Alice M. Conklin

Late 19th & Early 20th Century Photographer

Wayne County, NY

In July 1898, photographer Albert L. Russell sold his business at 46 Union St. in Newark, New York to Mrs. Clarence Conklin. She was the Alice Conklin, photographer, listed in the 1900 directory of the village of Newark. Both Alice and her husband Clarence, proprietor of a planing mill, were listed separately as businesspeople at 121 Union Street, which was their residential address for years to come. Alice was self-employed as a portrait photographer in Newark for at least 17 years.

From: The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, July 6, 1898, page 7

Mrs. Clarence Conklin has purchased the Russell photographic studio on Union street.

In the 1900 Federal census of Arcadia, Alice M. Conklin was listed as residing at 121 Union St. Her husband, Clarence Conklin, age 44, was born October 1855, a lumberman, and owned a mortgaged home. Alice was age 39, born April 1861, married 17 years, and was a photographer. Alice had had 3 children and 3 were living. The children residing in the household were son Frank A., age 16, born June 1884, daughter Neva M., age 9, born March 1891, and son Leslie, age 8, born April 1892. All children were born in New York State and attending school. Both Clarence and Alice Conklin were said to be born in New York State, as were their parents.

In the 1905 New York State census, the family still resided at 121 Union St., Town of Arcadia. Clarence, age 45, was a lumber dealer and employer. His wife Alice, age 40, was a photographer, and their son Frank A., age 20, was a carpenter. Daughter Neva M., age 14, and son Clarence Leslie, age 13, were both attending school.

In the 1910 Federal census of Arcadia, four generations of the family resided at 121 East Union St. Clarence Conklin, age 54, was a "manufacturer of crates, boxes, etc.," an employer, and freely owned his home. Wife Alice M., age 49, was an "artist, photographic," working on her own account. Alice stated that she'd been married 27 years, had had 3 children, and all 3 were living. Also residing with them were their three children. Son Frank A., age 25 and single, was by occupation an "electrician, house," and son "C. Leslie," age 18 and single, had no occupation stated. Daughter Neva M. Higgs, age 19, stated that she'd been married for 2 years, and had had 1 child. Neva's husband Harold, listed as son-in-law to Clarence and Alice, was age 19, and worked as an "assembler, machine shop." Alice Higgs, age 8 months, is listed as granddaughter. The fourth generation was Samantha "Spelson," age 85, mother-in-law. Examination of the actual census page shows that her surname was clearly written as Sheldon. Samantha was a widow, had had 2 children, and 1 was living. Rounding out the household was childless widow Anna Stiger, age 65, who worked as a "servant, private family."

In the 1915 New York State census, Clarence and Alice continued to reside at 121 East Union St. Clarence Conklin, age 59, is simply listed as a manufacturer, while Alice, age 54, was a photographer. Also residing with them were two granddaughters, ages 4 and 5, with Higgs surname but no first names given. The fifth person in the household was Margaret Fable, age 56, who was a "servant, housework." In the 1915 NYS census of Lyons NY, a young photographer named Harold M. Higgs, age 24, was residing with his parents, William and "Carry" Higgs and his 2 brothers. This man was Alice and Clarence's son-in-law of the 1910 census. A peek into future census years and online newspaper resources reveals that at an unknown later date this Harold M. Higgs of Lyons would remarry and start a family, and reside in Saratoga and Washington Counties, all in New York State. In 1930 he stated that his first marriage was at the age of 28. Perhaps he remarried at that age.

In the 1920 Federal census of the Town of Arcadia, Clarence and Alice were still right at home at 121 East Union St. Clarence was age 64, and working for wages as a woodworker at a mill. Alice M., age 54, had "no occupation," but she kept busy, as residing with them were granddaughters Alice C. Conklin, age 10, and Harriet E. Conklin, age 7.

The 1925 New York State census of Arcadia lists Clarence and Alice Conklin as residing on East Union St. Clarence Conklin, age 69, was a manufacturer and again an employer, and his wife Alice was age 65. Granddaughters Alice, age 15, and Harriet, age 12, the children of their daughter Neva, were attending school.

In the 1930 Federal census, widow Alice M. Conklin, age 65, was renting at 306 E. Miller St., Newark, for $40 a month. Residing with her was "Harriett Conklin," age 17, said to be her daughter and single. Both Alice and Harriett were listed as having no occupation. Social mentions in the Newark newspapers show that Alice was still leading an active life, enjoying club and community activities.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Tuesday, April 25, 1933


Newark, April 24- Mrs. Clarence Conklin, 76, died today at her home, 419 East Union Street. For 50 years she had lived in Newark. Her late husband owned and operated the planing mill in East Newark which was a landmark until it burned 15 years ago. She leaves two sons, Frank of Rochester and Leslie of Willoughby, O.; two daughters, Mrs. Caroline (sic) West of Lyons and Miss Harriett Conklin of Newark; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral Wednesday at 2:30 at the home.

East Newark Cemetery
Conklin, Alice Mae, 26 Apr 1933, 76 Yrs.
Conklin, Clarence, 4 Sep 1927, 72 Yrs.

A family tree on states that Mrs. Conklin's maiden name was Alice Mae Sheldon, that she was born April 1861, in the Town of Brutus, Cayuga County, NY to Enos Sheldon and Samantha L. Gates, and that she passed away April 26, 1933 in Arcadia, Wayne County NY. However, the date of April 26, 1933 comes from cemetery burial records, and was not her actual date of death. The birthdate of April 1861 is what was recorded in the 1900 census.

Alice M. Sheldon Conklin grew up in Cayuga County, New York State. In the 1870 census of the Town of Sennett, Cayuga County NY, 10-year-old "Allice" Sheldon resided with her mother, who was age 45, and father Enos, age 70. Enos Sheldon was said to be a retired farmer, with real estate valued at $3300, and personal estate of $1000. Their post office address was Weedsport, indicating that they resided close to the northern border of the Town of Sennett, which adjoins the Town of Brutus. The 1875 New York State census of Sennett, Cayuga County, lists Alice M. Sheldon, age 15, residing with her father Enos, age 75, and, and mother Samantha L., age 50. In the 1880 census of the Town of Sennett, Cayuga County, 20-year-old school teacher Alice Sheldon resided with her parents, farmer Enos, age 80, and mother Samantha, age 55. Samantha was Enos' second wife.

Mrs. Conklin's advertisements in the local newspapers pointed out to prospective customers that she would create an attractive likeness, that she was up on the latest styles and novelties in presentation, used some of the latest photographic techniques, and that her prices were fair. The tone of the advertisements is friendly and puts the prospective sitter at ease. A ca. 1910 portrait on our site of a happy local woman has the photographer's attribution "Mrs. C. Conklin Newark N.Y." impressed onto the lower front of the card mount. The address of 46 Union St. in several of her advertisements was the same address that photographer Albert L. Russell was using when he sold his business to her in the summer of 1898.


The Newark Union, Saturday, December 15, 1900


What is any nicer or what will be treasured any longer by a friend than a nice likeness of yourself as a Christmas gift? Mrs. C. Conklin has the reputation of being an artist in this line and her studio on Union street is attracting people every day. She has novelties in photographs, a new line of frames, medallions, miniatures, porcelains, and everything in the line of novelties to make a Christmas gift presentable and attractive. Six pictures for twenty five cents.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, June 28, 1905


I have given much study to the production of this style of picture. The increasing demand for these photos during the last four years shows they please. This photo is a nice size to send in a letter. It is a re-touched photo - that is, has the wrinkles and freckles and sunburn removed - the ugly taken out. This picture is made on the finest of matt or dull finish paper which gives clear and distinct features. It is nicely mounted on a ___ial carbon black card.

I guarantee it to last.

Only 50c Dozen.



The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, September 20, 1905

to the photos we are
making this week at
50c per dozen
is due to the cute poses
and the beauty of the finish.
We guarantee them to please
when made by

46 Union St.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, November 29, 1905

Photographs at Night

equal to daylight. Sittings can be made evenings as well as in daylight. The effect in lighting is superior to daylight, as the red rays of the spectrum are cut out. We will make sittings Wednesday and Saturday evenings. Now, you people who NEVER have time to have work done in the daytime, it is up to you. You are invited to call Wednesday and Saturday evenings at the studio of Mrs. C. Conklin.

Mrs. Conklin will use the new light extensively in the Christmas work of the studio, and evening appointments should be made early. Studio open Wednesday and Saturday evenings.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, March 14, 1906

Something New

Your photograph on a satin pillow top. Call and see them of people you know. Sittings made

Wednesday and Saturday Evenings

by the new Electric Light; this is not a flash light, but an invention perfected in the last few years for the benefit of the photograph. Have you seen our recent work?

Mrs. C. Conklin,
46 Union St.


Various late 19th century local newspaper articles mention that Mr. Conklin was active in community activities and civic affairs. His business failure in 1897 was newsworthy beyond Wayne County.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, unknown date mid to late August, 1897

It is with deep regret that our towns-people learned yesterday morning of the financial difficulties of Clarence Conklin, and that he had made a general assignment to an uncle in Auburn for the benefit of his creditors. Mr. Conklin has been conducting a planing mill and lumber yard in the eastern part of the village for several years and was successful until the big fire of four or five years ago which wiped out his entire plant, with the Dillenbeck malt house, and several other buildings. Mr. Conklin at once rebuilt, but his insurance money did not reimburse him sufficiently for his loss so that he was able to do business easily. Just then the hard times came on, and although he has made a brave fight, he could hold out no longer. Mr. Conklin's liabilities are about $10,000, and he names a few preferred creditors from whom he has borrowed money. He estimates that his assets are equal to his liabilities, if they can be realized on for what they are worth, but the plant is a quite extensive one, and the times are against him. It would be gratifying to many friends if he can straighten up affairs and go on with the business.

The Evening News, North Tonawanda NY, Thursday, August 19, 1897

Lumber Dealer Fails

Newark, Aug. 19- An assignment was made to Lewis S. Conklin of Auburn on Monday afternoon by Clarence Conklin, the well-known lumber dealer of East Newark. The cause of the failure was slow collections and dull trade, the liabilities are estimated to be $50,000, with assets about the same amount.

The Auburn Argus, Auburn NY, Friday, August 20, 1897, front page

Clarence Conklin, who has been in the lumber business at East Newark for a number of years, made an assignment to Lewis S. Conklin of Auburn, Monday afternoon. An inventory is now being made of the stock on hand and other property. The liabilities are estimated to be about $10,000 with about the same amount of assets. Slow collections and dull trade have combined to bring about the failure.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, unknown date in 1897

Lewis S. Conklin, assignee of Clarence Conklin, sold the latter's property at assignee's sale last Wednesday. The property was all purchased by Ralph Conklin, brother of the assignor, and afterward all sold to Mrs. Clarence Conklin.

[NOTE: in the 1870 Federal census of the Town of Owasco, Cayuga County NY, 14-year-old Clarence Conklin resided with his parents William and Mariah Conklin, and 5 siblings, including younger brother Ralph. At the time of the 1860 Federal census enumeration, the family resided in the Town of Aurelius, Cayuga County NY.]


The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, unknown date in January 1890

The young ladies society of the Presbyterian church held their annual meeting... yesterday. ... Mrs. Clarence Conklin, secretary...

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, unknown date possibly in October 1894

Mrs. Clarence Conklin is in Chicago called there by the death of her uncle, J. H. Stocking, who has been spending the summer in Newark.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, unknown date in 1896 or 1897

Mrs. Clarence Conklin has returned, after an absence of six weeks in Cayuga county.

The Arcadian Weekly Gazette, Newark NY, October 1, 1901

Mrs. Clarence Conklin has been called to Auburn, to assist in caring for her mother, Mrs. Sheldon, who was thrown from a carriage while visiting there. [NOTE: a family tree on states that Alice's mother, Samantha L. Gates Sheldon, passed away September 2, 1914. Both Samantha and her husband Enos Sheldon are listed in the Old Sennett Cemetery listings on the Cayuga County GenWeb site, and their stones were still there as of a year-long reading taken in 2005-2006. Samantha's d.o.d. is given as Sept. 2, 1914, at age 89.]

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Monday, March 27, 1933

When the Ladies' Society of the Park Presbyterian Church elected officers, Mrs. Clarence Conklin was put in charge of work on quilts and other sewing.



In the 1920 census of Rochester, Monroe County NY, Frank Conklin, age 35, was listed as an auto mechanic who rented a home on Driving Park Ave. He and his 31-year-old wife Lillian had a toddler daughter. The family was also enumerated in Rochester in the 1925 NYS census. In the 1930 Federal census, 45-year-old Frank A. Conklin and his family had moved to Flower City Park, in the City of Rochester. He was a homeowner, proprietor of his own automobile garage, and had not served in the previous war. His wife Lillian M. Conklin was age 42. Again, the one daughter was residing with them. By the 1940 Federal census, Frank and Lillian had purchased a new home and moved back to Driving Park. Frank's occupation was garage mechanic but he worked for wages, not on his own account. A family tree on states that his full name was Frank Augustus Conklin and that he was born June 8, 1884 in Arcadia.

Clarence and Alice Conklin's eldest child Frank A. passed away in Newark in 1970. His obituary states that he was laid to rest in East Newark Cemetery. He was born in Sennett NY (Cayuga County) and graduated from Newark High School in 1902. "His father had owned a planning (sic) mill in East Newark until it was destroyed by fire." At one time he owned and operated his own auto garage, and later in life worked for General Motors in Rochester NY. He was survived by his wife, a daughter, two grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. For privacy reasons, as this is a fairly recent obit, this info is just the basics abstracted from the obit. A detailed obituary was published in The Geneva Times, Geneva NY, on Saturday, October 3, 1970, page 6, and can be found in the newspaper database. This newspaper is now known as The Finger Lakes Times and is still published in Geneva in 2014.


By doing a google search on "Neva May Conklin" the following turned up as being recorded in Province of Ontario marriage records available in's (Canadian) offerings of vital records. We're unable to see anything more as we're not subscribed to see records outside of's (U.S.) offerings.

Neva May Conklin and Harold Moore Higgs Married on Tuesday, December 8, 1908 in Welland, Ontario.

No information was found on line about Neva M. Conklin Higgs after the 1910 Federal census. There's a strong possibility that she might be the following young woman interred in East Newark Cemetery, and that "Riggs" was due to a misinterpretation of someone's handwriting:

East Newark Cemetery
Riggs, Neva May, 18 Dec 1912, 21 Yrs.

This young woman would be the exact age as Neva M. Conklin Higgs of the 1900 and 1910 censuses. Our online listings of East Newark Cemetery, provided to us by the Office of the County Historian back in 1998, are very much based on interment records. It would be wonderful if someone could actually go to the cemetery and see if this Neva rests near Clarence and Alice Conklin.

In the 1915 NYS census, a young man named Harold M. Higgs, age 24, was residing with his parents William and "Carry" and 2 brothers in Lyons NY. He was likely Alice and Clarence's son-in-law Harold Higgs of the 1910 census, as his occupation was photographer and his age would be exactly correct. A social mention in the Friday, June 17, 1910 issue of The Lyons Republican stated that Harold M. Higgs, formerly of Lyons, was conducting a photo studio in Newark. Browsing through future census years reveals that this Harold M. Higgs of Lyons remarried, had a family, and resided in Saratoga and Washington Counties, all in New York State. In 1930 he stated that his first marriage was at the age of 28. He was probably referring to his age at the time of remarriage.

Mr. Higgs' obituary in the Thursday, March 17, 1955 issue of The Lyons Republican, available in the newspaper database, names the widow and 7 children surviving him. This obituary confirms that he was Neva M. Conklin's husband, as one of the daughters named was "Mrs. Carleton West" of Lockport, who was "Mrs. Caroline West" of Alice Conklin's obituary. In 1940, Alice C. West, her husband Carleton L., and their young son resided in Lyons, although they later resided in various locations in Niagara County NY. According to the SSDI, Alice passed away in 1996 and her husband in 1969. His obituary in The Niagara Falls Gazette (ca. November 24, 1969) states that he was interred in East Newark Cemetery, and he's listed in that cemetery's findagrave listings. Although she's currently (early 2014) not listed in that cemetery on findagrave, notes with his listing state that his wife's name was Alice Carolyn Higgs Conklin. Another daughter mentioned in Mr. Higg's 1955 obituary was Mrs. David Thorne of Rochester NY. In the 1940 census, David W. Thorne's wife's name was "Harriet C.," they had young children, and coincidentally he worked in the photographic industry. According to the SSDI, Harriett C. Thorne passed away in 2004 and her husband in 2008. Her first name was spelled with two "t's". If you're related to the Higgs, West or Thorne families, please do not email the site coordinators, as we have no further information at all, but do your own checking in the census and other genealogical sources. Much is available about Mr. Higgs' later life in the newspaper database.


In the 1930 Federal census of Willoughby, Lake County, Ohio, "Leslie C. Conklin," age 35, worked as an automobile salesman. He stated that he was 35 years old and was first married at age 22. His wife, Jessie Conklin, age 30 said she was married at age 16, and was born in New York State, as were her parents. Also listed were a son and daughter, both under age 10, and born in Ohio. In the 1940 Federal census of Willoughby, "Clarence L. Conklin" was a 47-year-old salesman for the Chevrolet Motor Co. He'd completed 4 years of high school. His wife Jessie L. Conklin, age 42, had completed 3 years of high school. Their daughter had graduated from high school and was an auditor's clerk at a department store. Their teenage son was in 8th grade. The family had resided in the same house in 1935.

According to his WWII Draft Registration, "Clarence Leslie Conklin", age 50, resided in Willoughby and was employed by Olson Motor, same place. His contact was Mrs. Jessie Conklin, same address. The Ohio death index records that he passed away February 23, 1959, in Willoughby, at age 66. His wife Jessie L. Conklin passed away elsewhere in Lake County in 1979. An obituary naming survivors as his wife, the son and daughter, 2 grandchildren, and brother Frank appeared in the February 20, 1959 issue of the Cleveland Press newspaper. Both "Clarence L. Conklin" (1892 - 1959) and "Jessie L. Conklin" (1898 - 1979) rest in Section 18 of Mentor Municipal Cemetery, Mentor, Lake County, OH. As of 2014, their listings are both on findagrave.

*** For all inquiries about ALL persons and places mentioned, and genealogy of the Conklin and any related families, do NOT email the site coordinators. The site coordinators have NO further information other than what you read above, which was assembled bit by bit from scattered online findings. This article was put together to acknowledge an early local woman photographer, a talented and successful Wayne County NY businesswoman of the very late 19th and early 20th centuries. We refer you in advance to doing your own research via internet search engines, historical societies, and libraries.

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