camera man Edwardsburg Photos
Cass County, Michigan
Circa 1900 to 1920
The Andrus Collection

The Andrus Photos of Edwardsburg

Page 1
photos 001 to 030
Page 2
photos 031 to 060
Page 3
Photos 61 to 94
Page 4
photos 95 to 130
Page 5
photos 131 to 170
Page 6
photos 171 to 220
Page 7
photos 221 to 265
Page 8
photos 266 to 312
Page 9
photos 313 to 339
~~ Page 10
Retakes & Add-ons

Photos property of Dean Andrus and @ copyrighted with special permission given to the Cass County Genweb to use them on site.
To find out about purchasing a CD, which has approximately 339 photos, not all of the photos are here on site, contact Mr. Dean Andrus at -

George Andrus’ Early Edwardsburg - Forward:

My Uncle, George R. Andrus, took these photographs during the period of 1910 to 1920. He and my father, Charles H. Andrus, and grandfather, Henry Andrus, owned and operated the Edwardsburg Argus newspaper from 1899 until Charles and Letta retired in 1959 and the Argus was sold.

As a young boy I worked in the print shop after school and during the summers setting and distributing type, printing business cards and stationery on the hand fed letterpress and helping in the publishing of the weekly paper. The whole family, including Mom, Aunt Zennie, sister Barbara, and sometimes Aunt Marian, helped on Wednesday mornings to print, assemble, fold, address, bundle, and deliver the paper to the post office.

When I was about 12 years old I found 30 boxes of glass plate negatives in an old storage cabinet upstairs in the Argus office. A photo of two of the boxes is shown in Figure 1. They had been taken by Uncle George between 1900 and 1920 and then stored away. Some had been printed on postcard stock and sold to tourists. These have titles scratched into the emulsions, which show up when the photo is printed. The purpose for taking the other photos is unknown since at the time there was no way for the Argus to convert the photos to printable plates that could be used for putting photos in the newspaper.

This type of negative was invented in 1878 and was called a “dry plate” negative. Prior to this a photographer had to use a “wet plate” process in which a clean and polished piece of glass was coated with a photosensitive liquid and loaded into a camera in the darkroom. The photograph was then taken and the camera returned to the darkroom to remove the plate and develop the image while the emulsion was still wet. Mathew Brady’s magnificent photographs of the Civil war were done with wet plates and a black tent set up near the battlefield for a darkroom. All chemicals, distilled water, equipment, cameras and glass plates were packed in boxes and carried to the front on horseback. Plates were prepared, photos taken, and negatives developed one at a time, on the spot.

The advent of dry plates allowed any number of photos to be taken at any location and then transported at the photographer’s convenience to a well-equipped darkroom for processing. These plates allowed pictures to be taken in bright sunlight at 1/25 second. You’ll note that in some of the photos people moved during that 1/25 second and blurred their image.

In 1888 the first flexible film was developed and George Eastman introduced the first Kodak camera, a box loaded at the factory with a roll of paper film that would take one hundred exposures. The whole camera was returned to the factory for processing and reloading with new film. Isn’t it ironic that after 100 years we are back to factory loaded cameras which are returned to the factory for processing! For larger format cameras, dry plates remained in use through the early 1900’s and thus were used by Uncle George during this time.

Uncle George gave the negatives to me and I got interested in the darkroom end of photography at a young age. I bought a small kit of 3 plastic trays, a small red bulb for a darkroom safelight and several foil packets of developer and fixer chemicals. I rigged up the bulb in a small closet under the eaves off an upstairs bedroom. Blankets draped over the door kept the light from leaking in through the cracks. I had some success – enough to get me hooked on photography – but almost suffocated in the small closet. Soon I moved to the basement and converted half of the vegetable, canned food, pickle crock and sauerkraut crock storage room into a darkroom. Those smells combined with the developer, acetic acid short stop bath, and fixer/hardener chemicals was quite an experience but better than being roasted to death.

Throughout my high school years I developed and printed my own snapshots and made contact prints of a few of the glass plates. My first enlarger cost $35 and could print negatives up to 2 ¼” by 3 ¼”. The glass plates are 4” by 5” and 5” by 7” and thus could not be enlarged. An enlarger to do the job was way out of my price range.

After graduation in 1949, I left Edwardsburg to go to college, serve four years in the Navy during the Korean War, go back to college, get married and move to California. During all of these moves, I kept the plates together vowing that “someday” I would print all of them for the residents of Edwardsburg to see.

In 1984 I found a Kodak 5” x 7” enlarger made in 1930. It was stored in a warehouse of used equipment, in some state of disrepair, and I bought it for $100. After weeks of disassembly, sandblasting, painting and reassembly I had a beautiful auto-focus enlarger that could handle the glass plates. It is over 6 feet tall and weighs several hundred pounds and is shown in Figure 2. This enlarger was used to print a number of the glass plates and some of these prints were used in Otis Montgomery’s great book, “Edwardsburg”. But other projects – including raising a family, full time job as an electrical engineer, home remodeling, woodwork, metalwork, stained glass, glass blowing, bronze casting, weavings, etc. – and lack of a dedicated darkroom kept me from printing them all – 134 each of the 5” x 7” and 200 each of the 4” x 5”.

Then came the computer and a flatbed scanner with a transparency adapter. Suddenly I could walk into the den, scan a negative, see the photograph as a positive on the computer monitor, use the program “Photoshop” to adjust the brightness and contrast, repair scratches and dust spots, and print it out on an inkjet printer. This is a compromise in that the best negatives can be produce much better photos in the darkroom. Poorer negatives, however, can be manipulated in ways that are impossible in the darkroom.

All of the negatives were numbered and those subjects that were known to me were labeled. Those unknown or in doubt were not and I leave it to the residents of Edwardsburg to identify them and correct me where I’ve been wrong. Those that are labeled as “not printed” were either too dark or too light to get a satisfactory print but have been kept in the collection for possible future printing in the darkroom.

I hope you enjoy these photographs as much as I have enjoyed printing them and will join me in thanking dear old Uncle George for giving us a peek into the past. Sorry I didn’t get around to printing them sooner for I’m sure most of those who could identify people in the photos are no longer with us. I’d be happy to hear any comments you might have.

Dean C. Andrus
13910 Ravenwood Drive
Saratoga, California 95070

Cass County Michigan Index Page

2010 - Photos property of Dean Andrus and @ copyrighted with special permission given to the Cass County Genweb to use them on site.

To find out about purchasing a CD, which has approximately 339 photos, contact Mr. Dean Andrus at -