Otis, Jennie (also see McNear) 1981-835-04

John Quincy Reed’s Portrait Photograph of Jennie Otis McNear, c. 1880-1883


Photographer: John Quincy Reed (b. 1842, Massachusetts, d. 1902)

Active in Petaluma: 1874-1898

Biographical Note: Reed worked from several different studios during his time in Petaluma. In 1874 his studio was in the “American Hall, Main Street,” thereafter it was “Over Wells, Fargo & Co’s. Ex. Office, Main St” and finally it was “Brick Block, opposite McGuire’s Drug Store, Main Street.”  According to Palmquist, Reed was charged with arson for setting fire to property in Petaluma at the corner of Cleveland and College Avenues.

Bibliography: Palmquist, pgs. 452-53; Mautz, pg. 134.


Name(s): Jennie Otis McNear

Description: Carte de visite of Jennie Otis McNear's bust. McNear sits at a studio prop table with her hands folded. Her hair is styled into a braided crown and the rest of her curls fall freely. She is wearing a light dress with a white ruffled collar and heavy necklaces. If you look closely you can see she is wearing a wedding ring, dating this photo between 1880 (her marriage to George McNear) and 1883 (the year of her death).

Biographical Note: Jennie Otis was the first wife of George Plummer McNear. She was born 1857 and died 1883, the result of an explosion.

“No story could be more sad than that which tells of the early and sudden death of Mrs. George P. McNear. She was the idolized daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Otis—their only child—and great as was their parental pride and love for her, their affection was returned with all the ardor of her strong and affectionate nature. Jennie had been a little more than three years the wife of Mr. George P. McNear, and the day of her burial, last Sunday, was the second anniversary of the birth of their little daughter. She was the very personification of rosy health; in form and feature a model of beauty; the rosy pathway of her life was reflected in her cheerful spirits, and as daughter, wife, and mother, her character seemed perfection. This was the tender daughter, tbe bride-wife, the clinging mother, her good-bye kiss fresh on the lips of her husband-lover and child, and her feet led by filial affection toward a suffering mother, who was met by the appalling catastrophe to the steamer Pilot last Friday.”

Family Affiliation:

Bibliography: Marin Journal, Volume 23, Number 12, 31 May 1883.


Format / Size:  carte de visite, approximately 6.25 x 10.5 cm

Medium: albumen photographic print mounted on cardstock

Description, Obverse: (identify group or individual, gender(s); identify pose, furniture & props; describe composition, background, added color…)

Description, Reverse: Mr. McNear’s 1st Wife. J.Q. Reed, Photographic Artist. Over Wells, Fargo & Co’s Ex. Office, Main St., Petaluma, Cal.

Date: c. 1880-1883  

Condition: (note tears, foxing, fading)

Owner:  Petaluma Historical Library & Museum, 1981-835-04

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