Montgomery History New Online Exhibit: Montgomery County 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed

Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed

Montgomery History has launched a new online exhibit co-developed by Blog Author, Jeanne Gartner and Montgomery History Librarian & Archivist, Sarah Hedlund: “Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”. Explore Montgomery County and its environs in the early 20th century through the lens of Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. A pioneering automobile dealer and one of the most prolific photographers in Montgomery County at the turn of the 20th century, Reed took motorcycle excursions all over the state of Maryland with his camera, capturing landscapes, monuments, historical places, people, and anything else that caught his attention.

The presentation of the Lewis Reed collection features his photography in several themed exhibitions (Transportation, Photo-magic, Recreation, Daily Life and Community) which will be released separately over time. The first exhibition, “Transportation in Montgomery County”, features some of the earliest known photographs of various modes of transportation, from horses and canal boats to motorcycles and automobiles. It is an absolutely unique window into how Montgomery Countians lived over a century ago.

Click on the category you are interested in below to visit the various presentations and their photographic content. Through the lens of Lewis Reed, we see that Montgomery County’s history is America’s history.

  • Transportation: Lewis Reed loved moving vehicles and photographed the evolution of transportation happening around him at the turn of the century. Explore the pages on modes of transportation in Montgomery County from horse power to automobiles.
  • Photo-magic: Details how self-taught photographer and county native Lewis Reed edited photos before computers existed, using techniques like hand-tinting and double exposure.
  • Recreation: Enjoy a vicarious getaway by exploring the newest section of the Lewis Reed Photography online exhibit, “Recreation”. View these amazing photos to see how Montgomery Countians in the first half of the 20th century enjoyed fun in the sun — beach trips, camping, fishing, vacationing, attending fairs, and more. You’ll find many summer activities have stood the test of time!
  • Daily Life [coming soon!]
  • Community [coming soon!]

New Blog Feature: Then & Now

Then & Now

Looking back at photography from the past is a fascinating experience for me, and with a newfound interest in history, it occurred to me that with the vast number of historical photographs in Lewis Reed’s Collection, that this blog would be a great place to feature a series of Then & Now photography. I started doing this about a year ago as a research tool, now I mostly do it because of my passion for history and fascination with the subject. With that in mind, I will occasionally be spotlighting some “Then & Now” images from his collection that will show photographs of buildings, street scenes, and other historical locales alongside photographs of how they appear today.

Some of the historic locations in this series includes the Smithsonian, Capitol, Union Station, Old Post Office, Library of Congress, Raleigh Hotel, Key Bridge and other important sites in and around the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. There are also photographs of many non-Maryland locations including the historic landmark “Lucy the Elephant”, Gettysburg Battlefield, Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania Monument and United States Regulars Monuments under construction, and Quebec Bridge (the 8th Wonder of the World).

I have no formal history training, just a general interest in local history where I grew up. I will post one of Lewis Reed’s photographs matched with a corresponding contemporary shot of the same area, and supply a few sentences of context. All of them will in some way will offer a visual history of how things have changed over the years. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960)

Lewis Reed Photos

Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, was a well-known photographer in Montgomery County. Many of his photographs are now part of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Historical Society photo archives. He even developed his own photographs. He had a darkroom in his house —  in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives.

About This Collection:

Since I started this blog, I have had the opportunity to look through my grandfather’s extensive collection of photographs from historical locations not only in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia, but all across the country. The Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960) spotlights the photographs that I have been able to research and identify. There are 100+ blog posts within this section that gives a snapshot of what life was like more than 100 years ago. Highlights include the Black Rock Grist Mill, Rockville Water Tower, C&O Canal, 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, Rockville Fair dirt track races, Trolley Cars, Wright Brothers Airplane, and Quebec Bridge (8th Wonder of the World). Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. Many photographic images in this collection have never before been seen publicly in print.

Lewis Reed’s photography has appeared as a resource in highly regarded local history publications, and in historical television programming, including on the national television show American Pickers, Science Channel Impossible Engineering, Maryland Public Television, and the American Experience History Series on PBS.

If there’s an historical marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. Some of the markers that display his photographs include the Andrew Small Academy Marker in Darnestown, The Origins of Darnestown Marker, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station Marker in Gaithersburg, From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda, Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church Marker in Rockville and the 19th Century Crossroads Marker in Darnestown.

Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of manipulated photographs. He was 100 years ahead of his time by creating special effects to images long before the convenience and efficiency of digital photography and Photoshop were ever imaginable. Lewis Reed used a wide variety of effects, including hand-tinting, double exposure, applied handwork, and creating images that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture. It’s pretty amazing how his early photography shows such versatility and creativity considering the limited tools that were available at the time.

Click here to take a look back in time and explore the lives of those who have gone before us.

Note: All images are scanned from prints made from Lewis Reed’s original glass plate negatives. Glass plate negatives were in common use between the 1880s and the late 1920s. No touch-up or alteration has been done, in order to retain their historical essence.

Before There Was Photoshop, There Was Lewis Reed…

If you take a look at the state of photography today, such as the advances of digital cameras and the artful image manipulation by Photoshop, it is easy to forget that back in the 1900s photographers couldn’t just go into a computer program and change their images any way they wanted. They did what they could with the tools they had. Double image exposure was one tool Lewis Reed had in his photography tool belt. He was doing crazy things to images and creating humorous effects over 100 years ago. With double exposure technique, you could create certain effects like placing the same person on both sides of a picture simultaneously. Photographs were pieced together in the darkroom from separate photographs.

Spotting these manipulated photos in Lewis Reed’s extensive collection has been both easy and difficult. It wasn’t until I viewed the high resolution scan that the modification jumped out at me. The photograph below taken at Black Rock Mill, highlights Lewis Reed’s photo manipulation. (click image to enlarge)

Double exposure image at Back Rock Mill 1905

This is a double exposure photograph of Lewis Reed and the same two ladies with bundles of flowers appearing twice – standing on a bridge over Seneca Creek at Black Rock Mill – and on the left at the foot of the bridge. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1905

With double-exposure technique, Lewis Reed learned how to make a subject appear twice in a frame, as if they had an identical twin. To capture these images, he would snap a picture of the subject in one position. Then, he would have to move into another pose before the following photo was shot. Rotating lens caps and special glass plates (the precursor to film) were also part of the process. The final image was then pieced together and developed in the darkroom from the separate photographs. The result was a playful and surreal approach to early photographs.

Double exposure technique often left a telltale vertical line running down the center of the image that is lighter than the left and right sides — a fuzzy stripe separating the two exposures. This is the area where the two exposures overlapped. The picture is lighter where the images overlap because the exposure value is doubled (causing over-exposure) in that specific vertical area. The left half of the image (standing at the foot of the bridge) ends where the light band becomes dark on the right side. And vice versa for the right half of the image (standing on top of the bridge).

Today we are accustomed to Photoshop and people manipulating images, but back in the early 1900’s photo manipulation was used as a form of whimsy.

Lewis Reed Photos in Film Premiere: The Three (Known) Lynchings of Montgomery County, Maryland

These are screenshots of three of Lewis Reed’s photographs that appeared in the premiere screening of “The Three (Known) Lynchings of Montgomery County, Maryland” held Sunday, November 15, 2020 at a virtual event sponsored by the Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project. (click any image to view photo gallery)

Jay Malin, filmmaker and photographer:

I haven’t seen anything else that gives as good an idea of what Darnestown or Rockville or an ordinary road in the county looked like in the day of the horse and buggy…. As a photographer, I know we most often fail to photograph the aspects of daily life that would really be of interest to future generations. So to have a photo of a horse and buggy on a county road or of the almshouse, which is probably the last thing most people would have thought to photograph, is really great.

I know if my grandfather was here today, I am certain he would be truly humbled and pleased that his photography is being used to help educate future generations.

Lewis Reed’s photos have also been featured in historical television programming, including on the national television show American Pickers, Science Channel Impossible Engineering, Maryland Public Television, and the American Experience History Series on PBS.

Montgomery County Lynching Memorial Project
Jay Mallin Photos

Blog Milestone: 300K Page Views

If you ever glance at the blog view counter on the right side of this page, you might have noticed that this blog just went over 300,000 views. After reaching this milestone, I would like to take the time to thank all of you who have visited, followed, shared, or commented on this blog. Visitors to this site on a daily basis continue to grow — we have been visited by folks from all fifty of the United States and 187 different countries world wide.

I have often been asked why I started this blog. For me, it’s because history is important. Sometimes we don’t know we need to do something until it’s handed to us, and once we have it, we suddenly see and feel its value. As we were getting ready to close the doors to the dealership for the last time in May 2012, I was standing in the empty showroom thinking about all the history, past achievements, and hardships the dealership had endured over the years. Few businesses can say they’ve lasted almost a century. It seemed a particularly pertinent time to start thinking about such a project, as it was a time of reminiscence, but also looking forward.

When I stop to think about what Reed Brothers Dodge has experienced over the last century, from World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, to three economic recessions, two energy crises, and numerous Chrysler setbacks — including the first Chrysler Bailout, the sale of Chrysler to Daimler, and the sale to the private equity firm Cerberus — I could not be more proud to be a part of such an amazing story. It takes resilience to weather 97 years in business. The dealership adapted itself multiple times in order to survive. Through the good times and the bad, Reed Brothers Dodge held on and prospered.

I felt it was important to take the time to ensure our history remained accessible for those who read it years from now, or decades from now, when I or other family members who know the story firsthand are no longer around to tell it. How Reed Brothers Dodge came into being, and how the company overcame the inevitable changes and challenges throughout almost a century of being in business — all adds up to a great story.

Creating this blog and sharing our business history has been the most rewarding endeavor of my life. I appreciate all of you for your continued support and making Reed Brothers Dodge History one of the places you visit during the course of your day.

Thanks for reading!

Jeanne Gartner, Blog Author

A WWI Tribute to Edgar Reed on Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a time to recognize the veterans in our lives — to honor their service for our country and show them that we appreciate their sacrifices made in our behalf. World War I began 102 years ago and later ended on November 11, 1918. In commemoration of Veterans Day, this very special post is in honor of the contributions Sergeant Edgar Reed made for our country during World War I.

Edgar Reed World War I

Edgar Reed, partner with brother Lewis, in Reed Brothers Dodge. Photo taken ca. 1918 by Lewis Reed.

Edgar was a partner with his brother Lewis Reed, in Reed Brothers Dodge. I never got to know my great uncle Edgar like the rest of the Reed family, because he passed away the year after I was born. My mother told me she took me to the hospital right after I was born to meet Edgar, but of course, I have no recollection of that. I do, however, feel like I know him through all of the family stories and photographs I have spent archiving over the last ten years.

Edgar Reed, WWI

Edgar, center. Photo taken ca. 1918 by Lewis Reed.

Edgar Reed

Edgar at Hotel Cape May, New Jersey during World War I. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1918

On September 28, 1917 a draft for World War I began and the first 40 men reported for duty at the Montgomery County Court House in Rockville, Maryland. In the photograph below, cars are parked around the court house during the speech-making in the court room to drafted men. Montgomery County’s first recruits left Rockville by train for Camp Meade, Maryland on this same day. They each received a package of smoking tobacco and a rousing send-off from two thousand people after speeches at the courthouse, dinner at the Montgomery House Hotel, and a parade to the depot. About 160 Rockville men served in the eighteen-month war. One of those men was Rockville resident, Edgar Reed.

Montgomery County Court House 1917

Montgomery County Court House. Note two tags on the cars; it was necessary to have DC as well as Maryland tags if the car was to be driven in DC. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1917.

Edgar Reed (1890–1951) was born in Darnestown, Maryland on October 17, 1890. On February 26, 1918 at the age of 27 years old, Edgar was enlisted into the U.S. Army as a Private. At this time, he lived on Montgomery Avenue in Rockville. He had been employed by R.W. Vinson, Rockville druggist for eight years.

On April 27, 1918, Edgar was promoted to the rank of Private First Class, and on February 14, 1919, he was promoted to Sergeant. According to “Maryland Military Men, 1917-1918”, Edgar served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from February 1918 to August 1919. He had been posted to GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 16, NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT and GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 11, CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY.

The spirit of patriotic service which swept the country prompted many persons to offer their properties to the War Department for hospital purposes. These offers included buildings of every conceivable kind, such as department stores, private establishments, hospitals, and properties in large cities. It was found that many of these could be obtained and converted into hospitals much more expeditiously than barrack hospitals could be constructed, and at less cost.

The Surgeon General recommended that the War Department authorize the leasing of the Hotel Cape May in New Jersey for use as a general hospital on December 18, 1917. The Hotel Cape May was located on the Ocean Drive, at the eastern end of the city, and within 100 feet of the beach of the Atlantic Ocean. Opened first as GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 16, the designation was changed to GENERAL HOSPITAL NO. 11, March 14, 1918. The enlisted personnel were quartered in tents which were located to the rear of the building.

At eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, World War I fighting came to an end when an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations went into effect. On August 4, 1919, Edgar was transferred to the Demobilization Center at Camp Lee, Virginia and was honorably discharged on August 6, 1919.

Pictured below is Edgar Reed’s World War I draft card, signed and dated June 5, 1917.

Below is Edgar Reed and friends returning home on the train after the war ended wearing the World War I “Victory Medal” on their lapels.

Edgar Reed WWI

Edgar Reed, right. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Edgar Reed WWI

This photo captures the moment Edgar Reed (left) and friends arrived home from World War I. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Edgar was fortunate enough to survive World War I and to settle back in Rockville and enjoy a successful life and career in the automobile business. After returning from the war in 1919, Edgar joined his brother in the business and the name changed to Reed Brothers Dodge. Edgar was in the automobile business with his brother, Lewis, for 35 years until his death in 1951.

So while we honor all who served this Veterans Day, on this day, I salute you Edgar Reed, and thank you for your service to our country.

Sources:
U.S. Army Office of Medical History
Ancestry.com
Maryland Military Men, 1917-1918

A Look Back at What Halloween in Montgomery County Looked Like 100 Years Ago

Ever wondered how Montgomery County families celebrated Halloween 100 years ago? Thanks to the these photographs from Lewis Reed’s collection, we can travel all the way back to 1914.

At the turn of the century, women often wore their regular clothes topped with homemade masks. The first Halloween costumes were usually worn by women and reflected the idea of masquerades that was extremely popular in the early 1900s. People only began to buy manufactured costumes in the second and third decades of the 20th century.

1900s Halloween costumes

Halloween, ca. 1914. These women are holding homemade Halloween masks for their upcoming celebration. Photo by Lewis Reed

Oh the good ol’ days, when wearing a mask was enough to be dressed up for celebrations! Do you know how your ancestors’ celebrated Halloween? Newspapers are a great source to get a better understanding of life in the past. This special post is a look back through newspaper articles and Lewis Reed’s photographs at how Halloween was celebrated 100 years ago.

Stocked Stores: Stores were stocked with all the Halloween supplies needed for a fun celebration. Below is an ad for costumes and masquerade suits for those participating in Halloween parties and other seasonal affairs.

1916 Halloween Costumes

The Washington Post, October 30, 1916

Dancing and Parties: Halloween parties and dancing were enjoyed by many. Some announcements even included a list of guests in attendance!

Halloween Dancing in 1912

The Baltimore Sun, November 3, 1912

Here is the description of a Halloween party from the Society Section of the November, 1916 issue of The Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia):

A Halloween party was given last evening… and a merry evening spent by those present. The reception hall, living and dining rooms were artistically decorated with autumn leaves, lanterns, chrysanthemums and orange and black streamers. The evening was spent in old-fashioned games, concluding with the entire assemblage gathering about an open fireplace in the dark, while the guests were led by a ghost through various parts of the darkened home. The evening’s entertainment concluded with music, dancing and the serving of refreshments.

1900s Halloween

This photo captures a moment from a Halloween gathering over 100 years ago. Photo by Lewis Reed

Any sort of Halloween festivities demanded some sort of refreshment. In addition to traditional pumpkin pies and molasses cookies, a suggested dish to serve at Halloween parties was a Halloween salad.

Halloween Salad

Halloween Pranks: Witches and goblins, ghosts and mischief-making youngsters were permitted to enjoy all the Halloween revelry they liked … BUT DON’T THROW FLOUR. Yes, apparently in the early 1900s, there wasn’t much to do for entertainment, so kids would knock on doors on Halloween night and throw flour at whoever answered. To the modern observer, some of the traditions of Halloween 100 years ago are downright bizarre.

1916 Halloween Pranks

The Evening Star, October 31, 1916

Halloween Parades: Halloween parades actually began because pranks and mischief had gotten out of control. By 1920, there was a push to turn Halloween into a holiday centered around community gatherings and festive Halloween parades, rather than mischief. 

Early 1900s Halloween Clown

There is something undeniably creepy about this clown in sunglasses riding on a horse in a Halloween Parade. Location is unknown. Photo by Lewis Reed

With the convergence of a full moon, a blue moon, and daylight saving time — plus the unprecedented events of this year — Halloween 2020 will truly be one to remember. In fact, a Halloween such as this won’t happen again for at least another 152 years. Wishing all my friends, followers, and visitors of this blog a very safe and happy Halloween!

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