by Shannon Butler

Did you know there is such a thing as a National Mustache Day? Apparently we missed it back on April 9th (and to be quite frank, it doesn’t seem like a legit thing, more like a brief internet craze), but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to reflect on this random subject matter just for the heck of it. While flipping through the photograph collection here in the Local History Room it dawned on me that there were some serious mustaches (and other various forms of facial hair) that were quite popular at the turn of the 20th century. Everything from the handlebar, the horseshoe, the walrus, wacky sideburns and so on. By the way, the last President to have a mustache was William Howard Taft, all the way back in 1909-1913.

You can see from the display of photographs to the right that there were many different patterns that were used here in Poughkeepsie. Most of these images are from the late 19th century and these guys are considered very stylish for their day. John P. Adriance decided to go without a mustache or a beard and opted for mega sideburns instead (named after Civil War general Ambrose Burnside). The next gentleman with the name of Armstrong went for the ‘Uncle Sam’ look while Mr. William Beardsley (ironically) decided for no beard at all and just a plain mustache. From the looks of Mr. John Briggs, he didn’t want anyone seeing the lower half of his face with that beard covering everything below his nose. The Vail Brothers, who were the major photography studio here in Poughkeepsie, decided to emphasize the facial hair of Mr. John Donald as he is turned away from the camera showing the side of his face and the elaborate combination of sideburns and mustache.

Sometimes a gentleman’s creation could be much more simple and subdued like the Reverend Henry Ziegenfuss who is wearing what is known as the Walrus (popularly sported by Mark Twain). William Ringwood has a creation that was quite common in the Victorian era which is a mix of the English style with the Wild West look. Wearing the classic handlebar mustache is a local trolley conductor named Elsworth Rhodes and this look on him is very dignified. Well, there really are so many other facial hair designs to show you from our collection, but we hope you have enjoyed it (and perhaps some of you dudes are inspired).