Who Worked in William Henry Jackson’s Denver Studio? (Part 1)

William Henry Jackson, 1870, History Colorado

William Henry Jackson is arguably the  most famous  19th century landscape photographer.  After nearly a decade photographing the West for the Hayden Survey, in 1879 Jackson opened a studio in Denver.  I had a number of questions about his business:  Who worked for him?  Did any of his employees go on to have careers of their own?  How many women worked for the firm and what they do?

Luckily, the Denver Public Library has digitized many of the Denver City Directories, and with  key word searching, I was able to begin to answer some of these questions.  Historic newspapers helped fill in some of the gaps.

Jackson’s Denver operation first appears in the 1880 city directory.  The list below provides Jackson’s entries from the city directories or newspapers (April 1880), followed by a list of his employees and their roles in the firm, with the dates of their employment. I have included all the names associated with Jackson’s photo studio.

1879-1880   W. H. Jackson, photographer, 413 Larimer St. 

Miss Sadie Crisp, reception lady     (1880)                                           Miss Sadie Crisp worked for Jackson for about a year before joining Denver  photographer, A. E. Rinehart in 1881.  In December 1882, Sadie Crisp attended the Colorado State Teachers’ Institute in Pueblo. (The Colorado Daily Chieftain, December 28, 1882, p4, c3)

Frederick D. Jackson, photographer, operator, printer (1880, 1885-89, 1891, 1893-94)                                                                              Fred was one of Jackson’s younger brothers.His photographic career began in Omaha, Nebraska, in the late 1860s with the Jackson Bros. firm, and continued off and on for the Denver studio in the 1880s and 1890s. He worked for A. E. Rinehart in 1881.

William Henry Jackson. The 1874 photographic division, on the way to Los Pinos and the Mesa Verde. Left to right: Smart, Anthony, Mitchell, Whan, Ernest Ingersoll, and Charley, cook. Dolly, the mule, stands between Charley and Ingersoll, National Archives

R. M. Mitchell, operator  (1880) Probably Robert Mitchell, a packer working under W. H. Jackson on Hayden’s 1874 survey team.

Frank T. Smart, photographic printer (1880)
Smart [circa 1857-91] was Jackson’s general assistant during the 1874 Hayden Survey.  Smart worked for the U. S. Geological Survey, from 1884 until his death from consumption in 1891.

April 1880     Jackson & Rinehart, 413 Larimer St.                                                                                                   

Jackson & Rinehart
Jackson & Rinehart, Unidentified portrait, History Colorado

Jackson formed a partnership with prominent portrait photographer, Alfred E. Rinehart.  Rinehart (1851-1915) began his photographic career in Denver in 1876.  He worked in the city until his death in 1915.  



1881 W. H. Jackson, Landscape Photographer, 18th, cor Wazee
The January 1, 1881 Denver Post reported that Jackson had retired, with Rinehart taking over his studio.  But Jackson had received a major commission from the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, which kept him away from the Denver studio.

1882   W. H. Jackson & Co., Landscape Photographers                                                                                                        Lester J. Bennett, photographer (1882)

Samuel Atkinson Grigg, photographer (1882)                                Grigg [b. circa 1851]  attended the Episcopal High School of Virginia, near Alexandria, where he excelled in German. (Alexandria Gazette, July 17, 1867, p3, c1)  He worked as a photographer in Alexandria between 1876 and 1881, before moving to Denver and working under Jackson.  Grigg is listed as an artist in the 1883 Denver City Directory.  He remained in Denver for decades, working as a bookkeeper.

Andrew McKirahan, photographer  (1882)

Frank L. Mortimer, photographer  (1882)                                               Mortimer is also  listed as a photographer in the Leadville City Directory published in June 1882.

1883   W. H. Jackson & Co., landscape photographers, 414 Larimer                                    
William H. Brown, printer (1883)

Walter A. Chamberlain, printer (1883-86, 1888-92)                         W. A. Chamberlain (1859-1916) learned photography from his father, William G. Chamberlain, one of Denver’s earliest and most prolific  photographers.  After his photographic career, W. A. worked with his brother in the W. J. Chamberlain Ore Company.

As you can see, biographical information for many of Jackson’s employees is scarce.  If you have information about these individuals that you would like to share, please let me know and I will update the post.  I  will cover later dates in future posts.



Where Was Gold Hill?


Acme Mine
Edward F. Bunn, photographer. Acme Mine, Gold Hill, Wyoming, albumen silver print, 1891, Denver Public Library, western History Collection, X-61518.

It seems like every western mining region has an area named Gold Hill.  For years, researchers have assumed that Edward F. Bunn’s 1891 photographs of Gold Hill were made in Boulder County, Colorado.  Today, a drive up the steep, unpaved road to Boulder’s Gold Hill reveals a landscape quite different from that seen in Bunn’s photographs.  And with a little digging (pun intended), we can now prove that Bunn’s Gold Hill photographs were not made in Colorado, but in southern Wyoming.  

Edward F. Bunn, circa 1900, Fort Collins History Connection.

Edward F. Bunn was born in July 1855, in Muskingum County, Ohio, to Elnathan  Raymond Bunn, Sr. (1817-1908) and his wife Dorcas Crumrin Bunn (1823-1882).  He was the fourth of six children, born into a farming family, an occupation that Edward himself would pursue in Missouri.  Edward even patented a cultivator in 1884. 

Edward married Mary Ann Dyer (1856-1940) in 1877 in Missouri.  The couple visited northern Colorado in March 1885, before moving to Fort Collins that June (Rocky Mountain News, March 13, 1885, p3, c1). Mary Ann’s mother and step-father, William T. Campton, and their two sons also lived in Fort Collins. 

It is not known when Edward Bunn learned photography.  In 1890 he and Stephen H. Seckner formed a  short-lived photography partnership.  The following year, Bunn worked alone, out of the old  stand he formerly shared with Seckner, as well as his horse-drawn photographic wagon.  While he did make portraits, Bunn enjoyed working outdoors and specialized in landscape views.  He also offered “one chance in a lifetime” to learn photography. (Loveland Reporter, February 26, 1891, p1,c2)

Edward F. Bunn, photographer. Edward F. Bunn’s photography wagon and tent, albumen silver print, 1891, Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Z-3084.

Health concerns led Bunn to visit Wyoming’s rugged Medicine Bow Mountains in July 1891.  The timing was fortuitous, as gold had been discovered in the mountains the previous summer, but too late in the season to fairly assess the prospects.  Bunn arrived on the scene and found the miners at work.  He could not pass up the opportunity to make photographs, and  accepted an assignment from the Board of Trade to photograph the Gold Hill Camp and Battle Lake (The Saratoga Sun, July 14, 1891, page 3, column 2). 

The blog’s lead photograph shows a group of well-dressed men standing behind a pile of egg-sized ore nuggets from the Acme Mine and a log structure under under construction.  The mine operated double shifts, with plans to ship the ore to Omaha, Nebraska.  (The Wyoming Commonwealth, August 9, 1891, p2, c2)

The Saratoga region had seen brief bursts of activity briefly before.  Back in 1868, the area supplied railroad ties for the Union Pacific Railroad.  Bunn photographed one of the abandoned camps.

Edward F. Bunn, photographer. Coe & Carter’s Tie Camp, albumen silver print, 1891, Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Z-5449.

Bunn planned on staying in the Saratoga area for about three weeks, but he spent at least an additional three weeks in the region.  He set up a temporary studio on the west side of town in late July and early August, making portraits of local citizens, charging $4.00 for popular cabinet-size portraits. (The Saratoga Sun, July 28, 1891, page 4, column 5). These portraits measured 4 x 5-1/2” and were mounted on heavy card stock.

The Platte Valley Lyre reported on July 30, 1891:  “E. F. Bunn, a photographer from Fort Collins, has taken a number of fine views of the Battle Lake country during the past week.  He has fifteen views in all, giving one a very clear idea of the beauty of this lake on the summit of the Sierra Madres and the magnificent scenery surrounding it.  We have seen quite a number of views of the lake, but none of them equaled those taken by Mr. Bunn.  He also visited Gold Hill, securing as many photos in that region, but his plates were accidentally injured.  He will therefore visit the camp again soon…” 

By the late 1890s, the Wyoming gold camps had petered out, as did Bunn’s photographic career.   The 1900 federal census lists Edward Bunn as a photographer at St. Cloud, north of Fort Collins.  A few years later, he moved to Collbran, Colorado, in Mesa County, where he had success as a dry farmer.  Over the years he grew wheat, Concord grapes and sweet corn.  He also did carpentry work, enlarging the photo studio of R. C. Phipps (The Plateau Voice, June 2, 1916, page 1, column 1).

Edward F. Bunn died on May 6, 1947.  He is buried in Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery. 

Additional photographs by E. F. Bunn are available at the Denver Pubic Library’s website: https://digital.denverlibrary.org/digital/

An earlier version of this post appeared in Annuals of Wyoming: The Wyoming History Journal, v84, no. 4 (2014), p20-26.