I have spent many years speaking with members of the Aldrich family, for they are some of the only people who know my true age. Considering whom they have photographed over the decades, I am nothing to be concerned about.
Recently, the last of the descendants of Victor Aldrich has passed, and I am the inheritor of the reaper portraits, and I have heard their histories. Some of those tales are darker than others, and I will put them here, so they’re not forgotten.
This portrait was taken in the first week of September 1862. According to Victor, the young lady came into his studio, pointed to the picture of the young boy who had foretold the arrival of others, and told him that her “Brother had sent her to him.”
Victor posed her, photographed her, and asked if she wanted to return for the image. Like her ‘brother,’ the young lady demurred and requested that the photo join her sibling’s. With a wink and a nod, she told Victor to look for news for her after the seventeenth of the month.
With trepidation, he agreed, and he kept an eye out.
The young lady, it appeared, traveled to Lawrenceville outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Specifically, the Allegheny Arsenal. The arsenal blew up on September 17th, 1862, resulting in the deaths of 78 civilian workers, most of whom were young women.
Victor placed the photo of the female reaper beside her brother and started a small ledger. It was simple and straight forward. It noted the sex of the reaper, the date they arrived, and the number of deaths.
The ledger is one of many and at times it breaks my heart to read it.
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