LIMA — Albertus R. Krebs knew something about weddings.
By the time he died in July 1888, Krebs, who was married three times himself, had overseen enough nuptials that the Lima’s Daily Democratic Times took note of it in reporting his passing.
“He was quite popular with the people, and his services in performing marriage ceremonies were always in demand,” the Times declared on July 24, 1888, when Krebs died at the age of 79. “A glance over the record in the Probate Judge’s office will probably show more marriage ceremonies by Rev. A.R. Krebs than by any other minister in the county.”
In addition to his role as a minister, Krebs, who had arrived in Lima 36 years earlier, also was an early photographer and was twice elected county recorder. In his later years he also dabbled in selling monuments.
Born in April 1809 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Krebs was the son of Jacob and Catherine Krebs. In April 1830, he married Margaret E. Staley. Appropriately for a man who would wear more than one hat during his years in Lima, Krebs started out making and selling them. Records from the mid-1830s into the 1840s, list him as a hatter working in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where his daughter Anna Eliza was born in 1836. A second daughter, Sarah Alberta, was born in 1854.
“Father Krebs came to this county in 1852 and opened up a studio and for a number of years made that his business, and many of us now crowding up to middle age still have in our possession daguerreotypes (an early photographic process) taken by him a quarter century ago,” the Allen County Democrat wrote at the time of his death in 1888.
The Times noted that Krebs “was engaged for quite a while in the daguerreotype type business in the room now known as Sanford Hall, over Marmon’s drug store.” Sanford Hall stood in the southeast quadrant of the Public Square. Krebs also had operated a studio from the second floor of the old county courthouse, which also stood in the Square.
Although engaged in a novel business for the 1850s, Krebs did have competition. Jesse Wilkinson, a traveling photographer who worked out of a “Daguerrean Car” in the Square, promised that “persons who have been unfortunate in obtaining good pictures from other operators, can have them retaken at the Car for 37 ½ cents.” In particular, the ad declared “Brother Krebs’ pictures retaken for 12 ½ cents.”
In a July 1859 ad in the Democrat, Krebs touted a new process in which “the likeness is first taken on glass, from which any number of impressions can be taken,” adding that “persons wishing to supply their friends can do so without the unpleasantness of repeated sittings.” The ad goes on to state that Krebs also takes “ambrotype, melainetype & daguerreotype.”
In December 1869, Krebs first wife, Margaret Staley, died after suffering “for several years with dropsical affection (congestive heart failure) of the heart …” Mrs. Krebs, the Democrat wrote, “was an estimable wife, affectionate mother, kind neighbor and consistent Christian.” Both Krebs and his first wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, which Krebs served as a minister.
Krebs remarried in September 1870, taking widow Elizabeth Shuler Garretson as his second wife. Unlike his first marriage, which lasted four decades, Krebs and Garretson were divorced in 1875 after less than five years. She eventually settled in Los Angeles, California, where she died in 1910. The following year, Krebs married Anna Eliza Rankins, who also died in 1910.
“In addition to his labors as a an artist he was a Methodist local preacher and exhorter,” the Times wrote, while the Democrat noted that “Rev. Krebs has always been a consistent Christian, and for a number of years was a local preacher and exhorter, his prayers possessing a peculiar and powerful effectiveness.”
Krebs apparently used his “peculiar and powerful effectiveness” in the cause of temperance. In a letter published in the Democrat on April 2, 1874, D. Harpster of West Cairo (Cairo), who described himself as a farmer, praised speeches made for the cause in that town. “I will just say in conclusion that Elder Harmount of the M.E. Church, and our Recorder, Mr. Krebs, delivered very able lectures on the subject of temperance last Friday night at West Cairo.”
Krebs the photographer and preacher had, since 1869, also been the county recorder. “He was a staunch Democrat, and in the fall of 1869 was elected Recorder of Allen County, succeeding Jacob M. Haller, whose second term as Recorder expired with that year,” the Times wrote. “He made a most efficient officer.”
In the mid-1870s, Krebs bought out the Lima Marble Works on Tanner Street (today’s Central Avenue) between High and North streets. According to an ad in the Democrat from August 1876, the company offered Italian and American marble, Scotch granite monuments and building stones.
By the 1880s, age was catching the ever-busy Krebs. Noting that the “many friends of A.R. Krebs who were wont to see him about on the streets of this city” had not seen him for some time, the Times wrote. “Inquiry as to the reasons for this change revealed the fact that old age had crept on apace, and that the sturdy manhood which had enabled Mr. Krebs to endure the life of a pioneer” had been supplanted by “decrepitude.”
“For several months he has been growing weaker, and last night shortly after 12 o’clock his vital spark was extinguished, and his soul took its flight into the great futurity beyond,” the Times wrote on July 24, 1888.
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.