Born in the Berks County, Pennsylvania town of Hamburg on January 26, 1825, Benjamin Lochman’s American roots date back to the Revolutionary War, where his paternal grandfather, Wilhelm Lochman, was a ranking officer in the Hessian army while his maternal grandfather, Harman Leitheiser, served in the Continental army. Like his forefathers, Benjamin Lochman spent his entire life living and working in Pennsylvania. There are scant details on his childhood and education, beyond that he was frail and sickly, suffering frequently from what was then known as consumption (tuberculosis). As a young man, he taught briefly in the Schuylkill County School District. He later opened a general store there, before moving to Reading, where he worked for a local merchant known only as Mr. Temple. At age 25, he married Catharine Troxell, and the couple had three children, sons Eugene and William, and daughter Ella.
After achieving some success with his store in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, located at 7 North Main Street, Mr. Lochman partnered with his brother Charles, and opened a highly successful shoe manufacturing company (that also made hats and caps) in his wife’s hometown of Allentown, at 603 West Hamilton Street. Upon his early retirement due to poor health, Mr. Lochman became an enthusiastic student of the daguerreotype. The decision to open a photography gallery had a practical side as he believed such a business would pose less of a physical demand on his weakened body. At various times, he operated studios at 709 (East) Hamilton Street and 9 (West) Hamilton Street, specializing in portraits and cartes-de-visite. He took what is believed to be the earliest photograph of Pennsylvania’s third largest city, in 1862. The view captures Allentown’s Center Square’s northwest corner, and prominently features the Zion Reformed Church (now known as Zion's United Church of Christ). Surprisingly, Mr. Lochman actually credited making iodine plates and inhaling various developing chemicals with strengthening his lungs and improving his overall health dramatically.
True or not, by the first decade of the 20th century, Mr. Lochman was the oldest active photographer in Allentown. He was also active in civic affairs, serving on the city council, and on the boards of several local clubs and community organizations. Benjamin Lochman died on May 3, 1912 at the ripe old age of 87.
2002 Allentown by Ann Bartholomew and Carol M. Front (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 42.
2016 Cdv - Man with Long Beard or Goatee - Photo by Benjamin Lochman, Allentown PA (URL: http://www.terapeak.com/worth/cdv-man-with-long-beard-or-goatee-photo-by-benjamin-lochman-allentown-pa/291780083827).
1909 Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania by Morton L. Montgomery (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co.), p. 248.
2013 Lochman B., Photographer (Allentown PA) by Donna J. Guiffre and Dave Helfrich (URL: http://www.itsallaboutfamily.com/j3/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2626&catid=3144&Itemid=101&lang=en).
1909 Monthly Cyclopedia and Medical Bulletin, Vol. II (Philadelphia: F. A. Davis Company), p. 521.
2015 Old Photos (URL: https://www.pinterest.com/marliaperes/old-photos).
2000 Photographers: A Sourcebook for Historical Research edited by Peter E. Palmquist (Nevada City, CA: Carl Mautz Publishing), p. 12.
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