Sun 7 May 2006
MARY JANE MORGAN, was born on August 10, 1844 in Oquawka, Henderson Co., Illinois to James Morgan and Mary Ann Blackburn. She was a middle child of a family of eight kids. In 1852, she and her family, including my great-great grandmother (her youngest sister) Salome Morgan (at age 4) made the over land trip to Santa Cruz, California. She was eight years old. Her uncle was Judge William Blackburn. Mary Jane Morgan met her husband, pioneer photographer William H. Rulofson, in 1867 while working as a receptionist at the respected Bradley & Rulofson Gallery. They were married on July 17, 1867 in Santa Cruz and although Morgan is never listed as a photographer, she is acknowledged to have been an artistic force in the gallery.â€1
William Hermanes RulofsonÂ was born on September 27, 1826 in Hampton, Kings County, New Brunswick. He was the son of William Herman Rulofson and Pricilla Amelia Howard. William H. Rulofson, found fame in San Francisco during the 1860s and early 1870s.Â He originally came around the Horn from St. Johnâ€™s Newfoundland, in 1851, and after a year or so of mining in Sonora returned across the plains to Missouri to meet his wife, Amelia V. (Currie) Rulofson, who had journeyed alone from Newfoundland.Â Retuning to California, Mr. Rulofson established in Sonora the first permanent photograph gallery in the State.Â He came to San Francisco in 1861 and resumed photography under the firm name of Bradley & Rulofson.He was the brother of a notorious murderer, Edward Rulloff, who said, “I donâ€™t want any minister to pray for me. But if you want a minister there to pray for the crowd, I wonâ€™t object”,Â upon the event of his hanging (for robbery-homicide) in 1871 in front of a crowd of 5,000 picnickers in Binghamton, NY (source: Cornell Magazine, 10/96). This would no doubt weigh on him.He was the father of Alfred C. Rulofson, head of A.C. Rulofson Company and pioneer of metal window works. In the Book, Rogue Scholar, had this to say about Rulofson:
â€œâ€¦William Herman Rulofson, the junior partner of Bradley and Rulofsonâ€™s Photographic Gallery at the corner of Montgomery and Sacramento Streets, an excellent viewing point for the parade as it passed along Montgomery.
In the census of 1870, the value of the gallery was reported as thirty thousand dollars for the real estate and forty thousand dollars for the contents. It would shortly be improved by the installation of an elevatorâ€”driven by a hydraulic engine attached to the city water systemâ€”to raise sitters comfortably to the studios on the upper floors where natural light could be admitted and regulated through â€œthe largest sky-light in North America.â€
William was a booster for photography, and he predicted that it would go beyond art to foster â€œthe progress of civilizationâ€ in myriad ways including aiding â€œjustice by detecting the criminal.â€Â So it would shortly do.William was a wealthy and honored man, who, having been in California since 1849, had qualiâ€¹ed himself for membership in the Society of California Pioneers. A brief episode of gold mining instructed him that the way to wealth lay in photography, a skill he had mastered before leaving Canada. With a huge wagon set up as a â€œdaguerreotype saloon,â€ he plied his trade in the goldâ€¹elds before settling in Sonora, where once he managed to save his studio from a fire by having a team of oxen draw it out of harmâ€™s way. In 1863, he had moved to San Francisco, where he remained until the end of his life, as he grew increasingly prominent in photography. (In 1873, he was to win a gold medal at a competition in Vienna, and in 1874 he would be elected president of the National Photographic Association.) Innovation and creativity lay at the heart of his success. In a wonderful combination of the two modes of representation then competing with each other, he turned a room into a camera and produced life-size photographs. He then engaged a painter to add colors to make the image even more lifelike. He was a founding member of the Bohemian Club and its offcial photographer. Beneath this surface of respectability and success lay small deceptions and dissimulations. One of his death notices declared that he was a native of Pennsylvania, another that he had been born in Maine. Rulofson liked to relate that he had been shipwrecked in 1846 and landed, after â€œprolonged suffering,â€ destitute, at Liverpool. Only his skill as a photographer, he said, had enabled him to earn his return passage. He wanted people to believe that he had overcome obstacles through self-reliance, ability, and determination. Only much later did close inquiry reveal that the ship in question was outbound from Liverpool when it went aground, and that its passengers were given free passage on the next available ship. Many episodes mentioned in reports of his election as president of the Photographic Association were similarly fictitious: he had not, for instance, been as a teenager â€œa wanderer over many lands, including Europe, America, and the islands of the sea.
Williamâ€™s biographies did not mention that in 1847, in Canada, he had made pregnant a fourteen-year-old girl: Amelia Violet Currie (1833â€“67). Their son was born there in 1848, and one of his biographers presumes that the precocious marriage may have hastened his departure, alone, for California. He returned for his family in 1850, and Amelia would bear five more children. She died at the end of January in 1867, and four months later William was married a second time, now to twenty-two year-old Mary Jane Morgan, then employed as a receptionist at his studio. This union produced another five children. His second son, between the time of his motherâ€™s death and his fatherâ€™s remarriage, went to sea â€œto escape the severity of his fatherâ€™s punishmentâ€; on his return, father and son agreed that the captain of the vessel should adopt the nineteen-year oldÂ boy.
In 1874, William would stand up for one of his employees, Eadweard Muybridge, who had killed his wifeâ€™s lover. Muybridge would be acquitted, in part on Williamâ€™s testimony that a â€œcrime of passionâ€ was only a manly act. In 1875, the youngest daughter of his first wife (note: SF Call has a Mattie Palmer Rulofson, age 12 dying in 1877) would die under suspicious circumstances; the inquest finding â€œwelts . . . presumed to have been indicted by her half-brother, Charles,â€ then nine years old. The old man seems to have spawned a young killer.
These acts of violence do not â€¹nd their way into Williamâ€™s photography, but they are vividly on display in a book published in 1877 that he claimed to be his own, The Dance of Death. It is a violent attack on the â€œintolerable nastinessâ€ of the waltz, and a morbid anatomy of sexual desire. A man leading his partner in the dance is vividly described: â€œhis eyes, gleaming with a fierce intolerable lust, gloat satyr like over her.â€Â When it was published, some reviewers thought it must be a hoax, and Ambrose Bierce, who knew about its composition, later alleged that it was. Years later, Bierce said: â€œW. H. Rulofson (the â€œWilliam Hermanâ€™ of the title-page) . . . suggested the scheme and supplied the sinews of sin,â€ and the precise sharing of the authorship is unimportant for an understanding of Rulofson. William claimed the book, and no one denied his ownership of its message. A few months before his death, he told a visitor to the studio: â€œI have shown society what a loathsome ulcer festers in its midst.â€ For William, the book was no hoax, and the waltz was a matter of secret, hidden horror. That it was seen as hyperbole is a measure of how far it departed from even the most extreme expressions of moral outrage of the day, a time when fervor against sin ran high.”
Don S. writes that A Capt. Winder found himself in an awkward situation the next summer when he authorized commercial photographers Bradley and Rulofson to take photos of Fortress Alcatraz. Prints of the 50 photos were to be sold to the public to offset the photographersâ€™ expenses. The War Department in Washington, D.C. did not commend Winder for his initiative and pride in his post, but rather questioned Winderâ€™s motives because his father was an officer in the Confederate Army. The Secretary of War ordered all the prints and negatives to be confiscated as a threat to national security. Rulofson was arrested, but later released. Later, Captain Winder humbly requested a transfer to Point San Jose, a small defense post on the mainland.“Mr. Bradley (now of Bradley &Rulofson), the daguerreanâ€“there were no
photographers in those daysâ€“practised his art on the west side of
Montgomery, between Washington and Jackson. His prices werefrom eight
dollars upwards, according to the size and style of the portrait and
frame. The courteous artist was hardly allowed time to breathe, much less
to eat, or take a momentâ€™s rest for a day or two before the departure of a
steamer. Californians were so anxious that their friends in civilized
countries should see just how they looked in their mining dress, with
their terrible revolver, the handle protruding menacingly from the
holster, somehow, twisted in front, when sitting for a daguerreotype to
send â€œto the States.â€- Men and Memories of San Francisco – Chapters XIII-XVIBradley & Rulofsonâ€™s photography business had done well enough by 1872 for them to build a handsome building and advertise it in a woodcut on the wrappers of â€œKnight Templarâ€™s Grand Entree March,â€ distributed in white, pink, and green (at right). Theatergoers could purchase sheet music with actual photographs of singers in costume mounted on multicolor printed or lithographic frames. Occasionally even the individual photographerâ€™s name would be printed below the print, as that of â€œMax Bachert, Artistâ€ below â€œThe Great Vivianâ€, posed with hand on tiger skin on â€œMoet and Chandon.â€The Centennial Celebration on Sunday, October 8, 1876, of the founding of the Presidio of San Francisco and the Mission Dolores, may be truly described as a memorable event in the annals of the commercial metropolis of California.
Source: Davis, William Heath.
Seventy-five Years in San Francisco. 1929: San Francisco.
â€œNeither Rulofson nor any other of our most skilled photographers could produce as perfect a picture of Father AmorÃ³s than that which we have before us in the person of our venerable Archbishop, Joseph Sadoc Alemany.â€
From Womenâ€™s Photography After the Gold Rush, by Mary Brown:
â€œWomen whose contributions are consistently overlooked are the wives of re-renowned photographers. From Womenâ€™s Photography After the Gold Rush, byWhen William died after 11 years of marriage, Morgan, at 33 years old, took control of his share of Bradley & Rulofson and remained in charge until 1889. A letter recorded in the galleryâ€™s business log remarked (in a time of very few businesswomen) on her exemplary business acumen:â€œReally I cannot see the slightest objection to her going to the head of the business [of Bradley & Rulofson]â€¦ you will find her quick eye and keen perception â€” of great â€” indeed incalculable value to your business â€” and I think, moreover, the influence of her presence will be very beneficial.â€According to the 1880 Census, William Rulofson and Mary Jane Morgan’s children were: Charles (b. 1868), Mary (b. 1869), Caroline (b. 1873), and Victor (b. 1878 in France).Nov. 2,1879:Â W. H. Rulofson killed in San Francisco by a fall. Had been one of Tuolumne’s prominent citizens in early days. In Langley’s 1879 San Francisco City Directory, it lists a W.H. Rulofson, Sr., photographer, killed by fall. According to the coroner’s report, W.H. Rulofson had:
“Four dollars (coin), two dollars (currency), gold watch and chain, gold ring, plain gold ring, two hundred shares mining stock, two car tickets, pair eye-glasses, pass key, wallet and papers.Â November 8, 1878:Â Delivered to P.L. BENJAMIN, upon written order from Mrs. W.H. RULOFSON, wife of deceased.”
Family lore speculates as to whether William Rulofson fell off or jumped off a building. Antiquarian books say, “Fate was not kind to the pranksters. Rulofson and Harcourt both died by suicide, and Bierce disappeared into Mexico in search of “euthanasia” (quoting one of his last letters).”
There is also a rumor that after William Rulofson died, his widow Mary Jane Morgan took his negative plates and sold them to an artist who used them to construct a greenhouse in the east bay.
In the Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 43rd Congress, 1st Session on THURSDAY, December 4, 1873, there was a motion by a Mr. Luttrell: “The memorial of William H. Rulofson for relief”
Mary Jane died on July 14, 1914 in San Francisco. She was the mother of Charles Rulofson of Seattle, James M.Â RulofsonÂ of San Francisco, and Victor Rulofson of Santa Cruz. Carrie C. Rulofson of Santa Cruz was listed as a daughter of Mrs. M.J. Rulofson of Bay Street on the hill (Santa Cruz?) and sister of James M. Rulofson. Carrie C. Rulofson married Earl C. Stice of Santa Rosa on May 9th, 1893 in Santa Cruz.
Mary Jane’s son, James M. Rulofson married Mabel Hull of Santa Cruz on April 20, 1909 in Seattle.
There is a listing of a Victor Eugene Rulofson marrying a Mabel Louise Wilder on December 25, 1904 when he was 26 and she was 21.
According to anÂ October 20, 1915Â Hall of Records Deed Transactions in the Santa Cruz Surf (column 4), “In the matter of estate of Mary Jane Rulofson, deceased: Order authorizing lease of real estate, about 16 acres at N. W. corner of Bay and Kenneth streets.”