His World Through A Pinhole: Uncle Charlie's Homestead Photos

 
9781463713560: His World Through A Pinhole: Uncle Charlie's Homestead Photos
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By 1902, the emigrant branch of Josef Maria Muller’s family from Gersau, Switzerland, Marie Theresia Steiner and her 8 children, were well into their second decade of life in America. When they began homesteading in southwest Washington State in 1888 in the area of present day PeEll, the youngest son, Charles Dominik Muller, made a pinhole camera and started recording his life in the “wilderness” at age 17. Most of this photo collection was taken between 1890 and 1905. The photo record may have been initially undertaken to provide support for his family’s homestead claims, but as his photography skills grew, this collection of images also grew into an historical perspective revealing remnants of his life. Many of the images here were never printed until the author found them on “the homestead,” where Charles spent his final years. More than a century later, the images reveal details long forgotten in the oral history of his descendants. A handful of the images in this book were previously printed in Swiss Pioneers (1984), by Nancy Muller Roberts, and in Restoration (2008), by Alfred Tietjen. Included in this retrospective are the entire known collection of 110 photographs with subject matter ranging from logging, daily life, work and play, to dwelling, dam and sawmill views. Along with these subjects, the images contain friends, relatives, and landscape views. It is a family treasure-trove of images of times gone by, but not forgotten. Accompanying this body of work, the author has written historically descriptive captions filled with details describing the photo subjects. Also included are poignant essays on pinhole photography, family homesteading claims, and a retrospective biography of “Uncle Charlie” (who died in 1954). It is the author’s intention to make these images available to all the descendants within this family, for their personal enrichment. That a wider audience may also find interest and enjoyment is also expected.

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About the Author:

The author is a third generation descendant of pioneers who homesteaded in southwest Washington state in 1890. This second book about his family is a follow-up to his book, "Restoration," and a previous work by the author’s cousin, Nancy Muller. Accompanying the search into 19th century records by his brother, William Tietjen, are conversations with currently living relatives, multiple hours viewing and interpreting what was seen in the photographs, and a fair amount of knowledgeable speculation where the research revelations and foreknowledge from oral history was scant or less-than-provable. In the author’s words, “It is hoped that putting in writing things that are at risk of being lost in fading oral traditions will serve generations now greatly removed from the events. The personal history of our ancestors is part of the fabric of our existence. I owe my own interest in this matter to the preservation efforts of the my cousin Nancy and my brother Bill, and hope to enhance their own work.”

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