Is That You, Dr. Cottrell?

Last month, Steven Beauter was kind enough to share an incredible vintage photo album with me, which featured more than a dozen pictures from 1918-era Penniman, Virginia, a “ghost city” six miles from Williamsburg.

There are several unidentified folks within the pages of Steven’s photo album, but I’m asking your help in figuring out one image in particular.

Two years ago, the family of Dr. John Henderson (a physician at Penniman Hospital) sent me a photograph of the staff of Penniman Hospital. It was a wonderful discovery. Dr. Henderson’s family also shared the December 1918 edition of “The Penniman Projectile” which provided an insight into day-to-day life at The Camp (as it was known).

With this new knowledge, maybe we can stitch together more of the fabric of this story.

Please take a moment and look at the image below and give an opinion!

Thanks so much.

To learn more about Penniman, click here.

A note about watermarks: It saddens me to alter these images by adding a watermark, but unfortunately, it’s a necessity of these times in which we live.


Within the pages of the Penniman Projectile, I found this picture, identifying Dr. Sam Cottrell as Pennimans Chief Physician.

Within the pages of the Penniman Projectile, I found this picture, identifying Dr. Sam Cottrell as Penniman's Chief Physician.



This image above came from the family of Dr. Henderson, and I can now identify the second fellow from the left as Dr. Samuel Cottrell (Penniman's chief physician). And I'm still hoping to figure out that woman on the far right. She was a female physician, employed by DuPont to provide care to the overwhelmingly female work force.


This image is from Steven Beauter’s photo album. My friend, Anne Robinson Hallerman, has posited that the man shown above is also Dr. Samuel Cottrell. I’m terrible with these type of judgments, but my first guess is, Anne is right about this.



Here's a picture of all three images together. Is that fellow on the far right also Dr. Cottrell?



Countless thanks to the family of Dr. John Henderson for sharing this 80-page magazine with me. It's the source of so much information about life at The Camp.


To learn more about Penniman, click here.



  1. Anonymouse

    Wow, he looks like he has gotten too close to the T.N.T. and failed to travel hastily away.

    Seriously, he looks like a very serious and worried man.

  2. Gemma

    I like the triptych of Dr. Cottrell. I believe the wind from the river and the angle of the sun may be affecting his pose where he’s holding his child (assuming it’s his child and wife).

    Or, perhaps, he just doesn’t like being photographed.

  3. Gemma

    On second thought, Dr. Cottrell is trying to keep his daughter’s attention on the photographer.

  4. Sears Homes

    Gemma, I had to look up “triptych”! What a wonderful word! Thanks so much for adding to my vocabulary today. I truly love learning new words.

    And thanks for replying. It lifts my spirits to find replies on this site. It means that someone is listening.

    Thanks, Gemma.

    I do hope that we can meet one day.