These two photographs from George Potter's collection from ca. 1896 are scenes from life in western Pennsylvania (Erie or Warren Counties) or western New York (Chautauqua or Eire Counties).
I can't say for certain what is going on in the first photo, but maple sugar syrup production might be a reasonable guess. There is still a commercial maple sugar producer near Corry, PA and many others around in Erie County. The winters are certainly severe enough there for a decent maple sap run in the early spring.
The man in the center of the image appears to be tending a long boiling trough with a fire underneath (regulated by a cloth flap) and vented through a sheet-metal chimney at the left (it isn't a tree trunk; the rivets are visible with magnification). A crude lean-to provides some shelter. A gent in a suit is visible through the steam off to the right, perhaps supervising the work. The seated child is not too interested in the proceedings.
Maple Sugar Production ca. 1896?
The next picture is a hunting scene, probably in western Pennsylvania. There is a partly-illegible notation on the cardboard mount which seems to focus on breakfast being served. The portly gentleman on the left with the rifle and axe is identified as one of George's maternal Hasbrouck uncles. Perhaps this is William Hasbrouck (1864-1919) whose eventual cause of death was "Diabetes (with) contributory cause imprudent eating."
|Hunting Breakfast Scene, ca 1896.|