Sunday, July 6, 2008

Virgil V. Marquart - An Accidental Historian

This weekend, I continued to scan in my extensive postcard collection and to record information about not only the picture on the postcard, but the identification markers of the photographer, printer, merchandiser, and distributor.

I know - I'm a geek/freak.

A common theme kept on coming up for me. It was postcards which were photographed by Virgil V. Marquart and published by Marquart Camera Shop.

I've seen Mr. Marquart's name several times before this weekend. Not sure where. Not sure how. I just know that his name looked as familiar as - well - as anything I remember from the 70's.

I did a quick internet search and unfortunately, found that Mr. Marquart had passed over ten years ago (June 13, 1997).


Virgil Vernon Marquart, 85, of Fort Wayne died Friday (June 13, 1997) at home.

The Monroeville native was a self-employed photographer, owner and operator of Marquart Camera Shop from 1945 to 1975, and was former employee of both Sherman & White Co. and Beck Jewelry Store.

He was a member of Indiana Genealogical Society, Society of Indiana Pioneers, Fairfield County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society, Allen County Genealogical Society and Fort Wayne Historical Society.

He was a World War II Army veteran. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Pacific Theater and received three bronze stars. Burial will be in Monroeville Memorial Gardens.

Mr. Marquart did not have any children.


So then, I went in search - what did Virgil Vernon Marquart - what did he look like? The only picture of him I could find was from the Allen County Public Library's digital Collection.

Mr. Marquart is the third individual from the left. He is with friends in front of Painter Brothers.

With as many photographs as he took and as many postcards as his Photo Shop produced, I'm surprised that there was no book published by him or his family, chronically the changes of the Fort Wayne landscape. He certainly captured places that have either morphed significantly over the years or which no longer exist in the Fort.

So sad that he is gone.

If he were still alive I would ask him, Why did you become a photographer? What was it like to run your own business for thirty years? What happened to your business after 1975? Did you pass the baton on to someone else? What inspired you to take photographs of places that people in Fort Wayne considered (during that time) to be just ordinary places and buildings?

Why did you take a picture of Glenbrook Center Mall from the side instead of the front? How did you get a picture of the Library without any cars in your way (i.e. going through the lights)? Did you have to get special permission to photograph those kids on the pony rides?

Although I have several Fort Wayne history-related books, not one mentions Mr. Marquart. That's sad too. I hope that someone, somewhere down the line writes about the bits of photographic memories that this accidental historian left behind for us. Without his pictures, we'd be missing a huge chunk of the Fort Wayne places that existed in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.

R.I.P. Mr. Marquart. Thank you for the memories.


Joe said...

I spent a good amount of time last night going through your postcards on Flickr - they are wonderful! Thanks for sharing those!

Kelly said...

okay, I'm intrigued! My mother's maiden name is Marquart and her side of the family grew up in Fort Wayne. I don't have much of the family tree available to me, unfortunately, but I'd bet this is(was) a relative. Thank you for posting this!

Mike Marquart said...

Virgil was my great Uncle. I used to go into His camera shop quite a bit as a kid with my Dad. My Dads name was Robert & He lived in Indianapolis. Virgil traced the genealogy of the Marquart family.