My previous post on the mystery photograph of three men in uniform found among family photos at my grandparents’ house in Worcester, Massachusetts generated some helpful hints about the photograph.
SOURCE: Three Men in Uniform (location unknown). Possibly photographed, reproduced, or mounted by Knight Photographic Studio in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA in about 1892-1913.
The board on which the photographed is mounted states “Knight, Worcester, Mass”. A review of the Worcester, Massachusetts City Directories shows that, in 1885-1886 and 1887, James H. Knight was a partner in Bennet & Knight, photographers. In 1892, 1909, and 1913, James H. Knight, is listed alone as a photographer. James does not appear in the 1918 or 1920 directories.
Based on this information, James Knight was operating his own photography business from about 1892-1913, so I think that would have been the most likely time period for this photo if it was originally taken by James Knight. However, the original photograph may not have been taken by James Knight. He may have reproduced copies of the original photograph or, perhaps, the photograph was merely mounted on a board from his studio.
My friend Carolyn passed on this advice she had received from a friend: “If there is a sword or boots, always check for spurs, those three together are a dead giveaway for a cavalry unit.” Since these uniforms all include a sword, boots, and spurs, perhaps these uniforms are cavalry uniforms. But from what cavalry?
The next clue was discovered in the emblem on the caps of the three men.
SOURCE: Emblem Detail in Three Men in Uniform (location unknown). Possibly photographed, reproduced, or mounted by Knight Photographic Studio in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA in about 1892-1913.
This emblem bears striking similarity to the state emblem of the Russian Empire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Both emblems show a double-headed eagle holding a scepter and the globus cruciger(globe with a cross). Both eagle heads wear a crown and a larger crown appears above them.
SOURCE: Wikipedia.org, State Emblem of the Russian Empire; digital image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Coat_of_Arms_of_Russian_Empire.svg : accessed 08 Sep 2009.
Since my grandfather lived in a part of Poland that had been annexed by the Russian Empire, it would make sense that military uniforms from the area where he lived would bear the state emblem of the Russian Empire.
So, it appears that these three men are wearing cavalry uniforms of the Russian Empire, and it is possible that the photo was brought over by or sent to my grandfather, Kostanty Niedziałkowski. Who, exactly, these three men are remains a mystery.
Copyright © 2009 by Stephen J. Danko