George W. Sittler was born to Jacob and Sidney Cummings Sittler in Shelby County, Illinois on August 25, 1847. After his public school education, he became an apprentice for photographer Dr. George H. Hannaman. After two years, Mr. Sittler purchased the studio from Dr. Hannaman. In 1870, he married Shelby County native Elizabeth "Lizzie" Middlesworth, and two years later entered into a photographic partnership with A. R. Launey. Sittler & Launey soon became known for their impressive stereoscopic images, ferrotypes, watercolors, and pastels. Mr. Sittler sold his interest in the business to his partner in August 1881, and briefly relocated to Fort Scott, Kansas.
In January 1882, Mr. Sittler moved to Springfield, Missouri, where he would live out the rest of his life. He bought Captain S. W. Johnson's gallery, which was strategically located on the busy St. Louis Street. Mr. Sittler employed three assistants, including Robert M. Root, who enlarged photographs and produced crayon sketches and watercolors. The large gallery also became a major retailer of photographic equipment, chemicals, and frames. An astute businessman, Mr. Sittler's gallery became one of the largest photographic wholesalers in the region. He was also engaged in Springfield civic affairs and an active member of the Photographic Association of America. A dry-plate aficionado, he freely shared his expertise with several industry publications. His oxalate formula was: 4 ounces of salts of tartar (also known as carbonate of potash) dissolved into 16 ounces of soft water. Next, 4 ounces of oxalic acid was added, the mixture was stirred until the bubbles are dissolved, and then filtered. To the filtered solution, a drop of sulfuric acid was added. Mr. Sittler advocated full-time exposure developing, and recommended adding iron to intensify shadowing. For his plates, he preferred the largest stop in a 3-B Dallmeyer lens and used Morgan's albumen paper to achieve the toning effects he sought in producing vibrant prints.
Mr. and Mrs. Sittler frequently ventured outside the studio to photograph the many local caves. Unfortunately, tragedy struck on one such expedition in September 1887. While jumping from one area to another to secure a better view of his subject, Mr. Sittler's head struck the point of a stalactite. After returning home, he became delirious before losing consciousness. After being comatose for several days, 40-year-old George W. Sittler died at his Springfield home on September 22, 1887. His widow Lizzie, an accomplished photographer in her own right, operated her late husband's gallery for several years after his untimely passing.
1887 Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. XVIII (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 604.
1881 Combined Histories of Shelby and Moultrie Counties, Illinois (Philadelphia: Brink, McDonough & Co.), p. 174.
2011 George W. Sittler, Springfield, Missouri by John Craig (URL: http://www.craigcamera.com/pho_sittler.htm).
1883 History of Greene County, Missouri (St. Louis, MO: Western Historical Company), p. 830.
1883 Photographic Mosaics (Philadelphia: Benerman and Wilson), pp. 123-124.
2014 William Fletcher Lowe (URL: http://jrm.phys.ksu.edu/genealogy/needham/d0003/I370.html).
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera