Sunday, December 30, 2018

Who is Augustus F Sherman, Augustus Frederick Sherman who photographed Ellis Island immigrants?

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Last week I saw for the first time the portrait photographs taken by Ellis Island immigration clerk Augustus F Sherman, Augustus Frederick Sherman. I was captivated by all the different people and amazing photographic skills for that time. Obviously the colorization was done recently. I wanted to learn more about Augustus but couldn't find much information so I did some digging.

Augustus Frederick Sherman was born July 9, 1865 in Lynn, Pennsylvania. His parents were Henry Nathaniel 1832-1887 and Estella Theresa Handric 1838-1912. Augustus had two older brothers, Henry Handrick Sherman 1860-1918 and Douglas Parrish Sherman 1862 who died at a young age before 1870.

Doing research through old newspapers I came across a few mentions of Augustus Sherman. Below are the mentions in chronological order. I think no one could find his obituary in the last 100 years because they searched New York where he died and not Pennsylvania where he was raised and buried. I added all their obituaries to Findagrave but people are taking off my credit.

1893. A $95 Remington typewriter was stolen from Augustus' office. "The complaining was Augustus F. Sherman, Secretary of the Tammany Hall Organization of the Ninth Assembly District at 587 Hudson street."

1894 he's listed as a clerk.

1895. "Mr. Tamsen was able to oblige John C. Sheehan, the Tammany Police Commissioner, whose clerk at headquarters, Augustus F. Sherman, is a brother of Henry Sherman, the under-sheriff. Augustus, who at the time of his appointment was secretary of the Tammany Hall Committee in the IXth District.

1895 is when he started working on Ellis Island. From the Evening World, New York, Jan 3, 1895.

SHEEHAN'S SECRETARY GOES. Sherman Resigns to Accept a Position on Ellis Island. Augustus F. Sherman, private secretary to Police Commissioner J.C. Sheehan, has tendered his resignation to the Commissioner, to take effect as soon as his successor shall be appointed. Mr. Sherman was appointed by Commissioner Voorhis, now Police Justice, and served under him until he resigned to accept the position of Police Justice. He was retained under Commissioner Sheehan, who succeeded Voorhis. Mr. Sherman has accepted an appointment as stenographer to the Emigration Commissioners on Ellis Island, to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of his brother, Henry Sherman, who has been appointed Under Sheriff. His salary as private secretary was $1,700 (per year); that of his new position is $1,800, with a prospect of it being raised to $2,500.

1899 he's listed as working for the military or civil service as a clerk in New York. His wages were $1,800 per year.

1899. "Augustus Sherman, formerly of this city, now clerk to the commissioner of immigration, New York, visited a number of Wilkes-Barre friends Monday."

1900 he's listed as a personal secretary in Manhattan, New York. He lived with his mother in New York per the census.

1901 he's stationed at Ellis Island working for Immigration Service at Large getting $1,800 per year. .

1903 same job but getting $2,000 per year.

1905 Chief clerk, Ellis Island, N.Y. getting $2,500 per year. This is when he started taking the photos. He was now in charge of the appeals division which people refer to as "special investigations." This is for immigrants who were initially denied. No wonder they allowed him to take those photos. They wanted to become citizens. They were not going to say no. They might have even thought it was part of the process. They physically examined the people for disease, disability, psychological or intellectual issues. Taking photos wouldn't be worse than that. Still, some of the people don't look too happy in the photos. The photos were taken from 1905 to 1920 when he was the Chief Clerk over appeals. It makes you wonder if he used his position to take these personal photos. Photos were not yet a part of the immigration process. He told some of the people to put on their best clothing or folk attire, to hold items such as a flute or whatever.

1908 he invited a couple for dinner on the island. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. The woman E.S. Kelly described the trip. Oct 1, 1908, Tunkhannock New Age, Tunkahannock, Pennsylvania.

"Monday, the 21st, we were invited to go over to Ellis Island to dinner by F. Augustus Sherman, son of the late Henry Sherman, of Wilkes -Barre, formerly of this place, who has been employed on the Island for many years as secretary of emigration. The building covers two acres. A commodious dining room for the employees and to accommodate visitors. A large dining room for the emigrants, who are fed by the Government while detained. Our dinner was most excellent, consisting of various meats and wild fowl with all their etceteras accompanying. The emigration is very light now, but 200 arrived while we were there, and ushered into the different aisles for the different nationalities. These are long aisles with a seat on one side, one being filled alter another. On the outer end are the examining officials, when quickly examine papers and money, directed by others where to go, except the doubtful, who are escorted to another room to await their turn to go before the board of examiners, where they are put through a rigid examination and all undesirables sent back from whence they came. We were ivited by one of the board to a chair in the inner office. One woman was ushered in, and with tremulous lip answered through an interpreter the quick and pointed question, and soon ushered out. We inquired the result. The answer, "Admitted." I think we felt a relief as well as did the woman."

1909 same.

1910 in the census for New York he's listed as chief clerk for immigration services. He was a lodger in an apartment building living with his widowed mother Estella Sherman.

1913 he was the best man at a friend's wedding in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The friend was Carl Fowler Price. "The best man was Augustus F. Sherman."

1915 chief clerk in New York.

1916. Augustus is in charge of the routine affairs of the island, "Apart from the assumption of command by Mr. Densmore, the routine affairs of the island are being administered by Augustus Sherman, chief clerk, who entered the immigration service some twelve years ago and served in the days of Commissioners Williams and Watchorn." New-York Tribute.

1922. "Augustus Sherman of Ellis Islad, N.Y., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Sherman, visited his aunt, Mrs. Stephen Tuttle, a couple of days last week." The Montrose Democrate, Montrose, Pennsylvania.

1923 he gives away his niece Estelle M Sherman for her wedding to John S. Littell. "The bride who was given in marriage by her uncle, Augustus F. Sherman." Estelle's father died before her marriage.

1924 he was living at 174 Denman St, Queens, New York on the voter list.

1925. "AUGUSTUS F. SHERMAN. Augustus F. Sherman, aged 59 died Monday night in New York City hospital of endo-carditis (heart valve infection). He spent his boyhood days in Wilkes-Barre where he graduated from the city high school. He was secretary of the immigration commission at Ellis Island for many years. Mr. Sherman was the son of the late Henry Sherman who for a number of years was in the produce commission business on Northampton. He was first cousin to Dr S. Kelly of this city. Interment will be in Tunkhannock cemetery on Saturday." Wilkes-Barre Times, Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Transcription by Mary Cummins.

1925. "SHERMAN - In New York City, February 16, 1925 Augustus F. Sherman, aged 59, formerly of Wilkes-Barre, of endrocarditis." The Wilkes-Barre Record, Feb 18, 1925. Transcription by Mary Cummins.

Augustus was never married.

Below is his father's obituary.

Henry N. Sherman, the Wellknown Commission Merchant Passes Away After a Long Illness. At 8 am. yesterday Henry N. Sherman, of the firm of Sherman & Lathrop wholesale commission merchants, on Northampton street, this city, died very suddenly at his residence, over his establishment. Death was caused by paralysis of the heart, brought on by Bright's disease (inflammation of the kidneys), with which he had been ailing for three years. He was born at Washington, Litchfield county, Conn., on Nov. 25, 1832, and he was thus precisely fifty-five years of age. He was married about twenty-eight years ago. He was in the mercantile business at Tunkhannock for eight or nine years in company with Dr. L.B. Lathrop. He left Tunkhannock and went to New York, where he was engaged in the same business for three years. He then came to Wilkes-Barre, and in 1875, he and Dr. Lathrop, who now resides at Springfield, Susquehanna county, Pa., entered into a partnership which has just been severed by Mr. Sherman's death. He was well-to do, was a shrewd business man and a good citizen. He was a member and a communicant of St. Stephen's Episcopal church and a member of a Masonic Lodge at Tunkhannock. He leaves a wife and two sons, viz: Augustus F. and Henry H., who are both employed in New York City. They both came home to spend Thanksgiving and upon reaching here learned for the first that their father was cold in death. Their feeling can better be imagined than described. The funeral took place on Saturday afternoon. Brief services will be held at the house at 1 pm. and then the remains were taken to Tunkhannock for interment. The Masons had charge of the funeral. Sunday News, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Nov 27, 1887. Transcribed by Mary Cummins.

Below is obituary for his mother.

Mrs Sherman. Estella T. Sherman, relict of the late Henry N. Sherman, formerly of Tunkhannock, died Jan. 23, 1912, in New York City. She was the mother of attorney Henry H. Sherman and Augustus Sherman of New York; and two sisters, Mrs. Stephen Tuttle, and Mrs. J.K. Aldrich, of, Springville, survive, also two brothers, Julian P Handrick, of Binghamton, and Fred, of Wrayswood, Ga. Her age was 73 years and 8 months. Funeral services were held in New York on Wednesday afternoon with burial in Tunkhannock, Thursday, at 3 p.m., in Gravel Hill cemetery beside her husband. Rev. John Miller, of Tunkbannock, conducted the service at the grave. The bearers were; B.W. Lewis, J. K. Slauson. F. S. Sitser, L T. Burns,  Theodore Streeter, under taker. The Montrose Democrat, Montrose, Pennsylvania, Feb 1, 1912. Transcription by Mary Cummins.

Below is the obituary for his brother. They both worked at Ellis Island and other offices.

SHERMAN - Henry H., aged 58, husband of Jessie Wheaton Sherman and brother of Augustus F. Sherman, after lingering illness, on Tuesday, July 30, 1918. Funeral services at his late residence, 1006 Trinity Avenue, Bronx, on Thursday at 8 P.M. Interment at Tunkhannock, Pa., on Friday. Tunkhannock papers please copy. New York Herald, Aug 1, 1918. Transcribed by Mary Cummins.

HENRY H. SHERMAN FOR UNDER SHERIFF. He is a secretary of the State Democracy's County Committee. Sheriff-elect Tamsen has selected as his Under Sheriff Henry H. Sherman, who is one of the Secretaries of the New York State Democracy's County Committee. The salary of the place is $5,000 a year, and its present incumbent is William H. McDonough. Mr. Sherman is at present private secretary to Dr. Senner, Commissioner of Immigration. He is a lawyer, and was at one time a partner of Andrew D. Parker. He was a stenographer in the Mayor's office under Mayor Abram S. Hewitt. He was also at one time managing clerk for Charles F. MacLean, the ex-Police Commissioner, who has been appointed counsel to Sheriff Tamsen.... The New York Times, Dec 23 1894. Transcription by Mary Cummins.

Sherman-Rhoads Nuptials. On Saturday morning Rev. Henry L. Jones, rector of St. Stephen's, spoke the words which linked for life the accomplished violinist of this city, Mrs. Jessie Wheaton Rhoads and Mr. Henry Handrick Sherman of New York City, eldest son of the late H. N. Sherman, of this city. The ceremony was performed at the residence of the bride's parents, Dr. and Mrs. T. J. Wheaton, 39 South Main Street, in the presence of only the immediate friends. After a wedding breakfast Mr. Sherman and his bride took the train for New York, where they enter at once upon the joys and tribulations of housekeeping. The groom is a lawyer as also private secretary to Mayor Hewitt. At one time he was stenographer to Gov. Tilden. The bride was a prominent figure in Wilkes-Barre social circles and her departure will be keenly felt. She is a sister of Councilman F. W. Wheaton. Record of the Times, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Apr 6, 1888. Transcription by Mary Cummins.

Henry worked at Ellis Island then worked as an Under Sheriff of New York city then became a lawyer. He was a New York lawyer and also a private secretary to Mayor Hewitt. He was once a stenographer to Governor Tiden.

March 31, 1888 Henry married Jessie Wheaton Rhoads in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Together they had three children, Estella Maria Sherman Littell, John Rogers Sherman Sr and Mary Wheaton Sherman Peters all deceased.

Augustus Frederick Sherman was never married and had no children. He left his photographs to a niece who gave them to the government.

Below is an alleged photo of him. He is standing far right.

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Below are the photos in question.

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