Thanatography Thursday Memorial: C. R. Travis (ca. 1860s -1940s)

Through the years I have collected a number of calling cards or cartes de visite of people I wish I could have known. Their likenesses always spurred a certain sense of nostalgia, they seemed so relatable yet always out of reach. And forgotten- the images that were once part of a family's treasures were now amongst a pile of the images of many other strangers atop an antique store.

They say that we die two deaths. The first death is that of our physical body, the second death happens when the last person that carries our memory dies.

Through this weekly feature I aim to give the long dead a second life, brief as it may be. So without further ado, let us remember:

C. R. Travis

of Lincoln, Nebrasca

His arresting face, hard to ignore among the other –mostly unnamed– 19th century strangers in the pile of cabinet cards I was shifting through, drew me to this purchase at the local antiques store. Not only was this cabinet card inscribed, but it was created by S. H. Waite, a photographer in Connecticut that rose to fame after none other than Frederick Douglas had his portrait taken by him.

But who was C. R. Travis?

Charles R. Travis appears to have been a tenor soloist and a well-respected professor of music. He had a wife who was also a singer, credited as a mezzo-soprano in April 16, 1911 edition of The San Bernardino County Sun. The couple performed both evangelical and secular music, like Linwood Randolph's piece Sometime, Somewhere, Someday and The Song that Reached my Heart (listen to it here sung by Henry Evans!) and were lauded for their efforts to campaign for the Evangelical Church.


Travis seemed to have traveled quite a bit in his musical career, making appearances in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Tennessee, California and elsewhere. He and his wife had a daughter named Hellen and a child lost in infancy.

I was unable to locate C.R. Travis' obituary or that of his wife, but I can only hope they led a long full life and never stopped singing.

C. R. Travis and Mrs. C.R. Travis, from 1911 and 1921 newspaper clippings respectively.

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#death #obituary #19thcentury #local #cabinetcard #thanatography #thanatographythursday

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