BLESSING BROTHERS. Samuel T. Blessing (ca. 1832–1897), John P. Blessing (ca. 1833–1882), and Solomon T. Blessing (born ca. 1840), pioneer Texas photographers and dealers in photographic supplies, were all natives of Maryland; at least two of them were brothers. In 1856 Samuel opened a daguerreotype gallery in New Orleans with Samuel T. Anderson. By 1859 Anderson and Blessing, "daguerrean artists," had an office on Twenty-third Street in Galveston, Texas, but the Union blockade during the Civil War apparently shut down the Texas trade.
Immediately after the war John P. and Solomon T. Blessing advertised as artists and operated photographic galleries in both Houston and Galveston. They offered photographs made by many processes, including paper prints finished in oil, pastel, or watercolor, and a large assortment of photographic supplies, which they attempted to keep up to date with the rapid technological advances in the field. Among their Galveston employees were P. H. Rose and portrait artist Louis Eyth.
In 1870 the Blessings opened Blessing's Photographic Temple, a new portrait gallery in Galveston. Their establishment included a copying and enlarging department, from which they could produce all sizes of portraits, from miniatures to life-size. In addition they offered portraits in oil, painted from photographs to reduce the traditional lengthy sittings. In the 1872 Galveston City Directory they boasted that they operated "the best equipped gallery in the state." They exhibited chromos, stereoscopic views of Galveston, albums, and portraits of famous people. In addition to their artistic interests, Solomon was a retail merchant, and the brothers sold Wilson's sewing machines and operated the dry-goods firm of Foster and Blessing. They are last listed as Blessing and Bro. in Galveston in 1882–83, when John resided in Baltimore, Maryland.
Around 1886 or 1887 Solomon moved to Dallas and opened a store at 461 Elm Street. Samuel T. Blessing of New Orleans was evidently an important associate of this enterprise, if not its head. When he died in 1897, Solomon succeeded him as manager of the business. John did a number of views of Houston buildings that were lithographed by W. H. Rease of Philadelphia and included as vignettes around W. E. Wood's map of Houston, published in 1869.
Richard Pearce-Moses, Photographic Collections in Texas: A Union Guide (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987). Margaret Denton Smith and Mary Louise Tucker, Photography in New Orleans: The Early Years, 1840–1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Ben W. Huseman, "Blessing Brothers," accessed May 24, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbl59.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on January 20, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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