County Seat Newspaper
of Clare County

Hidden Mothers and Others: Happy Mother's Day!


This ‘hidden mother’ photo was taken in Clare by photographer Robert Willoughby. Willoughby operated a studio in Clare from 1898-1904. The child is not identified. Willoughby advertised that his specialty was photographing babies.

Photos like this are commonly called ‘Hidden mothers’ as mothers stayed covered while holding their child still for long exposure times for early cameras.

Clare Sentinel, 28 July 1904


R.J. Willoughby Has a Chance to Draw 160-Acre Prize in the Rosebud Reservation, S. D.

R.J. Willoughby who recently sold out his photo studio in Clare journeyed last week to the south part of the state but suddenly determined to make a bid for one of Uncle Sam’s 2500 chunks of land, each a quarter section, into which the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota is to be divided and thrown open to civilization. In a personal letter to E. G. Welch, Mr. Willoughby states a number of interesting facts some of which are herewith given:

 Here I am sitting under a shade tree at Yankton, S. D. Never thought I would be out here when I left Clare. Yankton is a town of 5000 people with two daily papers, also a German weekly. I was somewhat surprised in the development of the country. There is no timber to speak of. Crops look excellent now, corn, wheat, oats being chiefly grown If I were a farmer I would look up some land here. But perhaps I may get 160 acres anyway in Uncle Sam’s lottery. My chances are about one in a hundred to get a portion of the Rosebud reservation. No less than 106,326 home seekers have registered, each hoping that he will be one of 2500 lucky ones to secure a quarter section of the drawing to take place July 28th. I got here July 23rd the last day of registration and 2000 registered during the day. They tell me there were days when people were lined up two abreast for-two blocks waiting their turn. I meet men from Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, in fact they are here from every state in the Union. But I have missed all the excitement as this town is now as orderly as Clare during the carnival, only more gambling and any number of saloons. Nearly all that come to register return on the next train. Notary Publics are as numerous as flies around a sugar barrel. Each of those who draw a prize is required within five years to pay $4 an acre for the land and mane it his home for at least fourteen months, which after all- proves that the allotments are placed beyond mere gifts.

Clare Sentinel, 15 September 1904

 R.J. Willoughby, after considerable wandering since leaving Clare, has again gone into the photography business and located at Bushnell, ILL, a town of 3,000 people in the midst of a good farming country.


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