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Rare Photo Shows NH Revolutionary


Back in the limelight

Joe Bauman believes it is likely that George Fishley sat for his portrait at Ham’s studio during a Whig convention in July 1848. Fishley was a died-in-the-wool Whig. Local legend says that Fishley initially refused to shake hands with President James Polk during a rally in Portsmouth, saying he had no political sympathies with the man. Born under the reign of King George, he lived under the first 13 American presidents, just missing New Hampshire born Franklin Pierce, who became President Number 14 in 1853.

The complex daguerreotype process that required fixing images on a reflective silver surface was largely out of fashion by the Civil War. It was replaced by newer high-tech procedures leading to the familiar cartes de visite (CDV’s) that could be quickly printed on paper in quantity. Daguerreotypes, by contrast, were one-of-a-kind images, although they could be re-photographed by professionals like Francis Ham, who appears to have made at least one copy of Fishley’s portrait that was recently offered for sale on eBay,

Since 2002, Captain Fishley has been building his fan club. Although he is currently resting in the historical society archives, Fishley has twice been featured in museum exhibits. He gets a fair amount of email at my web site from readers across the country. Genealogists, veterans and patriotic groups want to know more about this curious continental patriot with the haunting eyes.

A park ranger at Valley Forge almost put Fishley’s photo on a national park t-shirt. His virtual fame is expanding throughout the Internet on web sites, news reports, chat rooms and even TV clips. Readers who Google "Joe Bauman" can see a video clip of the author on Utah television with all of his unique collection of images spread out on the coffee table in his living room.

Bauman is planning to turn his detailed study into a book. A second book including George Fishley is slated to appear this summer. Family history expert Maureen Taylor, better known as "the Photo Detective" will release The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation with co-author David Lambert, a genealogy expert.

These are pictures that require a double-take. These are men -- and still undiscovered women -- who fought, not to preserve America, but to create it. And there are more of them out there awaiting discovery, perhaps at your local historical society -- or in your attic.  


Copyright © 2010 by J. Dennis Robinson, all rights reserved. Robinson is owner of the history Web site and his column appears here every other Monday. His latest history book for children is Striking Back: The Fight to End Child Labor Exploitation.


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Monday, December 18, 2017 
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