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Sepia Photograph of Four Men and Dog from the collections of the Worthington Historical Society (WHS) may be used for educational purposes as long as it is not altered in any way and proper credit is given: "Courtesy of the Worthington Historical Society, Worthington, OH." Prior written permission of the WHS is required for any other use of Sepia Photograph of Four Men and Dog. Contact WHS at email@example.com to request permission.
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It was created around 1870-1889.
Worthington Historical Society is the Contributor.
This charming sepia photograph depicts four men and a dog who would not hold still for the camera. The only information provided on the photo identifies two of the men as Rus Topping and Jim Wright, though exactly which two of the four men is not indicated. “PRE 1900” is written on the back.
The men are posed casually sitting on steps outside an exterior door, dressed in boots, loose jackets, and soft hats.
In the upper left corner, a partially cropped sign probably reads, “W. W. Bickett Office.” Dr. Bickett practiced medicine in Worthington in the 1870s and ‘80s. In the 1870 Census he was boarding with the William Snow family in their home on West New England Avenue. William Snow’s brother, Dr. George Snow, also lived there. It’s possible that one or both might have been practicing medicine from the home. During the 1870s Bickett also boarded at the Griswold Inn and could also have seen patients there. In 1879 he purchased a brick home on the northeast corner of West New England and High Street, at 654 High Street. Dr. Bickett sold the house to Dr. Dickerson Welling in 1888. If indeed Dr. Bickett was practicing medicine from his residence, the photo might have been taken at any of these three locations and would date from the 1870s or 1880s.
Of the four men, James Russell Topping (a.k.a. Rus) is the only one who can be confidently named, if not physically identified. “Jim” Wright could be any one of three James Wrights living in Worthington in the 1870s and 80s. James Russell Topping was related to the Wrights as well, having married Margaret Hoyland Wright, widow of Henry W. Wright.
James Russell Topping (also referred to as J. R., Rus, Russ, and Russel during his lifetime) was born in Worthington in 1842. His grandfather was James Russell, a Worthington cabinetmaker, blacksmith, and the famous creator of a huge model of the solar system that toured the nation. Topping served in the Civil War with the 113th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, returning to Worthington in 1865. The 1870 Census shows “Russel” Topping, age 27, living with the Powell family in Sharon Township, and employed as a dry goods clerk. He married Margaret Hoyland Wright in 1876. Two years later, they sold the Topping home at 92 East Granville Road and moved to Columbus. (The house did not acquire its distinctive French Second Empire features until after it left the Topping family.) Topping continued to work as a merchant until 1889, when he was appointed Superintendent of Goodale Park. During the years when he managed the park, he and his wife lived on Highland Street and W. Third Avenue in the heart of what is now Victorian Village. Though he left Worthington in middle age, he was a life-long, frequent participant in Worthington’s Masonic lodge, where he served along with members of the Wright family. He died in 1922 at age 79, the oldest member of New England Lodge No. 4 in Worthington at the time.
There are three James Wrights who might be the “Jim Wright” in this photo.
James E. Wright was born in Perry Township in or near Dublin around 1830. He was a gifted student; his academic talents ultimately led him to Princeton University, where he graduated and later earned a master’s degree. He returned to Columbus and, in 1853, passed the bar exam. In 1869 he moved back to Worthington, while continuing to practice law in Columbus, where he was involved in state and local politics. Though his professional work revolved around Columbus, he was a crusader for better schools and educational opportunities for Worthington students. In 1875 he initiated a court case that transferred the original village and farm school lots to the Worthington Board of Education. He campaigned for the construction of a new school on the site of the old academy building. It included the first high school classes for community children. James E. Wright died in 1890.
James P. Wright was born in Worthington in 1828. His father, Potter Wright, came to Worthington in 1815. According to the 1850 Census, James P. was already clerking at the family’s hardware store at age 22. The store, a two-story brick building on the west side of High Street, is visible in an 1860 photo. Like the other male members of the family, he was an active member of the New England Masonic Lodge, even serving as an officer with James Russell Topping in 1883. James P. Wright died in 1889.
The Wright family continued to run the hardware store through the early twentieth century. James P. Wright’s son, James F. Wright, took over the hardware business until Arthur Evans purchased Wright Hardware in 1928. Evans installed his son-in-law Bill Loos as manager, and over the years Loos expanded what had been Wright Hardware into the much larger Worthington Hardware store, with the Wright portion of the building at the core of the new business. James F. Wright died in 1934. According to his obituary he had been a member of New England Lodge No. 4 for more than 50 years. Long time Worthington resident George Wing referred to James F. Wright as “Jim” in reminiscences published in connection with the Dudley Fisher “Skylarks” cartoon from 1928. Perhaps one of the younger men in this photo is James F., who would have been in his twenties in the 1880s.
It features the person James R. Topping, 1842-1922.
You can find the original at Worthington Historical Society.
This file was reformatted digital in the format video/jpeg.
The Worthington Historical Society identification code is 93-G-245. The Worthington Memory identification code is whs0944.
The Worthington Historical Society identification code is 93-G-245.
The Worthington Memory identification code is whs0944.
This metadata record was human prepared by Worthington Libraries on March 17, 2023.