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The Gus Myers Journal and the  Myers Family Connections:

The Documentation

   In 2006, the Myerson family began to attempt to finally settle some of the property from Gus Myers' (aka George Myerson, Sr.) great grandson, George Myerson II's estate.  Gus Myers II had guarded a collection that he had inherited from his  great grandfather August Myers (Aka George Myerson, Sr.) and his father, George Myerson, Jr. The collection was contained in several sealed crates that had been in storage for some 70 years. This collection was willed to George II's daughter who was seriously ill prior to 2007. Consequently, her brother, George Myerson III agreed to open the crates and find out what was in them and supervise the sale of their contents for the benefit of his sister and her only daughter, Amber Myerson Smyth. George Myers III had no ownership in this collection as he had been willed another collection of Civil War artifacts and antiques.  Although George Myers II had worked to protect this collection he left his daughter, neither she, nor her daughter, or brother knew anything about it until they began opening the crates in 2007.

The crates contained a few personal items belonging to August Myers ( Aka George Myerson, Sr.) and Capt. George Todd during and after the Civil War.  However, the bulk of the contents were an extensive antique image collection of approximately 600-800 original, individual images. These images were predominantly cased tintypes but some were Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and paper images. Each image was carefully wrapped in butcher paper, sealed, and numbered. These numbers corresponded to an old ledger/journal found in the first crate. The journal's numbered images predominately corresponded to the work records that Gus Myers(AKa George Myerson, Sr.) and Irwin M. Askren had retained from the Askren/Baldwin/Myers photography business from the 1850s until he died in 1914.


The Gus Myers (Aka George Myerson, Sr.) ledger/journal was written in a typical, cloth covered, lined accountant's journal of the 19th Century. During the reading of the journal, the family learned that none of the journal was actually in Gus Myers' hand.  It had been set to paper by Gus' son, George, Jr.(a dentist) who had been planning to write a book about his father. Evidently, George Jr. was rather verbose in his writing of his father's remembrances of his past, as well as George Sr.'s added notes and an extensive inventory list of their collection of period items and photographs. It appeared to the family that Gus Myers only spoke of his past after having a few drinks but his dutiful son, George Jr. always wrote everything down in the journal for posterity (both good and bad information revealed).

The information in the journal was in disjointed order, written in long hand German with an old style dialect and slang.  George Jr. wrote later that he did this in order to "make it hard for the dogs to back bite me." (Ref: Myers journal). At any rate, he obviously did not want just anyone to read it as he spoke fluent German himself. Some pages were missing, torn, worn, and disintegrating making it extremely difficult to read and translate.

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George Myerson III and his niece handled the translating of the journal and the matching of each entry to the numbered images.  The following description was sent to me by his niece concerning her part in the translation. She is a college student and fluent in German, now studying abroad.

"The journal pages were wrinkled, warped, and brittle from moisture and time. They had black mold, worm holes, and smelled like a 'Dead cat'. In order for me to read them, the pages were crushed flat between 2 pieces of Plexiglas. The pages turned into tiny pieces of confetti when released from the Plexiglas (thank GOD we live in a digital world! EAC). I translated each page from German to English and forwarded the translations to my Uncle George. All pages that contained information about the image collection or artifacts were destroyed out of necessity to get the information on the page. Uncle George told me to get everything I could from each page and throw away the rest. My Uncle George was the one who had held the images and arranged for the images to be sold on behalf of my mother and myself. I only had loose pages and I finished all of them by March, 2009. I have no idea where any of the rest of the journal is or whether it even exists but the collection pages no longer exist at this point."

Some journal entries make it clear that Gus Myers(Aka George Myerson, Sr.) originally collected the images as duplicates taken by his father-in-law, Elias Baldwin and his wife Prudence Baldwin Myers (Myerson) during and after the Civil War. Most tintype images were taken on sheets of 4 to 6 duplicate images leaving some extras if the sitter did not want them all. Gus, Prudence, and their son, George Jr., collected the images together and originally inventoried them.  George Jr., because of his father, became an avid collector himself and added some of the images as they traveled to meet other former Quantrill guerrillas at various reunions. Many of the images were simply given to them by other guerrillas (including William Gregg and Frank and Jesse James) in order that they be remembered and the history preserved.  George Jr. also collected several Non-guerrilla images of famous and infamous men he read about in the local newspapers at the time. He had quite good luck as he was living when the events were unfolding (he was born in 1868 and died in 1938) and was always ready to travel anywhere to acquire images he was interested in taken by other photographers at the time, some of which had kept duplicates themselves.

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George Myerson Jr. and George Myerson II consequently became the archivists of the image/artifact collection covered above. They both helped to preserve and conserve the collection that Gus Myers (Aka George Myerson, Sr.) and George Jr. had held so dear and worked so hard to put together in the memory of W.C. Quantrill, George Todd, and all of the various members of the Missouri guerrillas.


In 2007, Emory Cantey, Jr. was contacted concerning the collection. At this point some 95% of the image collection has been obtained over the last 7 years. The rest is being obtained as funds allow and will be pursued until the whole collection is again in one collector's hands, as Gus Myers (Aka George Myerson, Sr.) intended so that it can be seen by others in honor of the brave, Southern guerrillas that fought and died for Missouri  between 1858-1865.


The entire information contained in Gus' biography and the ID's of the hundreds of images are contained in hundreds of e-mails, preserved via computer storage, over the years. George Myerson III and his sister are now, regretfully, deceased, leaving only George III's  niece as  sole owner of what is left and being purchased.  The Cantey/Myers collection extends its deep appreciation to and thanks to these three fine people. God Bless.

Amber Myerson Smyth, Gus Myers' GGG Granddaughter added the following signed and dated formal statement for the documentation:

"My GGG Grandfather was August (Gus) Myers(known to me as George Myerson, Sr. Until translating the journal). During the American Civil War, he was a Missouri Quantrill guerrilla serving under Colonel James Brewer and Captain George Todd.

After the death of Captain Todd, Gus Myers was given Todd's saddle bags, personal property, and guns to preserve and appointed the official archivist of the Missouri guerrillas. During his lifetime, he amassed a large collection of artifacts, images, personal items, and firearms that belonged to the Missouri guerrillas. His father-in-law (my GGGG Grandfather) was E. A. Baldwin who was the photographer of choice of the Missouri guerrillas and the Union soldiers alike in Missouri. He was a traveling photographer with his own photography wagon/saloon. His daughter, my GGG Grandmother was, consequently, an accomplished photographer in her own right.

All of my knowledge about Gus Myers and E. A. Baldwin comes from my Uncle George Myerson III ( Gus Myers' GG Grandson), Gus Myers' family and collection journals that I translated from German to English , documents my Uncle possessed, and family stories I heard as a child. 

signed: Amber Smyth 

Emory A. Cantey, Jr./August Myers Collection

2011

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