Ivan Purinton’s shop in Exeter, New Hampshire

This photograph has faded and lost some of its clarity, but it’s a photo I’m very glad to have.  It was taken on a wintry day in Exeter, New Hampshire, outside a shop owned by my great-great-grandfather, Ivan Tilton Purinton (1843-1904).  Signs on the wall say “I. T. Purinton” and “Carriage & Sign Painter.”  Also on the wall is a white board which says “Sewing Machines.”  If it weren’t for this photograph, I’d never know that my great-great-grandfather sold sewing machines!  The carriage in the foreground has a newly painted sign on its side which says “H.F. Dunn.”

The back of the photo has a stamp for “F. J. Taylor & Co., Copying and Landscape Photographers,” based in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts.  Ivan’s son (my great-grandfather) added a date of 1875:

Ivan Tilton Purinton in Exeter, NH 2


This framed photo of Ivan was probably taken a few years later.  It looks like a tintype, but I’m not sure because I haven’t taken it out of the frame:

Ivan Tilton Purinton in Exeter, NH 3


I’d love to know why Ivan’s parents named him Ivan.  It’s a family mystery!

I don’t know anything about his personality, but I bet he was a good painter.



43 thoughts on “Ivan Purinton’s shop in Exeter, New Hampshire

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  1. We have more in common then I thought. My grandfather and great grandfather were both carriage makers and painters. One of them, not sure which, I am told used to do the gold leaf striping on fire engines free hand. No decals back then I guess:)

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  2. I cannot imagine what it must be to know what your great-great grandfather looked like. Does it make a difference to any part of the way one lives one’s life, I wonder.

    Why have you not taken your great-grandfather’s photo out of its frame to look at the back? Or is this an indiscreet question? If so, apologies………Sarah

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good questions, Sarah! The back of the frame is papered over (sealed), so I’m reluctant to open it up. You can see that the photo also has a paper mat. Old paper tends to be brittle and fragile, so I’m afraid I might end up damaging it.

      I don’t think I look much like Ivan. Does it make a difference to know that? It’s interesting, certainly. On the other hand, I don’t know much about him, so I don’t feel a strong connection to him. If I did, it would be more important to know his face, I think.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It does have a lot of windows! I think you can see through the nearest window to one on the other side of the building, as well, which means the building was long and narrow. It must have been full of natural light. Good for painting, and also for displaying or demonstrating sewing machines. Excellent observation!

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    2. A few years ago a distant cousin sent me this clipping. I don’t remember where she found it. (Ivan’s middle initial should be T, rather than C.) It says “Hacks and Coaches Painted and Repaired to order. West end of old Machine Shop, South Street, opposite Bow Street.” So Liz, you were right, it wasn’t a mill building, but a machine shop:

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Is there a Welsh family connection perhaps? It would be Ifan in the Welsh spelling. Perhaps the parents just liked the name (this is how my siblings and I came by our names – our parents had heard them somewhere and liked them).
    I love the sleigh going past – or actually, it’s not going anywhere, it’s standing still to be photographed, but it adds a liveliness to the street scene.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No Welsh connection that I know of. I think you’re right about his parents simply liking the name. They may have known someone named Ivan, maybe a friend or distant relative whom I haven’t run across. Ivan’s parents were Bradbury Purinton and Sophia Dolloff, both from old New England families. I have a photo of Sophia, but not one of Bradbury.

      The sleigh really adds atmosphere, doesn’t it? I love it, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am charmed by both photographs! How wonderful to have such a visual to your family’s history. He has a strong but gentle look and the hint of a smile it seems to me. He must have been a renaissance man to be a talented painter and seller of sewing machines. I wonder if perhaps the sewing machines could have had something to do with carriage upholstery, the extension of his business in another direction. I am always fascinated at thinking of when someone lived, how the history of their time must have touched their lives. All that was happening around them as they sought to make their way in the world. He lived through much. These are wonderful shares Brad 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I never considered upholstery before, but that makes perfect sense. Ivan would have done all sorts of repairs, from carpentry and mechanical work to more artistic elements such as painting and decoration. His son, my great-grandfather, went on to become a machine tool repairman and amateur painter (artist). He even painted porcelain. Women were as industrious and creative as men, if not more so. Self-reliance was both practical and a matter of pride. I bet you’ve got some creative people in your family tree! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Not only are the photos and post immensely interesting, so are the comments made by other history enthusiasts.

    He looks sophisticated, composed and handsome. How wonderful to have this visual connection to your great-great grandfather!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve looked and looked at this photo, and I can’t get over the feeling that his expression seems enigmatic because his eyes are tracking just slightly differently. He’s not cross-eyed, exactly, but there’s just “something” about his eyes I can’t pinpoint. His vision had to be fine, given his occupation, but it’s still interesting.

    I was intrigued by the phrase “copying and landscape photography.” I’ve never heard that. Do you know what the “copying” might have been?

    I have a tintype of my great-great grandfather and grandmother and their three daughters. It came to me without any frame or holder, and with no documentation, so I know the names of the girls, but not which is which. One of them was a real character, though, and so at least in my imagination I “know” which one she is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right about his eyes. I noticed the same thing in the portrait of Kate Sharp in the previous post, and her left eye also appears to be slanted upward rather dramatically in the close-up (https://tokensofcompanionship.blog/2019/02/19/kate-sharp-in-rothesay-isle-of-bute-scotland-1890/).

      “Copying” probably just means making copies of photographs by taking photos of them, which was common practice, although the copies were never as good as the originals. Daguerreotypes were often reproduced as cartes-de-visite that way.

      It’s wonderful that you have a tintype of your great-great-grandparents! It always makes me glad to hear things like that. So many of those early photos are floating around in shops or in the collections of strangers.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So interesting and exciting to be able to go back in time with the help of old photographs. That it’s also your own historical background you find is amazing. Thank you for sharing Brad!!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh my gosh!! I know exactly where that is! Thank you for letting me know. I’ll have to make time to take a closer look at that street. I think it’s great that you’re keeping the stories of these historic photos alive.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Jewel! I’m just down the road in Nottingham, and I’ve made a note to look for the original location of the building as well! When I looked on Google Satellite, it seems as though the original building has been replaced by townhouses.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hello, Elizabeth! Yes, I thought it was they road so I checked the map and, sure enough….I was just speaking about this with a co-worker yesterday. How unfortunate it was they put those up. So much history in this region.

        Liked by 2 people

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