The below image was originally on the late Barbara Irwin’s web pages on Liberal, which are no longer maintained. It was submitted to her by a Mary Jane Conrades who was seeking information on the women in the photo and stated the Missouri Historical Society Archives had dated the photo is being in the 1880s.
Showing similar hairstyles of bangs and curls, I’ve a family photo which shows the same backdrop at Fritts, and would be from the same period.
To learn more about the above photo and the individuals in it visit this page.
I’ve been unable to discover who was the owner of the Fritts studio in Liberal. I do find this which is from the late 1880s:
Aug 6, 1887, pg 1, col 2
Died: This week we are called upon to chronicle the death of Phoebe L. Fritts, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Fritts, of Liberal, Mo. Mr. Fritts and family were formerly residents of Garland, and have many friends here who deeply sympathize with them in this the sad hour of their deep affliction. May the just God who controls the universe, and tempers the wind to the shorn lamb be with them in their deep sorrow and cause them to realize that Phoebe has gone to dwell with Him who said, “Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
I find Joseph and Phebe B., ages 77 and 70, from New York, on the 1910 census in Liberal but not the 1900 census. In 1910 they aren’t listed as being in photography. They were in Macedon, Wayne county, New York in 1880 (little Phoebe was 6 years of age so she was 13 when she died), but Joseph was given as a farmer and gardener, not a photographer. So, we know Joseph Fritts and his wife were early residents of Liberal, who would have been attracted to the area during Walser’s freethought period, but we don’t know if he owned the studio. Joseph is the only Fritts in Liberal in 1910, and there are no Fritts families there in 1900, Joseph and Phoebe were then living in Drywood, Bourbon, Kansas, and Joseph was again listed as a gardener. If they did run a Fritts studio and it was still in Liberal as late as 1909, they may have sold it by that time. Or perhaps they had nothing at all to do with the Fritts photo studio.