Mary Dudley Revisited

In 2021 I wrote a post about Mary Dudley.    At that time, I had not seen any work from her studio in Grand Junction.  This cabinet card photograph of two unidentified men in western wear shows off her talent as a studio photographer.  Like most 19th century photographers, Dudley’s mount does not include her first name.   In Grand Junction she used “M. Dudley” and  her Boulder, Colorado mounts just “Dudley.”  While some may think she was trying to mask her identity as a women photographer, I think she was just following the conventions of the time.  Does anyone have additional work from Dudley’s Grand Junction studio that they would like to share or know more about her time in Grand Junction?

Mary Dudley, photographer.
Mary Dudley, photographer. Two unidentified men, circa 1893. Cabinet card photograph.  W. G. Eloe Collection

Women Photographers on Colorado’s Eastern Plains

My list of women active in the Colorado’s 19th century photographic trades numbers nearly 100.  I suspect that number is much larger if you consider the wives and daughters who worked behind the scenes in family studios.  For Women’s History Month, I have featured five women active on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.  Some women pursued photography as an occupation, often combined with teaching, like Clara Ensminger.  And while this blog focuses on professionals, I included one amateur photographer, Alice L. Parker, due to her extensive documentation of  schools and ranches on the plains.  

Ermina Harriet “Minnie” Darling Henson Dayton (1867-1942)         Minnie Darling was born on August 23, 1867, in Breckenridge, Missouri, northeast of Kansas City, to Charles Nelson Darling and Elenor Louise Huber Darling.  The family moved to Kansas in the mid-1870s.  The 1885 Kansas census lists 17-year old Minnie married with a 4 month old son and living with her parents. In 1889, Minnie married Bruce Dayton, with whom she would have a second child.

Minnie Dayton lived in Brush, Colorado in 1899, where she operated a photograph gallery on Colorado Avenue east of the high school.  She produced cabinet cards and stamp photographs.  In March 1900, Minnie moved to Alva, Oklahoma where her husband was homesteading.  After his death in 1901, Minnie proved up the land.  By 1920, Minnie returned to Colorado, living in Morgan County until her death.  

Clara Amelia Ensminger (1859-1936)                                                               Clara Ensminger was born in Ohio in 1859 to George William Ensminger and Adaline Hanna Ensminger.  She spent her childhood on the family farm in Tama, Iowa.  In 1875, the family moved to Grinnell, Iowa.  Between 1877 and 1880, Clara studied at Iowa College (now Grinnell College).  The 1880 census listed Clara as a teacher in Grinnell.  

Two children
Clara Ensminger, photographer, Yuma, CO, circa 1890. Julia Driver Collection of Women in Photography. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

In 1884, Clara worked as a retoucher and finisher for photographer Charles Clifford in Newton, 20 miles west of Grinnell.  By December 1889, Clara lived in Yuma, Colorado where she operated a photography studio.  She also homesteaded 160 acres outside Yuma.  Clara spoke about geography to the Washington County Teacher’s Association in March 1893.  

By 1896, Clara was back in Iowa working again as a retoucher for Charles Clifford & Son in Muscatine, Iowa.  The following year she opened her own studio in Toledo, IA, hiring women as assistants and to cover for her when she traveled.  She often attended the annual Iowa State Photographers’ Association meetings.  Clara ran the photography studio until 1914, when she sold the business to Miss Lora Bingham, of Mount Tabor, Wisconsin.

Unidentified violist.
Clara Ensminger, photographer, Toledo, IA, circa 1900.  Unidentified violist. Julia Driver Collection of Women in Photography. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Clara moved back to Colorado around 1919.  She lived with relatives and worked as a retoucher.  In the mid-1920s she moved to the Los Angeles area to live with her sister, Mrs. Charles Norris.  Clara Ensminger died at the age of 78 on November 16, 1936.  She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.  

Aurelia “Marcella” Ensminger  (1857-1913), is the older sister of photographer, Clara Ensminger.  In 1876-1877, Marcella attended Iowa College’s (now Grinnell College) Ladies Preparatory school.  She taught school in Iowa before moving to Yuma, Colorado, where she continued her teaching career. She was listed in the 1893 Colorado State Business Directory as a photographer and teacher in Yuma, Colorado.  No examples of her photographic output have been found.  

Marcella  returned to Iowa in 1893.  She continued to teach and was considered one of the finest primary school teachers in Tama County, Iowa.   Marcella underwent cancer surgery in 1911 and 1912.  She died on May 2, 1913 and is buried in Helena Cemetery, Tama County, Iowa.  

school house
Alice L. Parker, photographer. School house, 1/2 mile west of Trego Place, 1895. Phillips County Museum.

Alice L. Parker (1865-1939) moved with her family in 1892 from Illinois to Sedgwick County, Colorado, where her parents, Bertrand DeRolf “B. D.” Parker and his wife, Caroline Farwell Parker started a sheep ranch.   

After a childhood illness, Alice walked with a cane and later in life used crutches.  Alice lived on the sheep ranch, south of Julesburg, for 14 years.   Her amateur photography documented day-to-day activities of the ranch and the local schools.    Later, she moved into town with her parents.  She was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving as registrar.

In 1893, Alice’s brother, Cuthbert Farwell (C. F.) Parker graduated from Illinois State Normal school (now Illinois State University).  He returned to Sedgwick County, Colorado and taught school.  Alice photographed his students outside the schoolhouse in 1895.  Alice Parker died May 23, 1939 and is buried at Hillside Cemetery, in Julesburg, Colorado.

The Fort Sedgwick Historical Society’s collection includes enlargements made from Parker’s glass plate negatives held by her descendants.

Rhoda Wilson Eslick McClintock Blowers (b.c. 1862-1932)                    The Julesburg Grit reported that Mrs. R. Eslick planned to open a photo studio in Julesburg, Colorado in December 1898.  Unbeknownst to the local citizens, Eslick had married J. A. McClintock, owner of Julesburg’s livery stable, a few weeks earlier in Denver.  In January 1903, The Grit-Advocate announced that Mrs. McClintock “has gone east to enter a photograph college for high art photography.”  She returned to Julesburg in April, but by  November she had relocated to Tonganoxie, Kansas, leaving her husband in Colorado.  She reunited with her husband in the spring of 1905, when they moved their businesses to Norfolk, Nebraska, but by the fall of that year, Mrs. McClintock had left her husband and moved to Denver.  Her photographic career seemed to end at this time.  She later moved to Des Moines, Iowa and later Buffalo, New York, where she lived at the time of her death.

Thanks to Stan Busse and Jeana Johnson at the Fort Sedgwick Museum, and Carol Haynes and Hilda Hassler at the Phillips County Museum for their assistance during my visit.  Yale University generously provided the scans for Clara Ensminger’s photographs.  Thanks to Beverly W. Brannan for proofreading this post.  The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research provided travel funds to visit these institutions.  

C. C. Wright Photographs Colorado’s Legislature

Charles C. Wright was born in East Livermore, Maine.  He married Sarah Ann Judkins on November 28,1860, in Lawrence, MA.  Marriage records cite his occupation as a teamster.

By 1870, Wright, known professionally as C. C. Wright, operated a photography studio in Lafayette, Indiana where he worked for more than a decade.  In 1882 he arrived in Colorado, setting up a temporary gallery in Central City, before opening a studio in Denver that December over Reithmann’s Drug Store, at the corner of Fifteenth and Larimer streets.

Stereo of Larimer Street
Alexander Martin, photographer. Larimer St. from 15th St., showing C. C. Wright’s photography gallery on the right, between 1882 and 1886, albumen silver stereo view. History Colorado. Accession # 84.192.405.

In 1884, for the July 4th holiday, Wright and his wife accompanied a small group to Silver Plume on the Colorado Central via the recently completed Georgetown Loop, an engineering feat of horseshoe curves and four bridges that were used to link Georgetown with Silver Plume, only two miles apart.

That same year, Wright employed a young Adolph F. Muhr, later known for his portraits of Native Americans.  In 1885, Wright’s brother-in-law, David Roby Judkins, briefly worked at the Denver studio. In December 1855, Wright opened a branch gallery in Central City, employing Morton E. Chase.

CO Senate
C. C. Wright, photographer. Colorado Senate, 1885, albumen silver print. Denver Public Library Special Collections.

Wright photographed the Colorado legislature on more than one occasion, making a composite portrait of the 1885 Colorado Senate.  He also made a group portrait of the pages that assisted the state legislature.  Nine boys wearing hats bearing the words “House Page,” stand in front of a hand painted backdrop.  The backdrop is signed on the lower left corner by Davis and a partner’s name that is illegible.  

Wright was one of six photographers who submitted work to the Colorado Manufacturers Exposition held in Denver in 1886.

House Pages
C. C. Wright, photographer. House Pages, between 1882-1887, albumen silver print. Denver Public Library Special Collections.

On January 20, 1887, Wright was traveling through the city in his carriage when he made a sharp turn.  The carriage tipped over, and Wright landed in the street.  He died less than a week later from injuries sustained during the accident at the age of forty-six.  A large funeral was held with participation of fraternal organizations and many local photographers. The procession led by the Opera House band, walked to Wright’s studio where services were conducted.  The crowd then proceeded to Riverside Cemetery.  

Shortly before his death, Wright had opened a new studio at 910 Sixteenth street. His wife is listed as a photographer in the 1887 Denver City Directory.  Henry Rothberger took over the studio by October 1887.

Thank you to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography, Library of Congress, for proof-reading this post.

William E. Few, A Civil War Veteran With A Camera

William Edwin Few was born on March 27, 1847, in New York state to William Few and Frances H. Phillips Few.  Few enlisted in the Civil War at the age of eighteen, joining the New York 8th Cavalry Regiment, Company K on March 23, 1865.  He mustered out on June 27, 1865, in Alexandria, Virginia.  

Nanny and child
Disbrow & Few, photographers. Mary Allen Watson and her nanny, June 15, 1866, albumen silver print on cdv mount. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

The following year, Few took up photography with a partner named Disbrow.  They operated as Disbrow & Few in Albion and Barre, New York. The firm photographed six-month old Mary Allen “Daisy” Watson (1865-1944) sitting on the lap of her Black nanny in June 1866.  While the 1860 and 1870 census records list servants in the household, none match up with the woman pictured.  

By 1870, Few had moved his business to Independence, Iowa, and a few years later he traveled south, setting up shop in Little Rock, Arkansas.  The 1880 census lists him as a photographic artist in Delavan, Illinois.  

Based on Few’s Canon City street scene showing blacksmiths Hyde & Ashby, the photographer arrived in Colorado before March 1881, when Hyde took sole control over the shop.  In 1883, photographer Augustus W. Dennis took Few as a partner in his Canon City studio.  After 1883, there are gaps in Few’s career.  He surfaces Montrose, Colorado in 1888 and in 1893 in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, again working with Dennis, until his contract expired in May 1894.  Later, Few moved twelve miles west to New Castle, Colorado, making cabinet card photos for three dollars per dozen.

Canon City street scene
Will E. Few, photographer. Canon City street scene, circa 1881, albumen silver print on boudoir card.  Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

Around 1897, Few moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, working as a caretaker at Lookout Mountain and residing in the Cravens House, a Civil War battle site.  William E. Few died on May 22, 1920, in Chattanooga.  His remains reside at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.  

Thank you to Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C., for  proof-reading this post.


Aaron Swanson’s Portrait of William Norris Moore, Denver’s First Black High School Graduate

Aaron Swanson arrived in Denver in 1885 as pastor of the Swedish M. E. Church.  In the spring of 1886, having resigned his position at the church, Swanson took over C. C. Wright’s photo studio in Central City, Colorado.  He worked briefly with Morton E. Chase, as Chase & Swanson in both Central City and Denver. His brother, John, was employed in the Denver studio. Swanson married Cora Johnson on November 24, 1887.  Sadly, Aaron Swanson died of consumption at his home in Denver on July 12, 1888.  

Aaron Swanson, photographer. Portrait of William Norris Moore, albumen silver print, 1887. Denver Public Library Special Collections.

Swanson photographed William Norris Moore (1872-1920), the first Black graduate of Denver High School, in 1887.  In his senior portrait, Moore stands in front of a painted studio backdrop of a nature scene.   Fashionably dressed, Moore wears a morning coat, checkered pants, watch fob and holds a walking stick.  His derby hat rests on a pillar.  

Moore spent the last years of his life in Omaha, Nebraska, where he worked a series of jobs including  waiter, porter, and janitor.  He died March 7, 1920 after a long illness, leaving a wife.

The William B. Coston Collection at the Wray Museum

Coston exhibit
William B. Coston exhibition, Wray Museum. Courtesy of the East Yuma County Historical Society, Wray Museum Collection.

One of the many exhibitions on display at the Wray Museum, on Colorado’s eastern plains, is devoted to the work of photographer  William B. Coston.  Coston carried on a photography business in Wray for decades.  The exhibition, comprised of copy prints made from Coston’s original prints and negatives, document the people and events of Wray, Colorado.

William “Will” B. Coston was born in the small farming community east of Skidmore, Missouri to Alonzo Coston and Ursula  Farris Coston on October 18, 1870.  The family lived on a 160 acre farm and operated a blacksmith shop.

Coston Family
Front: Alonzo and Ursula Coston Back: William Buford, Viola Belle and Semer Alonzo. Photo from

In March 1886, Alonzo Coston and his son, Will, loaded the family possessions, including farm implements and livestock, onto a boxcar and rode to Wray.  Will’s mother and two of his siblings waited for the pair to get settled before taking a passenger train to Colorado.  Alonzo resumed working as a blacksmith and Will set type for the local newspaper, The Wray Rattler.

Will met his future wife, Emma Grace Mason, at Wray’s Presbyterian church, where Grace played piano and Will sang in the choir.  The couple continued to engage in musical activities throughout their lives.  Grace offered piano lessons in the community and Will sang, played the cornet and served as bandmaster.

Will and Grace married in June 1894 and homesteaded north of Wray, practicing dry farming.  In an effort to find work during a drought in the late 1890s, the Coston’s moved to Greeley, Colorado.  It was there that Will Coston learned photography under Clark  M. Marsh.  He also learned the surveying trade.

William B. Coston’s cameras and posing chair. Courtesy of the East Yuma County Historical Society, Wray Museum Collection.

Around September 1, 1898, Coston opened his photography studio in Wray, dividing his time between the studio and his farm.  He made photographic portraits and also documented Wray’s businesses, celebrations, and farms.  Patrons came from western Kansas and Nebraska for portrait sittings.  Coston continued to be active as a photographer through the 1940s.

Chief St.
William B. Coston, photographer. Chief Street looking north, 1902. Courtesy of the East Yuma County Historical Society, Wray Museum Collection, photograph #213.539.4.

In 1910 Coston built a new one-story pressed red brick building for his studio.  The building measured 25 feet long and 70 feet long and included a large sky light, a modern portrait camera, a new  posing chair, and a shadow screen to direct light on the sitter.  He shared the building with The Peoples State Bank.

Sanborn map
Detail of Sanborn map, Wray, June 1912, Sheet 1; Coston studio at 309 S. Chief Street. Notice that there is another photo studio across the street at 334 S. Chief Street.

In late October 1922 a fire destroyed the Coston home when a kerosine lamp exploded.  The house was a complete loss and many of the photographer’s negatives were damaged in the blaze.   Over the years Will Coston pursued many occupations in addition to photography. He sold insurance, mined for gold and silver northwest of  Loveland, drilled for oil in Wyoming, operated the Olive Lake Resort, and held the position of Yuma County surveyor for several years.

Will Coston died on March 12, 1967 at the age of 96.  He was predeceased by his wife.  His remains rest in Grandview Cemetery, Wray, Colorado.

I am grateful to Ardith Hendrix, Director of the Wray Museum for her assistance during my visit and to The Peter Palmquist Memorial  Fund for Historical Photographic Research for providing funding for this research trip.  Thank you to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography, Library of Congress, for proof-reading this post.  


Fort Morgan Photographers

Fort Morgan, the county seat of Morgan County, is known as “The Capital of the Plains.”  Originally a stop along the Overland Trail, Abner S. Baker platted the town on May 1, 1884,   In the late 1800s, the city’s population never reached 700.  Traveling photographers or photographers who juggled more than one profession to make ends meet, served the needs of the community.  Profiles for  19th century photographers active in Fort Morgan  are below.  Do you know of any I missed?

Two children
F. E. Baker, photographer. Unidentified children, photographic print on cabinet card mount, 1890s. Courtesy, Fort Morgan Museum.

Frank E. Baker (1849-1939), a photographer from Greeley, Colorado opened branch galleries in Fort Morgan and Loveland in the early 1890s.  A biographical sketch of Baker will appear in a later post about Greeley.

Baker’s tender cabinet card portrait of two well-dressed children suggests that the child on the left may have been a difficult subject to photograph.  The child holds a doll and a partially eaten apple, while holding onto a hand from a hidden family member trying to comfort the young child.

Boy S. Bohn was born in Germany in December 1861.  Trained as a photographer in his native country, Bohn departed Hamburg, Germany on the Patria and arrived in New York City on December 26, 1895.  He may have worked in St. Louis, Missouri, before joining photographer F. W. Webster in Des Moines, Iowa in 1899. In April 1900, Jacob O. Brown employed Bohn in his studio.  By June 1900, Bohn resided in Medicine Creek, Nebraska, continuing to work in the photographic field.  His life after 1900 is undocumented.  

Horse & wagon
J. O. Brown, photographer. 211 Main Street, Fort Morgan. Photo Courtesy, Fort Morgan Museum.

Jacob O. Brown was born on January 12, 1871 north of Syracuse in Parish, New York to Isaac and Isabelle Brown.  By 1880, the family was living in St. Paul, Nebraska.  

In 1886, J. O. Brown operated a bicycle repair shop in Fort Morgan, Colorado.  After his marriage to Lettie M. Worrell in 1897, Brown opened a barber shop.   The first mention of Brown’s photographic work appeared in the February 4, 1898 issue of The Fort Morgan Times, an occupation he often practiced in addition to the tonsorial art.  Later that year he purchased a 6-1/2 x 8-1/2” camera, wanting to photograph animals and outdoor scenes, in addition to portraits.  He also made stamp photographs.  Stamp photographs were made by copying an image onto multiple stamp-sized  perforated and gummed photo paper.  Each image measuring only 3/4 x 1.”

Curry Hotel
J. O. Brown, photographer. Curry Hotel Under Construction, 1900. Courtesy, Fort Morgan Museum.

In November 1899, Brown acquired a new photo tent.  He held a contest to name the new studio, selecting “The Elite Gallery” as the winning entry.   In the spring of 1900, he hired German-born photographer Boy Bohn to work in his gallery for a short time.  Brown expanded his barber shop in 1902 and also opened an ice cream factory.  Brown left Colorado for the West Coast.   By 1914 he had settled in Tacoma, Washington, continuing to work as a photographer and barber.  By 1920 he resided in Salem, Oregon.  He died on July 1,1934 and his remains rest in Idlewilde Cemetery, Hood River, Oregon. 

Crescent Gallery–See T. H. Madden

Elite Gallery–See J. O. Brown

Rough Riders
Evans, photographer. Rough Riders, Brush, Colorado, 1890s. Courtesy, Fort Morgan Museum.

J. E. Evans was active as a photographer in Fort Morgan and vicinity in 1898.

Field was an unidentified traveling photographer active in Fort Morgan in 1889.

Harrington & Son                                                                                                       A partnership of Joshua Henry Harrington and his son Orville C. Harrington.  As traveling photographers, they worked in Fort Morgan in 1888.

Graduation portrait
T. M. Madden, photographer. Graduation portrait of Bess L. Baker (1883-1960), 1900. Courtesy, Fort Morgan Museum

Thomas Henry Madden was born in Clay, Illinois to John Thomas Madden and Ann Maria Pfaff.  In 1869, he married Leah L. Buzick in Richland County, IL.  He worked as a day laborer and wagon maker.  

By 1895 Madden ran a photography gallery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, making outdoor views and portraits.  Concurrently, he grew crops on his farm on the south fork of the Republican River.  By the fall of 1896 Madden worked full-time as a photographer.  The following year, The Fort Morgan Times reported that Madden planned to go on the road with a well equipped, horse-drawn traveling photograph gallery.  Madden and J. Clark Silance spent three months photographing eastern Colorado.  When they returned, Madden continued on his own to work in the small towns on the eastern plains, including Brush and Sterling.  Later, he took his family to Nebraska where he carried on business.  

In 1899, Madden’s operation went by the name “Crescent Gallery,”  located opposite McComb’s livery stable in Fort Morgan.  He offered 25 stamp photographs for 25 cents.  

Madden ran his Fort Morgan studio until about 1908.  In 1918, two weeks after undergoing an operation, Thomas Henry Madden died on April 3, 1918.   His remains rest at Fort Morgan’s Riverside Cemetery.  

Madden & Silance, a partnership between Thomas H. Madden and J. Clark Silance, worked in Fort Morgan during 1897.

J. Clark Silance was born in Ohio in April 1867.  He grew up in Nebraska.  By 1896, Silance settled in Fort Morgan, Colorado.  Between May and August 1897, Silance traveled with T. H. Madden through eastern Colorado in Madden’s horse-drawn studio on wheels.  After leaving Madden’s employment, Silance raised livestock.  By the early 1920s, he lived in the Santa Monica area.  On September 28, 1935, Silance suffered a fatal heart attack in an orchard in California’s River Farms district.

With thanks to Brian Mack, Museum Curator, Fort Morgan Library and Museum for providing research assistance and access to the museum’s collections, and The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research for providing travel funds.

Ouray County’s 19th Century Photographers (Part 2)

This post provides a chronological list of all known 19th century  professional studio photographers in Ouray County between 1892 and 1900.   See my earlier post for photographers working between 1880 and 1891.  This post shows how quickly some studios changed hands.  Did I miss any photographers?  Can you provide any additional biographical details or photographs?                                                                   

cabinet card
Brumfield, photographer. Portrait of a woman in her home. Albumen silver print. Ouray County Historical Society.

1892-1898                                                           Micheal Brumfield (c. 1855-1922) Brumfield arrived in Ouray in 1890, working with John E. Gilbert as Brumfield & Gilbert.  Brumfield split his time between Ouray and Silverton, making landscape views and portraits.  The Ouray Herald reported on his panoramic view of Ouray produced in 1896.  In December 1896, Powell briefly took over Brumfield’s Ouray studio.  Brumfield returned to Ouray for the 1897 Christmas season.  Johnson took over his studio in January 1898.  Brumfield continued to operate out of Silverton until 1911. His portrait of the unidentified women (left) was likely made in the woman’s home, rather than a studio.

1896-1897                                                                                                                        W. A. Powell succeeded Brumfield in November, 1896.  He photographed Ouray’s July 3, 1897  snowstorm, selling more than 500 copies of the scene.  Later that month, Powell and his wife left Ouray for Boise City, Idaho.  His studio was taken over by the Reed boys.

1897                                                                                                                           Reed No further information found.

1897-1898                                                                                                                     Edward John Fowler, (1871-1927)  E. F. Fowler was born on August 11, 1871, in Chicago.  He attended the University of Michigan.  In 1897 he produced a souvenir booklet entitled “Around & About Ouray.” No copies of this booklet are known to be extant.   He was active in the Ouray Camera Club.  By 1900 Fowler had moved to California where he worked as an engineer.  Fowler died in San Francisco on October 19, 1927.  

1898                                                                                                                                    Johnson, possibly R. H. In January 1898 Johnson advertised as “successor to Brumfield.”  But in  March 1898, Thomas McKee purchased the fixtures of this gallery.

Thomas M. McKee  (1854-1939)  McKee’s primary studio was located  in Montrose, Colorado where he worked with his wife, Mrs. Amanda S. Kauffman McKee.  He opened his Ouray quarters, about 35 miles south of Montrose, in January 1898.

Mrs. Amanda S. Kauffman McKee  (1863-1919)  Mrs. McKee ran her husband’s studio when he traveled.

George Dalgleish   Dalgleish, worked in Georgetown and Silverton, and for a short time in Ouray.  The Ouray Herald reported on October 13, 1898 that Dalgleish sold his Ouray gallery to Morton E. Chase.

Morton E. Chase  (1861-1939) operated studios in Greeley and Colorado Springs before setting up shop in Ouray in October 1898.  In 1902, Chase went to work for Brumfield in Silverton.

Una Wheeler  After joining Ouray’s camera club, Wheeler perfected her skills to become a professional photographer.

Beaumont Hotel
Attributed to Una Wheeler, photographer. Beaumont Hotel, Ouray, silver gelatin print, circa 1895. History Colorado. Accession # 2000.129.939

1899-1900                                                                                                           Orlando Fred Tyler (1857-1917)  In 1899, Tyler arrived in Colorado, setting up a studio in Ouray in the Opera House block.  He advertised for a  young  lady to learn to finish photographs that November.  In March 1900 he opened a photography school at his gallery, planning to teach amateurs how to use their Kodaks.  By September 1900, Tyler had moved to Pueblo, Colorado.  

Working Dates Unknown   I have seen prints by both of the firms listed below at the Ouray Historical Society, but I have been unable uncover other details or date the studios.                                                 Ouray Art Gallery
Brumfield & Smith, a partnership of Michael Brumfield and an unknown individual named Smith.

Thank you to Gail Zanett Saunders, volunteer photo archivist, OCHS, for providing access to the work of several Ouray photographers during my visit.  Additional thanks to Kathy Gibson for bringing Frank S. Balster to my attention.  This research trip was possible due to the generosity of the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.



David J. Lamon’s Search For Fame And Fortune

David Lamon was born in April 1864 to Robert Lamon and Anna Early Lamon, the oldest of three children.  The Lamon’s lived in Hebron, New York a farming community near the Vermont border, about 60 miles northeast of Albany.  In the mid 1880s, David left home to seek his fortune in the West.  Along the way, he learned photography.

Champa Street
D. Lamon, photographer. 587 and 589 Champa Street, Denver, 1886.  Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. Collection of the author.

Lamon likely opened his Denver  studio at 1740 Larimer Street in the spring or summer of 1886, just after the publication of the annual city directory, as he is not listed in that directory.

His photograph of S. A. Doll’s Market at 587 Champa Street provides a good example in dating photographs.  Doll’s Market first appears in the Denver City Directory in 1886. The street number, 587, can be seen painted on the window below the valance.  With the tree fully leafed out, we can narrow the date to late spring through early fall.

Detail of 587 Champa Street.         

Doll formed a partnership with W. G. Smith in 1887, changing the firm’s name to Doll & Smith.  In addition, in 1887 Denver’s streets were renumbered.  587 Champa became 2205 Champa.  The men standing in front of the store may be Sigismunda A. Doll and his clerk, Theodore H. Kuhlenbeck.

Charlie Hong
D. Lamon, photographer. Portrait of Charlie Hong, Feb. 28, 1887. Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. History Colorado, Denver, accession number: 95.19.1.

In the 19th century, Denver’s religious institutions organized Bible studies, English classes and social events for Chinese immigrants.  In  1887, Lamon photographed Charlie Hong, interpreter for the Chinese Sunday School run by Denver’s Trinity Methodist Church.  Trinity Methodist’s 1899 Christmas program drew 500 attendees.  The Rocky Mountain News wrote: “Charlie Hong added laurels to his wreath of popularity, too, by the masterly manner in which he related a history of the school.”  A few years later, Hong was replaced as interpreter by Y. T. Fong.  In January 1894, in a jealous rage over losing his position, Hong assaulted Fong in the church.

D. Lamon, photographer. Portrait of three unidentified men, 1887. Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. History Colorado, Denver, accession number: 91.99.5.

In March 1887, Lamon took over J. W. Walker’s Golden studio for 30 days, turning out portraits like the one on the right of  three young men with attitude.  In 1888, Lamon returned to New York state, setting up shop at 67 South Pearl Street in Albany.  He returned to Colorado in 1891.  He accepted a position with Payne & Stockdorf in Leadville, but may have bypassed that opportunity to immediately open a studio in Denver, which he would oversee for the next two years.

In 1894, he opened a jewelry business in Denver, which he would oversee for several years.  But he pursued many other projects that brought him attention.  In 1895, he made national news when he discovered a rich vein of gold near Cripple Creek.  In 1904, Lamon was said to have discovered the lost art of tempering copper to the hardness of steel.  In 1926, Lamon planned to construct an iron and steel plant to produce “Lamon-ite,” a new process of manufacturing iron and steel with a tensile strength of from 25 to 75 per cent greater than steels now in  use.

Lamon died on February 27, 1943 in Denver and is buried at Fairmount Cemetery.

Thank you to Beverly Brannan, former Curator of Photography, Library of Congress, for proof-reading this post.  


W. C. Powers, Holyoke’s Photographer and Plumber

One of my goals is to visit Colorado’s small libraries and museums to learn from their collections.  In August I visited the northeastern corner of Colorado, a sparsely populated area comprised of farming and ranching communities, about 175 miles northeast of Denver.

Heginbotham Library, Holyoke

My first stop was the Heginbotham Library in Holyoke.  A former private home, now the local public library, has a small collection of local history books and a few photographs of the area.

My next stop was the Phillips County Museum in Holyoke, which holds a treasure trove of items related to local history, including items collected by local families–clothing, memorabilia, tableware and photographs. I found some surprisingly artistic photographs in their collection.

This post examines William Carder (W. C.) Powers, a photographer active in Holyoke for about 10 years between 1889 and 1899.  Powers was born in Eddyville, Iowa in 1859 to William Carder Powers and Emily Jane (Blair) Powers.  He worked as a machinist in Iowa before moving to York, Nebraska.  He arrived in Holyoke in 1889, less than a year after the town was incorporated.

cabinet card
W. C. Powers, photographer. Happy Hour Club, circa 1895, albumen silver print on cabinet card, Phillips County Museum.

Powers plied his trade out of a photo car opposite the State Herald newspaper office, advertising his ability to make images of farms and dwellings.  He touted his ability to process the photos in his own studio, rather than send them out of town to be finished.   On March 8, 1889, The Herald announced that Powers was photographing prominent buildings in Holyoke for use by the board of trade.  His photographs may have been used in a small booklet entitled, Holyoke and Phillips County. 1890 : The Metropolis of Northeastern Colorado. The Garden Spot of the Rain Belt Country … held by the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Powers sold individual photographs of the buildings for twenty-five cents.

Patent 406,934 for a Camera Attachment

In July 1889, Powers was awarded half interest in a patent for a camera attachment with Orlo L. Munger of Gresham, Nebraska.

Powers traveled between Colorado and Nebraska for his photographic work throughout the 1890s, setting up temporary workrooms  in Venango, Grant and Wallace, Nebraska.  By 1891, he also worked as a plumber in Holyoke and Grant.  During the winter months, he repaired frozen water pipes and in the warmer weather he fixed water hydrants, improved hotel plumbing and sold lawn sprinklers and hose.  By 1893, Powers was appointed Superintendent of the Water Works in Holyoke.

Although he lived in a rural area, Powers made sophisticated photographs. He captured the flooded streets of Holyoke after a big rain storm in June 1895, showing  Dr. F. M. Smith, C. J. Slater and G. W. Shuler rowing a boat along the aptly  named Inter Ocean Ave.  He made two photographs, one horizontal, one vertical, of members of the Happy Hour Club showing the six women playing a table game.  The women are standing in front of an elaborate painted backdrop.  

Powers also photographed a posed medical scene, with a man uncomfortably lying on a table with two men administrating aid.  The photographer used a reflecting screen, seen to the left of the patient’s feet, to boost the natural light coming into the studio.   Also, notice the use of the same backdrop as seen in the Happy Hour group.

cabinet card
W. C. Powers, photographer. Staged medical scene, circa 1895, albumen silver print on boudoir card, Phillips County Museum.

In 1899, Powers moved his family to Holdrege, Nebraska, 170 miles from Holyoke, where he opened a second studio.  A year later he sold his Holyoke studio to Nicholas A. Linstrom from Edgar, Nebraska, although there is no proof Linstrom actually ever did open for business in that location.   In 1901 Powers sold his Holdrege gallery and moved to Salt Lake City, before relocating permanently to Los Angeles.  He opened a studio with H. A. Konold at 453-1/2 South Spring street.  They specialized in developing for and printing photographs for amateurs and making lantern slides and souvenir postal cards. By 1910, Powers ran his own studio until his death on July 30, 1913.

My thanks to Carol Haynes and Hilda Hassler for their assistance in accessing the Phillips County Museum’s photo collections, Gretta Cox-Gorton, Library Assistant, American Antiquarian Society, Beverly Brannan, former Curator of Photography, Congress, and Karen Hendrix for her photographic expertise.  This research trip was possible due to the generosity of the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.