About The Hampton Public Library/City of Hampton Historical Collection Photographs

Notes on the Cheyne Family | Format of Original Images
Hampton Public Library & Hampton Historical Collection | Related Resources | Search Tips

The Cheyne collection is an irreplaceable photographic record of the City of Hampton, Virginia, between the years 1894 and 1945. The images are particularly representative of downtown Hampton businesses: the seafood industry, particularly James S. Darling & Son, Oyster Packers; and the hotel and seaside resorts, particularly the first and second Chamberlain Hotels, Buckroe Beach, and the amusement park. Individual and family portraits include many of the prominent Hampton families and several images of Civil War veterans. There are a large number of images of Christopher Cheyne and his family.

The Cheyne photograph collection contains approximately 4,000 images, of which a little over 1,400 are represented in this online collection. The collection is particularly strong from 1900 to 1940. The photographs are part of the City of Hampton Historical Collection, and are currently located at the Hampton History Museum, 120 Old Hampton Lane, Hampton, VA 23669, (757-727-1610).

Notes on the Cheyne Family

Christopher Ethelbert Cheyne (July 5, 1867- August 14, 1943) was born in Brampton, Canada to an Irish family who migrated there in the 1700s. As a young man, he emigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, to study portrait painting. While there, he apprenticed himself to the leading photographer in that city. In 1894, he relocated to Hampton where he married Miss Emily Louise Couch (January 1, 1867-December 27, 1945), a Hampton school teacher. The Cheynes had two daughters, Emily and Marian, and one son, William Ethelbert "Happy" Cheyne, born in 1898. Cheyne opened his first photographic studio in a frame building at Gatewoods Corner in Hampton in 1894. About 1895 he moved to the second floor of the old Rowe Department Store on Queen Street where he made portraits and family groupings, and completed various commercial assignments. After five years at that location, he moved across Queen Street to the old Lake Building. There he maintained a music store on the ground floor, and had his photography studio on the second floor of that building.

William Ethelbert (Happy) Cheyne (1896-1976) was the son of Christopher E. Cheyne. He took over the business in 1928. "The job of a portrait photographer," said "Happy", "is to paint with light, to render the most complimentary result, but without losing the individual personality of the subject". The business closed in the 1960s. "Happy" Cheyne died in 1976.

Format of Original Images

The collection consists of original photographic prints, glass negatives, and gel negatives.

Hampton Public Library and the Hampton Historical Collection

Related Resources

Search Tips

Punctuation and capitalization are disregarded. Entries in this database are arranged in letter-by-letter alphabetical order. In addition to the regular searches, you may click on any highlighted element of a database record (such as a title) to initiate a search on that element. Each record in the Christopher E. Cheyne Photograph Collection database consists of:

Titles consist of brief descriptions of the photograph taken from an unpublished finding aid.



The date the photograph was taken (if known) is recorded in the database record. Dates are keyword searchable. Examples of dates are:

Image Numbers
Image numbers were arbitrarily assigned to the photographs as they were cataloged, and are visible only in the MARC display.  These numbers are keyword-searchable.


Subject Headings
Each record contains one or more subject headings. Words found within subject headings are keyword searchable. Most subject headings currently in records were derived from the unpublished finding aid compiled by the local library.


Click on the URL at the top of the full record display to view the digitized image.

For more detailed help with searching, click on the "Help" link on the main search screen and scroll down to "Search Functions" and "Search Tips."

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