Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: G.F. Kaber

George Frederick Kaber was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 15, 1860, according to a 1924 passport application.

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census recorded Kaber, his Wurtemburg-born parents, George and Mary, and younger sister, Julia, in Philadelphia. His father was a cabinetmaker. A 1870 city directory listed the Kaber’s address as 407 South 5th Street.

Information regarding Kaber’s education and art training has not been found.

Kaber’s occupation was draughtsman in the 1880 census. He lived with his parents in Philadelphia on Orleans Street. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Death Certificates Index, at, said Kaber’s father passed away November 13, 1881.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania), September 29, 1882, published the following report:

Carrie Smith, twenty years old, living at No. 265 South Third street, was murderously attacked by Charles Volka, a German barber, whose attentions, it is said, she declined to receive. After walking together on Wednesday evening, and when at her door, Volka stabbed her in the left breast, inflicting a serious wound. After throwing the knife in the ball of the house Volka fled, and induced Frank Forner to ascertain her condition. Forner was arrested and Volka was captured soon after. Both had a hearing before Magistrate Martin yesterday, when Mrs. Anna Errickson, who keeps the house, and Rebecca Russell. a boarder, testified that Forner, who told the magistrate that his correct name was G. Frederick Kaber, had said: “I know all about it. I am responsible for it.” The blood-stained weapon was produced by Officer Burns, of the Third district, who picked it up, and Volka told the magistrate that it belonged to him. “That’s enough evidence for me,” remarked Magistrate Martin. “I will commit you both without bail to await the result of the girl’s injuries.”

At some point Kaber moved to Chicago. The 1887 Chicago city directory said he resided at 52 Pine Street. In 1888, Kaber’s address was 246 Ohio Street.

A family tree at said Kaber married Nellie Robie on February 14, 1893 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. According to the 1910 census, this was his second marriage.
The couple moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Kaber’s talent and income were noted in Brooklyn Life, June 22, 1895:

It is all very well to talk about artists and illustrators, and the high price they command, but there is a modest little man on the Park Slope whose income oversteps any of theirs—save, perhaps, C.D. Gibson’s—and who nets a great part of the year over sixty dollars a day. His name is Frederick Kaber, and his home is a simple little house on Prospect place. He makes designs for lithographers, and many of the most famous colored advertisements come from his water color brush. Representatives of the great firms in the business come to him from everywhere, and each hour of his time is mortgaged for months ahead.

Kaber’s next documented address was found in the 1898 and 1899 Brooklyn, New York city directories, which had him at 266 Decatur Street.

According to the 1900 census, artist Kaber and Nellie had two daughters, Nellie and Grace. His address in the directories was the same in this census and the 1905 New York state census.

Kaber’s mother passed in Philadelphia on November 20, 1905.

According to American Newspaper Comics (2012), Kaber drew the Carolyn Wells-penned series, Adventures of Lovely Lilly which ran in the New York Herald from 1906 to June 9, 1907.

Also in 1906, Kaber illustrated In Childhood’s Unhappy Hours (below) for the New York Herald.

I believe Kaber was the artist who did the artwork for the 1908 Pabst Extract Jewel Calendar. The first sentence of the advertisement begins: “This latest creation by Kaber…” The style is similar to Kaber’s 1911 calendar art for Rainier Beer. In 1912, Kaber was one of several artists producing artwork for M. Boettiger, of New York, who held the copyright.

Kaber and his family continued living in Brooklyn at 266 Decatur Street as recorded in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. According to the New York Courier and International Topics, May 22, 1915, Kaber was involved with the International Pure Milk and Food League, “an organization of philanthropically inclined women, who spend much of their time in ameliorating the condition of the poor in this city…”

In 1916, Kaber was granted a patent for a “display device”. The pose of the woman in the patent drawing is similar to the manufactured display of a woman.

Kaber’s daughter, Nellie, was the first to marry in the early to mid-1920s. Her husband was Edward Dennis Lyons according to the family tree. The New York Times, April 19, 1925, noted the marriage of Grace. 

The marriage of Miss Grace Kaber, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. Frederick Kaber of 266 Decatur Street, Brooklyn, to William C. McTarnahan of this city and Boston, formerly of California, took place yesterday at the home of the bride’s parents. The ceremony was followed by a wedding breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton.

The bride has appeared in motion pictures and has also acted in a number of Broadway successes. Mr. McTarnahan is President of the Petroleum Heat and Power Company. Following their wedding trip to Chicago and the Pacific Coast, Mr. and Mrs. McTarnahan will return to make their home at the Westchester Biltmore Country Club, Rye, N.Y.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle 4/19/1925

The San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 1926, said the couple honeymooned in San Francisco and told of her acting.

…Mrs. McTarnahan said that her honeymoon was the first attraction to take her away from Broadway.

“But marriage will not end my career on the stage,” she insisted. “My husband agrees to that.”

Some time after the wedding, Kaber and his wife made their second trip to Europe; the first was in 1913.

According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 14, 1926, Kaber was a juror in the John Maxwell murder trial. Maxwell and two accomplices murdered a woman during a robbery. Maxwell was found guilty and executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison on December 10, 1926.

A death notice for Kaber’s son-in-law, Edward Lyons, was printed in the Eagle, October 7, 1926:

Lyons—On Wednesday, Oct. 6, 1926, Edward D. Lyons, in his 40th year, husband of Nellie Kaber Lyons of 576 Eldert lane. Funeral services at the Fairchild Chapel, 86 Lefferts pl., near Grand ave., Brooklyn, Friday evening at 8 o’clock. Interment private.

The Eagle, June 19, 1928, noted Kaber’s vacation plan: “Mr. and Mrs. G. Frederick Kaber of 1092 Carroll st, and their daughter, Mrs. Nellie Kaber Lyans [sic], will sail on June 30 to spend the summer in Europe.” The Eagle, May 28, 1929, said Kaber’s wife was going overseas: “Mrs. G. Frederick Kaber of 1092 Carroll st, will sail tomorrow for Europe.”

Kaber’s address in the 1930 census was 290 Carroll Street in Brooklyn. Kaber continued working as a commercial artist. A 1939 passenger list had this address for Kaber’s wife, 18 Watson Avenue, Ossining, New York. Kaber’s daughter Grace and family also resided in Ossining.

Kaber and his wife returned to Brooklyn in the 1940 census. Their home was 24 Monroe Place, which was daughter Nellie’s former address on the aforementioned 1939 passenger list.

Kaber painted portraits of his family as well as a self-portrait.

Letters by Kaber’s daughter, Grace, were auctioned in 2009. The description said she wrote a thank you letter to her 90-year-old father, who was erroneously called her grandfather.

Kaber passed away in 1951 according to the family tree. It’s not clear if his death preceded or followed that of his son-in-law, William McTarnahan, who died October 18, 1951. Grace passed away in the late 1950s, who was followed by her mother, around 1960, and sister, Nellie, around 1964.

—Alex Jay

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