While cataloguing a portion of the glass negatives in the museum's collection, I came across a view of the People's Drug Store in Waukegan with James Pridham standing in the doorway. The image (below) intrigued me enough to do research on the store and Pridham. It turned out to be a very worthwhile endeavor, leading to a couple of discoveries, including the identity of the second man in the photograph.
Glass negative of People's Drug Store, Waukegan, Illinois, circa 1875. Note Pridham's name over the door and the mortar and pestle in front of the store at left. Dunn Museum 2011.0.191
Pridham worked as a manufacturing chemist. In the Waukegan Business Directory for 1874, he is listed as working at the People's Drug Store on Genesee Street along with James McClasky, Jeannette's brother.
Based on the business directory listing and further research on Ancestry.com, which turned up a photograph of McClasky and his obituary, the man standing behind Pridham is likely James McClasky (1844-1916).
According to McClaskey's obituary, he arrived in Waukegan in 1874 and worked as a druggist for two years (1874-1876). This time frame subsequently dates the glass negative to about 1875. The obituary also states that he established a drug store on Genesee Street, but whether this refers to the People's Drug Store or another is unknown. Though the People's Drug Store had James Pridham's name over the door it's possible that McClaskey was a partner and helped to establish the drug store.
People's Drug Store next to I.R. Lyon's General Store on Genesee Street, Waukegan. This view is from a stereograph taken the winter of 1871. Dunn Museum 94.14.61
By 1876, James McClasky moved east with his wife, Sarah Louise Smith. In 1893, he returned to Waukegan and opened a hardware store.
By spring 1878, the Pridham family left Waukegan for Maywood, Illinois. This short stay in Waukegan (1871-1878) can make researching an individual immensely difficult, especially when, like Pridham, he was not present for the 1870 or 1880 census. However, the fantastic glass negative of Pridham and the People's Drug Store, the Pridham product bottle, and 1874 Waukegan Business Directory all document his time in Waukegan. Additionally, historian Elijah Haines included information on Pridham and his "Japanese" product in his Lake County history of 1877.
But the Pridham story does not end here. James Pridham and Jeannette McClasky Pridham's son, Edwin S. (1881-1963), made a place for the name Pridham in American history as the co-founder of Magnavox.
Edwin was born in Maywood, Illinois, and by 1910, after receiving his degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, was living in Sacramento, California. James and Jeannette Pridham were living in Los Angeles.
In 1915, they debuted their invention of a public address system and loudspeaker named the "Magnavox," and formed the Magnavox Company with the Sonora Photograph Corp.
What started out as an attempt to further identify a glass negative of James Pridham and the People's Drug Store turned into a real discovery. I was able to follow the Pridham line to Edwin S. Pridham, co-founder of Magnavox, and to identify the second man in the glass negative as James McClasky, a Waukegan druggist and hardware store owner.
Special thanks for additional research assistance from Beverly Millard of the Waukegan Historical Society's research library, and Al Westerman, volunteer for the Bess Bower Dunn Museum.