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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Platt D. Babbitt

Born: Platt Delascus Babbitt 
Joint: Babbitt & Tugby 
Dates:  1822, 22 May - 1879, 21 August
Born:  US, MA, Lanesboro
Died:  US, NY, S. Wales
Active:  US
Babbitt operated a gallery in November 1850 on Ridout St. in London Ontario, and in August of that year he advertised as itinerant in Niagara Falls. By 1853 he was established at Niagara Falls, NY, and on July 17 made at least one image of Joseph Avery who lost his life at Niagara Falls - Babbitt operated there almost exclusively until his death in 1879. Extant daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and glass stereo view images with his studio imprint are known and newspaper reports suggest he also made diapositive "window hanger" images. At least one of his stereo negatives is credited on an Anthony paper stereo view. He corresponded with Southworth & Hawes and purchased one or two of their parlor stereoscopes and the whole plate images of Niagara Falls widely attributed to the Boston partnership may have been those of Babbitt.
[Contributed by Richard O. Titus]
The Niagara Falls Gazette
Platt D. Babbitt (56), an old resident of this village, and a photographer whose work has made him known throughout the country, committed suicide by drowning himself at South Wales, Erie County, Thursday morning of last week (Aug 21).
For some time past Mr. Babbitt had not enjoyed good health, being subject to fainting spells through weakness; and in consequence he was made an object of solicitous watching by his wife and mutual friends. A week ago last Wednesday Mr. Babbitt and his wife left their home on Second-st. in this village, and went to South Wales for the purpose of visiting a few days with Mrs. Sally Corliss, his mother-in-law, who was boarding with Mrs. Mary A. Miller. Since that time Mr. Babbitt had gained some strength, and often expressed a desire to “live and die in this beautiful valley.”
On Wednesday last Mrs. Babbitt, fancying she detected an improved condition of her husband’s health, spoke to him about returning home, but he was not willing to do so. He desired to remain a few days longer. Thursday morning he arose about six o’clock. Shortly after that hour Mrs. Miller, who was standing in the woodshed, noticed him walking down the path toward the barn, and subsequently saw him in the doorway.
His wife, noticing his absence from the house, started out to find him, first going to the barn and subsequently walking up the road some distance. Her search not proving successful, Mrs. Miller also looked about for some time.
The latter walking along the bank of the Cazenovia Creek, and had proceded but a short distance when she discovered the missing man’s hat on a pile of driftwood, and his body lying on the bottom of the creek in a place where the water was only about three feet deep.
The startled woman then called for help, and attracted the attention of Ransom Downing, a neighbor. He drew the body out of the water, and it was found that the suicide had fastened one end of a short rope around his neck quite tightly, and the other end around a flat stone, about one foot square. It is thought that he did this on the bank and then carried the stone with him into the water and laid down upon his face. The body it is supposed had been in the water for fully half an hour before it was found. It was removed to the house, and an investigation showed that the deceased had emptied his pockets of his private papers and quite a sum of money before committing the fatal act.
Word was sent to Coroner Scott by telegraph and that official proceeded to South Wales. After he heard the statement of the parties, he decided that the case was one of deliberate suicide and did not deem it necessary to hold an inquest.
The remains were brought to his home at this place the same evening and the next day were conveyed to Cincinnati, where the burial took place. 
Stereographs project 
Business locations 
Niagara Falls, NY, US 
[5-7] *[In partnership with Timothy Tugby in Niagara Falls at some point(s) in the 50s-60s] "Photographer"; produced 200+ generally exc. glass & paper views primarily of Niagara Falls area; most were standard views of falls but occasionally odd ones such as visit of Russian navy officers; made a few [much rarer] of White and Catskill Mtns. ("Scenes in the Catskill Mountains") & Quebec; uncertain if these latter were his own images; some are same as those issued by A. Pike; some views pub. by George Barker. Was an early major producer; came to Niagara ~51, worked for Saul Davis; 53 opened own studio, making dags.; got monopoly on taking views from Prospect Point; made many fine glass views of area, paper versions considerably scarcer. Retired ~67, returned to work in 73 for some unknown period. Major holdings, Treadwell Collection 
T.K. Treadwell & William C. Darrah (Compiled by), Wolfgang, Sell (Updated by), 11/28/2003, Photographers of the United States of America, (National Stereoscopic Association)
Credit: National Stereoscopic Association with corrections and additions by Alan Griffiths and others.
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J. Landy
Platt Delascus Babbitt (1823-1879) 
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Supplemental information


Platt Delascus Babbitt
Chronology (1821-1879)

Prepared by R.O. Titus - revised 06-18-08

1822 May 22Birth, Lanesboro MA - ref: Interment Record - Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati - born to William David and Hannah (Platt) Babbitt. He is born an 8th generation U.S. citizen descended from Welsh stock.
1847 Sep 1Babbitt's mother, Hannah Platt Babbitt, dies, age 64
1847 Mar 23Babbitt registers copyright with NoNY District Court for stereoview image: Horse Shoe Falls and Tower from Goat Island No 173
1850 Aug 28Babbitt's ad for daguerreotype rooms >few days only (NF Iris) frames, cases, lockets, rings, bracelets, pins
1851 Nov 13 Babbitt's ad for daguerreotypes in Canadian Free Press - He is then operating a studio on Ridout Street, London, Ontario
1851 ndMentions Babbitt came to NF in 1851 and was employed by Saul Davis and that several years later Babbitt opened a store on Main St (The Daily Cataract - March 4, 1896)
1853 Jul 19Babbitt takes image of Joseph Avery stranded in Niagara River
1854 Apr 15Webster commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1854 Jul 12Ad for views taken from Point View (NF Gazette) (Special claim for non-reversed views) - partner Johnson is named
1855 Mar 7NF Gazette editorial boost of Babbitt in response to Buffalo Republic suggestion of winter Falls photography
1855 Mar 8John Roebling completes suspension bridge over Niagara River, locomotive London crosses
1855 Dec 2Artist Ferdinand Richardt makes sketches for oil painting of Prospect Point
1855 Dec 3Babbitt marries Clara Bowen), Niagara County, NY
1856 Mar 5Announcement that Babbitt is "again" ready to take pictures or furnish views of the Falls - Mentions a SV of Hamlin & Sims with a horse and cutter. Also mentions Parlor Stereoscope (from S&H?) (NF Gazette)
1856 Apr 14 Robert Herrington commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1856 Jun 23Henry Hollister commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1856 Jun 30Ed McWright commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1857 Jan 17Babbitt leaves NYC for Charleston SC on Steamship Merion (ICP Ledger p.156)
1856 Jun 1Edward Page commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1857 Jun 8Miss Butler commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1857 Sep 8Emily Smith commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1858 Nov 9Babbitt receives deed for 56 1st St from W.O. Davis for $1,850
1859 Jan 19Babbitt is arrested after public confrontation with Judge Porter (Rochester Union)
1860 May 2Babbitt's father, William Babbitt, a farmer, dies in Lanesboro MA
1860 Jun 26Census listing for Niagara Falls - Platt D (photographer) ae 38 b. MA Clara ae 34 b. VT and servant Mary Summerville (b. Canada) ae 19 RE value 1,900 PE value 1,500
1860 Aug 15Babbitt takes stereo view of rope-walker the Great Farini
1860 Sep 17Babbitt takes stereo view of Prince of Wales at Prospect Point
1861 April 12Confederate batteries open fire on Ft Sumter SC - Civil War begins
1861 Jun 10Miss Sommerdale commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1862 May 12Miss Sommerdale commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1863 ndMarone McKee commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1863 Oct 21Platt Babbitt receives deed for #8 2nd St from J.D. Hamlin for $2,000
1863 Oct 23Babbitt takes stereo view of Russian naval officers at Prospect Point
1863 Nov 11Miss Vigger commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1864 Jun 8Miss Marbila Hodge commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1864 July 25Miss Garall Rogers commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1864 Sep 10Platt Babbitt conveys deed for 56 1st St to George Sims for $3,000
1865 Apr 8Lee's surrender at Appomatox
1865 Jun 27Miss Clark commenced work (ICP Ledger p.153)
1865 Jun 28Platt Babbitt prepares a will statement proven Dec 16, 1879
1866 Sep 10Clara Babbitt leaves for Montreal
1867 Jun 25Babbitt is assignee for marble dressing machine patent from Ralph P. Bailey (patent 65990)
1868 Jul 31Platt's nieces arrive in Niagara Falls from Cincinnati (ICP Ledger p.154)
1868 Aug 6George Curtis takes negative of Babbitt family group (ICP Ledger p.154)
1868 Sep 8Platt's nieces leave Niagara Falls for Cincinnati (ICP Ledger p.154)
1868 Oct 15Babbitt crosses the new Falls View Suspension Bridge officially opened in 1869 (ICP Ledger p.154)
1870 ndIn a letter to his sister Electa Babbitt Rule he recommends Lee Van Loo, a Cincinnati photographer
1871 Aug 14Babbitt's receive deed from Christina Wright (122:336) for lots 2 and 4 on Fifth Street for $1,450
1873 Jul 15NF Gazette 27 Nov 1878 refers to Babbitt images at Buffalo Photographer's Convention
1873 Jul 16Mention of new glass transparencies offered by Babbitt and local hotels and that he has been absent from business for several years of retirement (NF Gazette)
1877 Nov 28Babbitt is mentioned with Jerrauld as receive suppoenas in pending suit
1879 Aug 21Babbitt commits suicide (NF Gazette 08-27-1879)
1879 Aug 23Babbitt interment - Spring Grove Cemetery - Cincinnati (Spring Grove Cemetery - Interment record 33050)

Northern District of New York - Platt D. Babbitt
Copyright Registrations - 1859-1860 (20)

November 21, 1859 No 1 Instantaneous view of Rapids above Niagara Falls C.S [Canada Side] (125)
November 21, 1859 No 21 Instantaneous view of Rapids above Niagara Falls (126)
March 23, 1860 No 6 Horse Shoe Falls and Tower from Goat Island (172)
March 23, 1860 No 7 Horse Shoe Falls and Tower from Goat Island (173)
March 23, 1860 No 29 Table Rock and Horse Shoe Falls, Canada Side (174)
March 23, 1860 No 261 Niagara in Winter: Table Rock and Horse Shoe Fall. Canada Side (175)
March 23, 1860 No 262 Niagara in Winter: The American Fall from half way down the inclined plane (176)
March 23, 1860 No 263 Niagara in Winter: The American Fall and Ice Mound from the ice bridge in the centre of the River (177)
March 23, 1860 No 264 Niagara in Winter: The Horse Shoe Fall from Table Rock House looking up the River (178)
March 23, 1860 No 265 Niagara in Winter: Horse Shoe Fall from Table Rock Stair Case (179)
March 23, 1860 No 266 Niagara in Winter: Horse Shoe Fall and Terrapin Tower from the Museum Canada Side (180)
March 23, 1860 No 267 Niagara in Winter: Table Rock and surrounding scenery looking down the River (181)
March 23, 1860 No 268 Niagara in Winter: The American Falls from Luna Island, with an ice encrusted tree in the foreground (182)
March 23, 1860 No 271 Niagara in Winter: The American Falls from the Museum on the Canada Side (183)
March 23, 1860 No 272 Niagara in Winter: General view comprising all the Falls (184)
March 23, 1860 No 273 Niagara in Winter: The American Falls from Table Rock, with the ice incrusted trees and bushes in the foreground (185)
March 23, 1860 No 274 Niagara in Winter: Ice incrusted trees on Luna Island with opposite shore of the River in the distance (186)
March 23, 1860 No 275 Niagara in Winter: Table Rock on Clifton House from a point in front of Table Rock House (187)
April 6, 1860 No 270 Niagara in Winter: View from below Table Rock showing the Horse Shoe fall with the immense icicles appendant in the foreground (191)
April 6, 1860 No 260 Niagara in Winter: The Horse Shoe Fall from Table Rock (192)
We would welcome any further information on this chronology and especially material prior to 1850 - Richard O. Titus ( 

Internet biographies

Terms and Conditions

Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Platt D. Babbitt.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.240 
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