John P. Soule was born to John and Mary True Soule on October 19, 1828 ion Phillips, Maine. In the 1830s, the family moved to Turner, Maine, which is where he spent his childhood and received his formal education. At the age of 19, he married Harriet Campbell, and the couple had three children – Lucie, Hattie, and Franklin. After living in Georgetown, Maine and in Boston, the family later settled in Malden, Massachusetts. From 1846 to 1856, Mr. Soule pursued business opportunities in Portland, New York, and Boston. He met machinist and draftsman John Rogers in the late 1857, and set up the Boston-based partnership of Rogers & Soule, Printsellers. John Rogers would later become a renowned sculptor and successful proprietor of Rogers Groups.
Mr. Soule began studying photography in 1858, and the next year became apprentice to acclaimed New England photographic pioneer Jesse Wallace (J. W.) Black, whose studio was located at 173 Washington Street in Boston. From there, he entered the employ of the Bierstadt Brothers (Albert, Charles, and Edward). In 1860, he joined the Bierstadt party on a photographic expedition to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He was responsible for selecting the vantage points for their landscape photographs. Upon their return to Boston, Mr. Soule left the Bierstadt establishment and founded his own business, known simply as John P. Soule. At the end of the Civil War, he began documenting the combat destruction and photographed such significant military bases as Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, among others.
Afterwards, Mr. Soule began reproducing famous art works, which included small reproductions of photographs by Adolphe Braun, Carlo Naya, and Fratelli Alinari. He also documented Michelangelo's paintings in the Sistine Chapel as well as the paintings of Italian and Low Country masters, and figurines of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. His successful business expanded further when it began publishing stereographic views in 1875, selling several negatives to Benjamin W. Kilburn. In 1883, Mr. Soule sold his company to his brother William Stinson Soule and his partner William Everett, who conducted business as the Soule Photographic Company. The following year, Harriet Soule died, and perhaps needing a change of scenery, her widower became a railroad photographer in Denver, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Returning East, Mr. Soule married Mary A. Read in 1886. Two years' later, the couple moved to Seattle, Washington, where he enjoyed a second career as a roving photographer. His greatest triumph of this period was his coverage of the June 1889 "Great Seattle Fire" that began in a cabinet making shop and quickly spread throughout the fledgling Seattle business district. When it was finally extinguished, it is believed to have destroyed 32 blocks, totaling a staggering $20 million in losses. Mr. Soule lived the remainder of his life in Seattle, where he died suddenly at the age of 76 after suffering an apoplectic stroke on November 27, 1904.
1891 American Stationer, Vol. XXIX (New York: Redman & Kenny), p. 881.
1898 History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts, Vol. III (Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son), p. 409.
2010 John P. Soule Family (URL: http://familystacks.com/custom/views/fam/S02.htm).
1880 The Nation, Vol. XXX (New York: E. L. Godkin & Co.), p. 44.
2011 National Heritage Museum (URL: http://nationalheritagemuseum.typepad.com/library_and_archives/john-p-soule).
2000 Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), p. 110.
1999 South Carolina's Lowcountry (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 38.
2006 Washington Disasters: True Stories of Tragedy And Survival (Guilford, CT: Morris Book Publishing, LLC), pp. 29, 31.
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