Maplewood History: For Sale – A Painted Photograph of Gertrude Harper


Now for something completely different.

Recently a man contacted me who has a portrait of Gertrude Harper for sale.  He bought it at a thrift shop sometime ago. Now he is looking for another home for it.  The price is $20 which seems reasonable.

Gertrude Harper was the daughter of Dr. Cape and his wife Alice.  She married Bill Harper of Harper’s Pharmacy.

It is too bad that we have nowhere in the community to preserve items such as this photograph when they become available.

If you want to know more about the Harpers you can do so here.

This image was most likely commissioned by Dr. Cape or his wife, Alice. If you’d like to know more about Dr. Cape, read this.

This is a bonafide artifact from Maplewood’s past.  And it’s only 20 bucks.

If you want to contact the owner of the photo I’ll be happy to connect you.

Doug Houser         December 2, 2022


  1. We have seen tons of photos left behind at estate clean outs that Michael and I have done, we mention to the family that they are there, but they could care less. Photo albums put on the trash pile because the “ex” is in the photo. So many cremated, ashes scattered to the wind. No stone to find for later generations trying to piece their history together. I guess I come from too old a generation to understand. Beautiful picture. I hope someone wants it. I remember the Harpers.

    • I have seen the same thing, Mary. Often we can’t know why. An ancestor may have been abusive or weird. Images that seem harmless to a stranger have meanings for some of the family that we can only guess at. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Yes but it is fairly typical of this sort of an ancestor image from the 1890s. As a matter of fact, it is more restrained than a lot of them. I can’t tell for certain but it looks like it may be just the center part of the frame that survives. I think it may have had a very ornate frame of wood and plaster that would have surrounded what is left above. It’s good to hear from you, Tom.

    • Doug, I really don’t know. Alice sold the family home at 7378 Hazel to the auctioneer Ken Massey. I’m not certain but I don’t think she ever married or had children. Although I never met her sister, Mary Harper Hall, in person, I just missed her. She dropped off the panoramic photo that is in my first book at the chamber. It is now in our collection at the library. Later she sent to me images and items related to Dr. Cape and the Harper family. Last communication I had with her was many years ago. I believe she and her husband were living in Michigan then. My feeling is that when Alice sold her home she left a lot of the family stuff there because no one had any interest in it. I suspect Massey sold the framed photograph in this post at his auction house. Several years ago I got a call from someone at a resale shop about a framed photograph of someone in the Harper family. Might have been this one. I never got a chance to check on it.

  2. I think this is a great idea Doug. This is a beautiful picture of a lovely little girl and I hope it finds its way back to her family. I remember Harpers Pharmacy very well and shopped there often. Their daughter, Mary Harper, was in my class at school.

Comments are closed.