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.  

Harry J. Gottlieb in Golden and Other Western Cities

Let’s take a look at a little known photographer who worked in Golden in 1904-1905.  Biographical details about Harry J. Gottleib are both limited and confusing.

Gottleib was born in New York City.  Records provide his birthdate variously as April 1874 (1900 census),  1880 (WWI draft records and 1920 census) and 1886 (1930 census).  Some of these dates are certainly unrealistic.  At around twelve years of age, Gottleib began photographing houses for an itinerant photographer.  For more than a decade, he made tintypes under the employ of a female tintypist on Coney Island.  In 1894 he married Daisy Ann Brown.  By 1900 they lived in northern Florida, where he worked as a photographer, first in Monticello and later in San Augustine.  (It is easy to confuse him with  N. I. Gottlieb, a photographer working in Ocala, FL in the 1890s, whom the press called “Artist Gottlieb.”) 

Harry J. Gottlieb, photographer. Unidentified man standing with a child sitting on a donkey, tintype, 1904 or 1905. Collection of the author.

In September 1904 Gottlieb set up a photo tent in Golden, Colorado where he worked for about a year. He specialized in photographs of babies for which he charged $5.00 for 16 stamp photos.  Very few of his Colorado photographs are extant.

After Golden, he lived briefly in Raton, New Mexico (1906), El Paso, Texas (1907-1911) and Tucson, Arizona (1911-1912).  By 1914 he resided in California, where he placed an ad in the San Francisco Examiner on March 26, 1915:  PHOTOGRAPHER: first class, all round man; wants position, or will take odd jobs and piece retouching.  H. J. Gottlieb, 1359 Golden Gate ave. In 1916 Gottlieb was back in Arizona, working in Phoenix (1916), Tempe, (1916-1919) and Williams (1919).

Gottlieb led a colorful personal life.  He married four times. He lost a custody battle over his daughter from his first marriage.  After the divorce of his third wife, Beatrice Montague “ended her own life after taking that of Hamilton W. Mannon, a motion picture executive… whose love for the beautiful girl had grown cold,” stated the Denver Post on August 7, 1927.  She left a young daughter that she had with Harry.

Harry’s Picture Place, Real Photo Postcard, ca, 1927. Hubbard Museum of the American West

Only when Gottlieb settled in Alamogordo, New Mexico in the mid-1920s, did his career flourish. He married his fourth wife, Bessie Graham, in 1924 and she joined him in the business. He continued to make portraits, but he also captured views of southeastern New Mexico’s stunning scenery, coloring them with oil paint. He open a second studio in Ruidoso, NM, where he sold postcards as well as other souvenirs.  Gottlieb’s pictures were also published in tourist brochures.  Harry Gottlieb died on August 2, 1936 of Buerger’s disease, which causes blood vessels to swell.

Special thanks to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography, Library of Congress,  for proof reading this post.

Ouray County’s 19th Century Photographers (Part 1)

This blog post provides a chronological list of all known 19th century  professional studio photographers in Ouray County between 1880 and 1891.  Part 2 will continue the chronology.  Did I miss any photographers?  Can you provide any additional biographical details?

First Gallery
The first photo studio in Ouray, circa 1880. Ouray County Historical Society.

1880-1881                                   Gilbert & Kelley  (aka Kelly) John E. Gilbert & D. J. Kelley (possibly David Jesse Kelley, 1850-1928) operated under the firm name of J. E. Gilbert & Co.  They dissolved their partnership in May 1881.

1880-1883, 1891                            John E. Gilbert (born circa 1858-1931)  John E. Gilbert began working as a photographer in Ouray, Colorado with D. J. Kelley, producing portraits and landscape views.  After May 1881, Gilbert continued the business on his own as the only photographer in town.  In August 1882, Gilbert planned to acquire a 14 x 17″ view camera for landscape work.  He kept busy photographing residences and mining concerns. In the mid-1880s, Gilbert moved about 200 miles northeast to Leadville, one of the most prosperous mining communities in Colorado.  Gilbert returned to Ouray in 1891, operating with M. Brumfield as Brumfield & Gilbert.  They boasted that they could take large views, just like the Denver photographers.  In 1914, Gilbert left Colorado for Seattle, Washington.  His final residence was the Kings County Alms House, where he died on January 2, 1931.  

1883?-?                                                                                                                                George R. Porter  (c. 1845-1896) George R. Porter operated at Sneffels.

George R. Porter, photographer. Unidentified group, albumen silver print, Ouray County Historical Society.

1884-1885                                                                                                                   Kuykendall & Whitney                                                                                                     A partnership of Frank Kuykendall and William Henry Whitney.

1884-1889                                                                                                                      William Henry Whitney  (1855-1936)  Whitney first appears in Colorado in 1882 as a partner in the photographic firm of Kuykendall & Whitney with Frank Kuykendall, working originally in Maysville, and later Ouray.  

In 1888, Whitney’s personal life made the newspapers when he was charged with having an affair with Mrs. J. H. Lewis, the wife of the manager of the Lewis Hotel in Ouray.  Whitney had worked as the accountant at the hotel one summer.  The Lewis’ divorced and Whitney married Lydia Lewis one week later.  

Whitney formed a partnership with Alvin L. Roloson in 1889, as Whitney & Roloson.  He then moved to Denver where he operated as a photographer and painter through 1892.  Whitney appears to have given up photography and moved to San Juan County, New Mexico, in the 1890s.  He later farmed in Coles Valley, OR before returning to San Juan County where he would live for the remainder of his life.  He died on December  30, 1936, in Cedar Hill, New Mexico and is buried in the Cedar Hill Cemetery.  

1888-1889                                                                                                                  Whitney & Roloson                                                                                                 A partnership of William H. Whitney and Alvin L. Roloson.

1889                                                                                                                          Herbert D. P. Reeve (1850-1918) H. D. P. Reeve was born in Horseheads, New York on October 23, 1850 to Silas G. Reeve and Sarah Tucker Reeve.  The 1870 federal census lists Reeve as an artist in Pleasantville, Pennsylvania.  In 1872 Reeve worked as a photographer in Sherman, New York.  

No information has surfaced about Reeve’s life between 1873 and the early 1880s.  Around 1884 he married Isabella Sparkes, a native of Sherman, N. Y.  The couple relocated to Battle Creek, Michigan where Reeve ran a photography business until 1886 when a fire destroyed his studio.  

Reeve photo
Reeve, photographer. Unidentified man, albumen silver print, circa 1889. Ouray County Historical Society.

In May 1887 Reeve moved to Pueblo, Colorado buying Mr. W. P. Mealey’s photography gallery for $3,000. He exhibited a collection of his photographs at the Pueblo State Fair later that year.  By November, Mealey, who had planned to focus on his real estate business, realized he missed photography. He and Reeve formed the Mealey-Reeve Company, promising to renovate the galleries and purchase new photographic equipment.   

Reeve did not stay in Pueblo.  He took a position with Clark in Salida, Colorado and in 1888 with Dean in Gunnison.  By 1889 he was in Ouray, but in February 1890 he had leased his gallery to S. G. White.  By 1891 Reeve was back in Pueblo, working as an alfalfa farmer.  He died on January 11, 1918, at the age of 67.  He is buried at Pueblo’s Roselawn Cemetery.  


Frank S. Balster, copyright claimant. Page from Gems of the Rockies, Ouray, Colorado, 1890.

Frank S. Balster (1861-1931) was born in Ontario, Canada.  He arrived in the U. S. around 1883, settling in Emporia, Kansas, where he worked as a watchmaker and jeweler.  Balster accepted a position with jeweler, C. E. Rose in Ouray and  moved to Colorado with his family in August 1889.  The following year, Balster published Gems of the Rockies, Around Ouray, Colorado.

In 1893 Balster relocated to Durango.  He was known as the “Scenic photographer of the San Juan Country.”  He continued to work as a jeweler and optician.  Balster remained in Durango until the mid-1910s, then moved to California.  He died at age 75 on November 4, 1931, leaving two daughters.                                                                                                                                                             

S. G. White worked at Newcomb’s Gallery in Salt Lake City in December 1889.  In March 1890, White took out a three month lease on the gallery formerly occupied by H. D. P. Reeve in Ouray.  He made portraits and landscapes.  After his lease ran out, he planed to open a gallery in Silverton.  By April 1891, G. W. Moore had taken over White’s gallery.  An S. G. White who operated a photo studio in Dardenville, Arkansas may be the same individual.                             

S. G. White, photographer. Ouray, ca. 1890, albumen silver print. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas


Adams photo
E. Adams, photographer. The Burro and His Playmates, 1892.  Ouray County Historical Society.                                                                                                                                             

1891                                                    E. Adams advertised his services as a landscape photographer in Ouray in the spring of 1891 in the Solid Muldoon Weekly newspaper.  In 1892 Adams relocated his studio to Silverton.

Brumfield & Gilbert                    A partnership of Michael Brumfield and John E. Gilbert.  They also operated a branch studio in Silverton.

Red Mountain
Brumfield & Gilbert, photographers. No. 31, Red Mountain, Ouray, CO., Winter Altitude, 11300 feet, 1891, Denver Public Library Special Collections.

Charles A. Erickson  (1866-1946) Born in Sweden, Erickson immigrated to the United States in 1882.  He came to western Colorado in 1891, working in Ridgway (1891, 1893); Montrose (1892-1893); Delta, (1893-1894, 1909-1912); Telluride (1894-1896); Rico, (1895); Florence, (1897-1899); Raton, NM, (1900-1904); Ouray, (1906-1909); and Malad, ID, (1920-1930).

Mineral Farm Mill
C. A. Erickson, photographer. Mineral Farm Mill, Ouray,Colo. Modern silver gelatin print. Denver Public Library Special Collections.

George W. Moore was born in the Finger Lakes region of New York in January 1854.  As early as 1870, he worked as a photographer in Orleans County, NY.  By 1888, Moore was employed as a photographer in Colorado, first in Grand Junction with T. E. Barnhouse as Barnhouse & Moore.  Later he took over S. G. White’s studio in Ouray. His extant work from Colorado includes boudoir card views of Ouray and the Red Mountain mining district.  In 1893 Moore relocated his photography business to Denison, Texas.  Moore’s photographs appeared as illustrations in T. V. Munson’s, Foundations of American Grape Culture, (NY: Orange Judd Company, 1909).  On March 2, 1911, Moore fell down a stairway at his home and suffered a head injury. He did not recover. Moore is buried at Fairview Cemetery in Denison.

"Porters," Mt. Sneffles, Colo., 1891-1893
George W. Moore, photographer. “Porters,” Mt. Sneffles, Colo., albumen silver print, 1891-1893, Ouray County Historical Society.

Thank you to Gail Saunders, volunteer, Ouray County Historical Society, for providing access to the OCHS’ photo collections.  This research trip was possible due to the generosity of the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.  







Loren “Ren” Phillips, Photographer in Saguache and Grand Junction

George Norris
L. R. Phillips, photographer. Portrait of George Norris, 1888, albumen silver print of cabinet card mount.  Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

Loren “Ren” Rawson  Phillips was born on October 27, 1867, in Hoosick Falls, New York to Lorenzo Simon Phillips and Olive Adelia Snyder Phillips.  In 1887, Phillips opened a photography studio in Saguache, a town of about 600 residents in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.  He charged $3.00 for a dozen cabinet cards, like the dapper portrait of George Norris with his bicycle.  Note that the brick wall behind the bicyclist is actually a beautifully crafted painted backdrop.  

Phillips photographed everything from babies to mining interests.  He also made stereoviews and specialized in copying  and enlarging photographs.

He exhibited his work at the Second Annual Fair of the Southwestern Colorado Industrial Association.  In 1890, Phillips photographed a city street in Saguache showing the office of the new Saguache Crescent newspaper, retouching his negative to add the sign for the paper.  At times, Phillips taught school in addition to his photographic work.  Phillips closed his Saguache photo studio on October 31, 1890, and moved to Aspen to assist in his brother’s hardware business.

L. R. Phillips, photographer. Saguache Street Scene, 1890; Denver Public Library

By 1892, Phillips lived in Roswell, New Mexico where he operated a photography studio, Phillips & Sheek.  Sheek’s first name is unknown, but the team made photographs that were displayed at the 1893 World’s Columbian  Exposition in Chicago.  Their photographs focused on the Alfalfa Palace, constructed from 2,500 bales of alfalfa and built for the Southeastern New Mexico and Pecos Valley Fair held in October 1892.  He married Ola Lee Fountain in Chaves, New Mexico on August 12, 1894.

Phillips returned to Colorado in the late 1890s, settling in Grand Junction where he continued to make studio portraits until 1899 when he sold his studio.  Phillips remained in Colorado for the next fifteen years working as a school principal and serving as town treasurer of Fruita.  He patented a globe for teaching geography, a fire kindler, and an oscillating water motor.

By 1930, Phillips lived in Los Angeles and was employed in the insurance industry.  He died on December 3, 1944, leaving a wife and five children.

Thanks to Beverly Brannan, recently retired Curator of Photography, Library of Congress for editing assistance and Karen Hendrix for pointing out the painted backdrop.  


George R. Porter’s Winter Scenes

George R. Porter, photographer. [Cabin in the snow], circa 1885, 5 x 4″ albumen silver print. History Colorado, 90.501.39
George R. Porter’s photographic artistry and expertise stand out among the 19th century photographers working in Ouray county.  Based in Sneffels, Colorado, a thriving mining community in the 1880s, Sneffels is now a ghost town.  During Porter’s time, winter travel between Ouray and Sneffels could prove dangerous due to avalanches and rock slides.

Porter’s use of a variety of photographic formats surprised me.  He made stereo views, boudoir cards, and unusual 5 x 4″ sized cards–I had never seen this format before.

George R. Porter was born around 1845 in Ottawa, Illinois.  He married Elizabeth Deland on May 27, 1867 in La Salle, Illinois.  In 1873, Elizabeth gave birth to their only child, Jane “Jennie” Porter. Porter worked as an express agent in Ottawa until moving to Colorado in 1875.  George came west to prospect near Georgetown, Colorado leaving his wife and daughter in Illinois.

George R. Porter, photographer. Detail of cabin in snow, albumen silver print. History Colorado-Denver, Colorado, 90.501.39

Porter relocated to Ouray County in 1877, where he would live for the remainder of his life.  Porter wore many hats, owning an interest in the Revenue Mine, serving as postmaster at Mount Sneffels and running a general store that included a room devoted to his photographs. He specialized in winter scenes and usually included people in his views.  One of his more unexpected views captured a funeral procession on snowshoes, as a group of miners carried their deceased colleague’s body to Ouray via a sled.

Snow drifts predominate Porter’s photograph of a cabin (above).  A close look at the left side of the image reveals a man smoking a long pipe and two cats, making the stark scene more hospitable.

George R. Porter, photographer. Frozen waterfalls, Canyon Creek,  circa 1885, albumen silver stereo view. History Colorado, 84.192.565

On December 10, 1895, a nail stuck into Porter’s knee, resulting in blood poisoning.  During his illness, Porter stayed at Ouray’s Beaumont Hotel.  He  succumbed to his illness on March 14, 1896.


Una Wheeler, Camera Club Member to Professional


Portrait of Una Wheeler Whinnerah, 1895, Ouray County Historical Society

Earlier this month I took a road trip to the Ouray County Historical Society’s Research Center to continue my study of  19th century Colorado photographers. Seeing examples of Una Wheeler’s photographs was the highlight of the trip.

Una Wheeler was born in Wisconsin on Valentine’s Day 1875 to Charles Augustus Wheeler and Abbie Eastman Wheeler.  She was the niece of  George M. Wheeler, superintending engineer of the Geographical Survey of the Territory of the U. S. West of the 100th Meridian.

In 1877, the family settled in Ouray, Colorado far from the amenities that the adult Wheeler’s enjoyed growing up on the East Coast.  Charles Wheeler, a surveyor and prominent citizen of Ouray, died unexpectedly from pneumonia on January 5, 1888 at the age of 38.  That left Abbie to take care of his wide-ranging business interests and their two children, Una (14) and Edward (11).  Charles’s nephew, Walter Wheeler, seven years younger than Abbie, stepped in to help with Charles’ businesses and ultimately married his aunt, Abbie.

Abbie and Walter performed in Ouray’s theater community.  They provided their children with a wide range of educational opportunities.  Una learned photography and classical dance.  Edward attended college in Denver.

Bachelor Trestle
Una Wheeler Whinnerah, photographer. Bachelor Trestle, circa 1900. Modern silver gelatin print from glass plate negative. Ouray Historical Society and The Huntington Library.

Around 1898, Una joined Ouray’s camera club.  While initially an amateur, Una eventually operated a photography studio out of the family’s home.  She photographed local landmarks, scenic views and mining interests with 5 x 7″ glass plate negatives.  Her friends  often posed whimsically  inside mines and with mining equipment.  

She displayed her photographs in the lobby of Ouray’s Beaumont Hotel and she sold her views at the San Juan Drug Company, alongside the work of other photographers.  Una offered both black and white and hand-colored photographs.  Later, when postcards gained favor, her work was printed in Germany–the place for  high quality and affordable postcards.

ore cart
Una Wheeler Whinnerah, photographer. Three woman and an ore car, circa 1900. Modern silver gelatin print from glass plate negative. Ouray Historical Society and The Huntington Library.

Wheeler married engineer, Richard Whinnerah, in 1902.  A few days before the wedding, seventy-five women attended  Ouray’s first bridal shower, gifting a total of 117 kitchen gadgets to Una.  The church, decorated with evergreen and apple blossoms, was filled to capacity for the wedding.  The couple traveled by train to California, enjoying a six-week honeymoon before returning to Ouray.  Their union would produce four children. 

After her marriage, Una continued to use her 5×7 camera and glass plate negatives, realizing that the quality of the glass plate negatives exceeded anything made with a simpler Kodak camera.  She mainly documented her children and their activities.  The Whinnerah’s lived in Ouray until 1930 when they moved to California for a few years.  They returned to Colorado when Richard was offered a job with the highway department.  In 1942 they retired to Rosemead, California.  Una Whinnerah died on June 22, 1957, in Los Angeles, CA.

In 1993, The Huntington Library in Pasadena, California acquired 347 5×7” glass plate negatives from the family of amateur historian, John B. Marshall, of Colorado.  The negatives were housed in a wooden box labelled: Rick Whinnerah, Rosemead, Calif.  The collection, attributed to Una Wheeler Whinnerah,  includes views of Ouray, as well as photographs of the Whinnerah children dating from 1898 to approximately 1912.  

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

A. E. Rinehart: Denver’s Popular Portrait Photographer

Blanche Wannemaker
A. E. Rinehart, photographer. Portrait of Blanche Wannemaker Webber, albumen silver print on cabinet card mount, ca. 1888. Golden History Museum & Park, City of Golden, Bathke Collection.

Alfred E. Rinehart found his niche as a portrait photographer at the start of his career and remained faithful to his craft for decades.  His work documents Denver’s eminent political figures and their families, along with the city’s ordinary citizens.

A. E. Rinehart was born in 1851 in Tippecanoe County, Indiana to John Byers Rinehart and Mary Cooly Rinehart.  His siblings included younger brother, Frank A. Rinehart, who would gain fame for his photographic portraits of Native Americans.

A. E. Rinehart learned photography from Charles C. Wright in Lafayette, Indiana.  Around 1875, Rinehart relocated to Denver, taking a position with George W. Kirkland.  Coincidentally, Wright moved to Denver in the 1880s, where he continued his photographic career.   Rinehart developed his skill as a portrait photographer while working as an operator in the studio of Charles Bohm in Denver.

On March 29, 1880, after five years with Bohm, Rinehart joined  William Henry Jackson, in the firm Jackson & Rinehart.  Jackson devoted his time to landscape photography while Rinehart took charge of portraiture.  They shared darkroom facilities and staff, with Frank A. Rinehart employed as a printer.  By early December, the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent.

Cabinet card
A. E. Rinehart, photographer. Baby Tabor [Lily], Age, 19 Months, February 1886, albumen silver print on cabinet card mount, ca. History Colorado-Denver, Colorado, 2000.129.110.
Rinehart remained at the 413 Larimer Street address through 1887.  He photographed Elizabeth Bonduel Lily Tabor, the first child of wealthy business man Horace Tabor and his second wife, Baby Doe, on multiple occasions.  The card mounts were atypically printed with “Baby Tabor” and the child’s age, a format the studio would continue with later sittings of the young girl.

Rinehart  married Denver socialite, Bessie Mode, on May 11, 1880.  She wore a wine colored bridal dress trimmed with silk of the same color.  After her marriage, Bessie Rinehart seemed to spend more time visiting friends and relatives in the East and South than she did in Denver.  The couple divorced in 1893.

Almost immediately after his divorce, Rinehart planned to marry Mrs. Dora Ellen Thorworth, unaware that a new law required divorcees to wait one year before remarrying.  On the day of his marriage, the county clerk’s office denied Rinehart’s application for a marriage license.  Rinehart returned to the Clerk’s office later that day with a judge.  With a wink and a nod, the marriage license was issued and the couple married that evening.  Dora Rinehart took up cycling, breaking several long-distance records.  In 1898, A. E. Rinehart secured a divorce on the grounds of desertion.

Rinehart’s business was much more successful than his love life.  In December 1887, he opened a new studio, the largest photography establishment in the city, on the upper floor of Wolfe Londoner’s grocery store on Arapahoe Street.  The January 1, 1888 issue of the Rocky Mountain News reported on the opening of the studio in great detail, describing the decor of the handsome reception room, the large skylights and the movable case holding backgrounds in the operating room, the printing room with storage for 40,000  negatives, and Rinehart’s private artist’s studio.  Rinehart presided over all portrait sessions.  Long-time employees John Lehman headed the printing room, Charles Nast oversaw retouching and  Mrs. Lehman framed portraits in the finishing room.

“Photographic: Brilliant and Successful Opening of the Magnificent New and Spacious Gallery of A. E. Rinehart.” Rocky Mountain News, January 1, 1888, page 2, column 1
Randolph Family
A. E. Rinehart, photographer. Portrait of Wellington and Emma Randolph with daughter Mathilda (Tillie), circa 1888, albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. History Colorado-Denver, Colorado, 2020.73.6

The Wellington Randolph family visited Rinehart’s new studio shortly after it opened.   Randolph (1848-1909) was born in Virginia and moved to Colorado in the 1880s.  He earned a living as a janitor.  Tillie was the first of eventually three children.

Another portrait made in the new studio shows Blanche Wannemaker Webber.  In posing Mrs.Webber, Rinehart chose to make a profile view from the back to show off the sitter’s long tresses.  This portrait was probably made soon after Miss Wannemaker’s marriage to Republican political figure Dewitt C. Webber.  After thirteen years of marriage, Mrs. Webber filed for divorce, claiming extreme cruelty, general unkindness and desertion.  The story does not end there, however, about a year after the divorce, Blanche’s father hired two men to kill his former son-in-law.  Mr. Webber learned of the plot and was able to avoid the purported killers.

In 1890, Rinehart claimed to have photographed between thirty and forty thousand Denverites.  He kept all of his negatives, so customers could request additional prints at a later date.  Early in his career, Rinehart thought it might be best to have customers purchase their negatives, as he believed many would never be used again, but that was not standard studio practice.

As early as December 1897, Rinehart placed a brief advertisement in Wilson’s Photographic Magazine, offering his studio for sale.  In June 1910, Rinehart placed another notice, this time more detailed, outlining the contents of his studio including Dalimeyer lenses, cameras up to size 20 x 24, and backgrounds painted by the prominent New York City artist, Lafayette W. Seavey.  Stating he planned to retire, the asking price was  $2,500.  Rinehart was sixty years old.

In 1912 Rinehart moved from his long-time studio on Arapahoe Street to a smaller space on Welton Street.  He died at St. Joseph’s Hospital on May 14, 1915 from complications associated with appendicitis.  He is buried at Denver’s Riverside Cemetery.

Ancestry.com. Colorado, Wills and Probate Records, 1875-1974 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data:Colorado County, District and Probate Courts.
An inventory of Rinehart’s studio was made after his death.  Once all his outstanding bills were accounted for and his studio contents sold, the estate was found to be insolvent. This is a sad ending to such a treasured Denver business, but the visual record of Denver personalities and residents lives on.

Inventory of the  A. E. Rinehart collection at the Denver Public Library.  

My thanks to History Colorado staff Jori Johnson and Cody Robinson, who always help make my onsite visits pleasurable and Viviana Guajardo, for her scanning expertise.   Additional thanks to Vanya Scott, Curatorial Assistant, Golden History Museum & Park, Golden, CO.  Special thanks to Beverly W. Brannan, recently retired photography curator at the Library of Congress, for editing this post.  






C. L. Gillingham: A Studio Photographer in Colorado Springs

Charles L. Gillingham was born on July 18, 1848, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Samuel Gillingham and Rebecca Ann Shur Gillingham.  The family moved to Fairfax County, Virginia a few years later.  By 1870, Gillingham was living in Leavenworth, Kansas working first as an insurance agent and later in sewing machine sales.  He married Delphina E. Hall in that city on March 8, 1871 . 

City Directory
Washington, District of Columbia, City Directory, 1876, page 244.

Gillingham must have been an established photographer when he relocated to Washington, D. C’s “photographer’s row” in 1876 and opened Gillingham’s Centennial Gallery of Artistic Photography on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Later listings in the DC city directories are smaller and he no longer provides a studio address.  In 1879, now in Newton, Kansas, Gillingham operated out of a photo car with a partner named Mr. Birney.  A fire in August 1880 completely destroyed his gallery and all of his glass negatives.  In less than a month, Gillingham resumed his trade in a new one story brick building.

Trade card
C. L. Gillingham’s trade card. History Colorado, Accession #1957.

In December 1880, Gillingham moved to Colorado Springs, taking a position with photographer, Thaddeus E. Hopkins, before opening his own business.  Photographers had to be flexible in the 19th century, always learning new photographic processes and using the latest card formats.  His trade card,, or what we would call a business card today, stated “First Class and Instantaneous work a specialty.”

Gillingham made stereo views of Colorado Springs’ street scenes, including the state-of-the-art Antlers Hotel.  He used the cabinet card format (4-1/2 x 6-1/2″) for studio portraits and the larger boudoir format (5-1/4 x 8-1/2″) for some landscape views.  During his time in Colorado Springs, he also published a souvenir viewbook entitled “Manitou and Vicinity.

C. L. Gillingham, Ute Pass, above Manitou. Old Indian Trail from Leadville. Albumen silver print on a boudoir card. History Colorado, Accession #95.200.38.

Child on hobby horse
C.. L. Gillingham, photographer. [Unidentified boy on hobby horse.] Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. Collection of the author.
Gillingham’s skill as a photographer is evident in his cabinet card portrait of a young boy on a hobby horse.  To keep the child engaged, the photographer choose an age-appropriate prop, rather than an ordinary chair.  Looking directly into the camera, the young boy’s feet rest in the stirrups, with one hand on the reins and the other on the horse’s mane.

In the summer of 1882, Mrs. Gillingham and her two young sons were camping at Manitou Springs when a big storm flooded the canon where the two boys were playing.  The boys climbed up to a small building near a lime kiln, and while the Harvey, older boy,  hung on to the buildings’ rafters, 6 year old Charley was tragically sweeping away. 

Gillingham worked as a photographer in Colorado Springs through 1890.   Gillingham died in 1914, leaving his wife and son Harvey. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.

Thank you to photography collector, Karen Hendrix, for her expertise in 19th century children’s fashion and Beverly Brannan for her editorial assistance.