Looking at all the pictures my grandparents had amassed (see The great Schultz family photo project), knowing my mother’s interest in photography, and taking into account my chosen career, I started to wonder if fascination with pictures was something genetic. A passage in Mary Jane LaPlante’s diary provides more data to support my completely non-scientific theory. She talks of how she met my Great-great grandfather and the two of them worked as itinerant photographers.
Entry concerning 28 February 1897
“During the summer of 1896 two traveling photographers came to our little town, and when they came to take our picture on an August afternoon, we became acquainted with them. Ernest found many excuses to come to our place. He had a trip to make in the country and asked me to go along, but he being a stranger I would not go, for his eyes looked devilish to me.
We received our pictures and paid for them, and when they left town we heard from them no more until one day in October. I received a letter from the older one of the two, Ovid William LaPlount, and he promised me some pictures if I would answer him. My mother read the letter and said, “Now, I do not want you to answer that letter.” Well I had no intention of answering, for I was engaged to a fellow, Arthur Chadwick, but we had a quarrel, so for spite I did answer that letter.
That was the beginning. On Christmas he asked to come and visit us. My mother consented. He stayed for several days, and before he returned to his home he had Mother’s consent that early in spring we would be married. To tell you the real truth, I didn’t want to get married, but with mother and a man, I was railroaded right along. On February 28, 1897 we were married, and I went with him the next day to Kasson, Minnesota. There he had a five room house fitted up and we started our homemaking. He had a photographic studio there…
E.J. (Ernest, Ovid’s brother) left for spring work in photography. And we… rented the studio, and went from town to town. I was quickly taught to go from house to house making appointments to take pictures of the families, show proofs, take orders, and deliver same. I also learned to help in the making of pictures, for in those days developing papers had not been invented.
We did very well in a money making way. That fall we went back to the studio, but the other fellow had spoiled the business. We sold the studio, stored part of the equipment, and in summer we were on the road again.”