Louis James Pesha

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Only known photo of Louis Pesha. He is shown photographing a passing ship on the St. Clair River.

Louis James Pesha (August 11, 1868 – October 1, 1912) was a noted photographer of ships of the Great Lakes and early 20th century Michigan landmarks. Pesha died an accidental death while operating his steam-powered automobile. He practiced his trade, owning the Pesha Postcard Company in Marine City, Michigan. Today, his photos are of highly sought by collectors of Great Lake memorabilia.

Early life[edit]

Pesha was born on August 11, 1868 at Euphemia, Ontario, Canada. He worked in farming in the Euphemia area until about 1895, when he learned the photography trade. For the next six years, he had studios in Oil Springs, Inwood, Alvinston and Brigden, Ontario.

Lena E. Pesha standing in front of the Pesha Art Studio in Marine City, Michigan.

His studio[edit]

In 1901, Pesha moved to the United States and settled in Marine City, Michigan. He opened a photography studio (known as various variations of “The Pesha Postcard Company.”

His primary focus was photographing commercial ships as they passed in front of his studio, on the Saint Clair River. He also traveled around the Great Lakes Basin, photographing railroad stations and buildings in villages, towns and cities in the United States and his native Canada. He would later print his photographs as postcards, selling them to stores for the public to buy and use.

Following Pesha’s death in 1912, his widow continued the business, in Marine City, until about 1920. She later moved the business to Detroit, but photopostcards passed out of fashion in the 1920s. The vast majority of his glass negatives were then destroyed.

1910 White steam powered automobile operated by Louis Pesha at the time of his death.

His death[edit]

In 1910, Pesha purchased a White (brand, not color) steam powered automobile. This was then considered the Cadillac of luxury steam cars and was the only one registered in Marine City. On October 1, 1912, while visiting his parents’ farm in Euphemia, Ontario, he died when his car overturned and his skull was fractured. He is buried in a family plot in Shetland, Ontario.


On August 29, 1892, Pesha married Lena E. Fancher of Santena, IL. They had one child, born in 1901, Lorraine Pesha.