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An Eye of Silver: The Life and Times of Andrew D. Lytle

Arrival and Early Days in Baton Rouge

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Andrew David Lytle, Sr. (b. 4 April 1834) began his career as a photographer in the mid-1850s in Ohio where he may have apprenticed with the Cincinnati daguerreotypist William S. Porter. While in Cincinnati he married Mary Ann Lundy (b. 1836), daughter of a Cincinnati pen maker. On 1857 their first child, Andrew S. Lytle, was born.

Lytle traveled through Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee as an itinerant photographer during the years 1854 and 1856 while maintaining his home in Cincinnati. The first mention of Lytle in Baton Rouge appears in the Baton Rouge Daily Gazette & Comet on 18 December 1858. The item announced “the World Renowned Artists LYTLE & GIBSON, have arrived in our city.” In April and May 1859, Lytle & Gibson advertised their imminent departure for a summer tour of Mississippi.

By November 1859 Gibson’s name no longer appeared in connection with Lytle. That same month Lytle announced in the Daily Gazette & Comet that he had established a studio on Main Street across from the Harney House hotel. He would operate out of this location for the next fifty years.

As the 1855 map demonstrates, Baton Rouge fronted directly on the Mississippi River. Lytle, almost always referred to as “A.D.,” took the photograph displayed on the right from the west bank of the Mississippi, circa 1860. Notice the river comes nearly to the front doors of the shops, there is no levee, and what we now call the Old State Capitol lies at the far right-hand edge of the photograph.

The riverfront shopping district persisted for decades. Over twenty years after A.D. took the photograph, LSU cadet Robert Nicholls Sims, writing in his diary in the 1880s, referred to going down to the river for eggs.