B. Capewell who lived on Broadway.
I had sent the photos in this series to the incomparable Jerseyman who is all too generous with his great wealth of knowledge regarding the history of the fine State of New Jersey, and he, of course, delivered the goods! Jerseyman responded:
These images are fabulous! All of the photographs are of various organizations associated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), a fraternal organization. The local lodge of IOOF in Westville, which met at the Union Fire Company’s hall on Broadway, was the Crown Point Lodge no. 268.
Jerseyman had more to say, but I’ll save that for future posts.
The gentleman on the left has a banner that reads IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Westville which was how this photo was identified as far as place and who these fellows may have been. Being that Westville just celebrated it’s 100th birthday, I’m hoping the historical juices are flowing and someone out there can supply names to these faces.
I had heard of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, but I always assumed that it was some sort of gentleman’s club or group of eccentrics who met in paneled rooms, wore smoking jackets and smoked Turkish cigarettes in holders. I figured they fizzled out in the 1920s, but as it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth. They were and are a charitable organization and they still exist. I guess that I thought it odd that they were called Odd Fellows, but there are a number of theories as to their name of which this one sounds reasonable:
One says that they were called “odd” because in the beginning of Odd Fellowship in the 18th century, at the time of industrialization, it was rather odd to find people who followed noble values such as benevolence, charity and fraternalism.
Capewell took a couple of negatives of these gentlemen from the same position so I’ve included them both in this post.
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. They came out better than I thought they would so I thought I would show them off to the world on this site. 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!
Last Week: Three Fellows in the Woods