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Andrew D. Lytle, photographer

Andrew David Lytle was born on April 4, 1834 in Ohio. By age 5, his family had relocated to Cincinnati, where he later met and married Pennsylvania native Mary Ann Lunde, with whom he would have two sons and a daughter (eldest son Andrew S. Lytle died in infancy). Mr. Lytle's career as a photographer began as a daguerreotypist at William Southgate Porter's Cincinnati studio. With his wife acting as his assistant, Mr. Lytle photographed various parts of the American South, including Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia before eventually settling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1857. Briefly partnered with a man known only as Mr. Gibson, Mr. Lytle established a studio in the downtown Heroman Building. By the spring of 1859, he was on the move again, opening a Main Street gallery that was conveniently located near a busy hotel (filled with tourists wishing to have their portraits made).

As America prepared for war, Mr. Lytle drew upon an earlier experience with an Ohio militia to assist in Confederate soldier training. By 1862, Mr. Lytle was providing lucrative photographic services to both the U.S. Army and Navy, offering both studio portraiture and field photographs. He documented the numerous encampments established throughout Baton Rouge and performed various photographic services for Admiral James Glasgow Farragut. One of the more financially successful Civil War photographers, Mr. Lytle was able to move his family to an estate on the affluent North Boulevard, near the Louisiana governor's official residence. During the Reconstruction years, Mr. Lytle's professional focus shifted to outdoor photography, which required a special field camera to produce 8x10" glass plates and a heavy wooden tripod to steady the cumbersome camera and plates. Howard Lytle joined his father in 1885, and thereafter the Lytle Studio name became known as Lytle & Son. Gradually, the junior Lytle assumed more of the field photography responsibilities. In 1910, a publisher's agent purchased several of Mr. Lytle's Civil War negatives for a 50th anniversary historical retrospective, and it was during this time that he became referred to as "the camera spy for the Confederacy." However, this allegation appears to be more fiction than fact. Howard Lytle, likely the source of the 'Confederate camera spy' rumor, died from tuberculosis in 1915, and 83-year-old Andrew D. Lytle died two years later, on June 8, 1917.


When the Lytle heirs sold the North Boulevard property during the 1920s, several precious glass plate negatives were destroyed. However, a small group of negatives resurfaced in the 1960s, and currently comprise the Andrew D. Lytle Collection, housed in the special collection libraries at Louisiana State University. This collection consists of 134 glass plate negatives and corresponding prints that range from 1862 until 1903.




Ref:
2011 An Eye of Silver: The Life and Times of Andrew D. Lytle (URL: http://exhibitions.blogs.lib.lsu.edu/?p=431).

2008 Baton Rouge by Sylvia Frank Rodrigue and Faye Phillips (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 52.

2016 Capitol Park and Spanish Town by Matt Isch (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 32.

2014 Confederate Spy Photography (URL: http://www.sonofthesouth.net/civil-war-pictures/photography/confederate-spy-photography.htm).

2014 Oliver Brice Steele Andrew D. Lytle Photograph Collection by Tara Zachary (URL: http://www.lib.lsu.edu/sites/default/files/sc/findaid/4028.pdf).

2017 South Baton Rouge by Lori Latrice Martin Ph.D. and Raymond A. Jetson (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 26.


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