100 years ago: Fire and Frost

Today we consider some snippets from a long article that appeared 100 years ago today in the Groton Times newspaper in New Hampshire, about a fire that occurred on January 31, 1924 in Littleton, New Hampshire. It’s noteworthy because the article it mentions that people affected by the fire include Julia Eaton: up until just a few years before, Julia A. Eaton had been a working as very successful photographer, with her own studio there in Littleton, NH.

But she closed her studio in 1922, so her photography business wasn’t one of the many businesses burned down by this 1924 fire, although it did burn down the place Julia was living (together with her brother Harry Eaton and and his wife.) Luckily, the Eatons were not injured, although they did lose their home.

Clipping #1 from article about the fire in LIttleton, NH in 1924 (Groton Tmes, February 1, 1924 (p8)
clipping #2 from article on Littleton 1924 fire
Clipping #2 from article about the fire in Littleton, NH in 1924 (Groton Tmes, February 1, 1924 (p8)

Before she retired, Julia A. Eaton had been a very successful and well-known photographer, working for a number of years at the start of the 20th century in Littleton, NH.

Julie began her career in 1903 with her sister Myra; the two women opened the Misses Eaton studio in Littleton, NH, running the studio together until Myra’s untimely death from heart disease in 1909.

But Julia Eaton continued to do photography on her own until the early 1920s.

Along the way, she takes a picture of a young poet named Robert Frost. This photo turns out to be one of Frost’s favorite portraits of himself, and it is used in publicity for at least 3 of his early books of poems.

Photo of Robert Frost, taken by Julia A. Eaton

It’s always fun to realize that there were these women photographers who were known in their own lifetime for taking great portraits, sometimes even taking them of famous people! Here on Photographs, Pistols & Parasols we’re encountered other photographers and the famous folks who sat for them, e.g. Mabel Sykes and Lydia J. Cadwell. One seeming difference, though, with Miss Eaton and her photo of Robert Frost is that I’m not sure Robert Frost was famous when she took his photo.

When Julia dies in 1959 at the age of 94, her obit says she was a teacher, and doesn’t mention her decades as a photographer. But she was one – and a good one – and one who took a photo that was and is still celebrated and used in books about Robert Frost.