James M. Goins, The First Black Photographer in Denver

James M. Goins was born circa 1850 in Ohio.  In 1869 he opened a photography gallery in Chicago, Illinois with J. G. Johnson.  Goins remained in Chicago for nearly a decade, offering cartes de visite and opal miniatures.  He also made enlargements from old and faded photographs and photographs colored on oil, India Ink, or watercolor.

In 1879, he moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, but he left that city owing money to creditors. In 1881, Goins continued the photographic trade in Denver,  remaining in town for only one year.  

Goins portrait
Goines, photographer. Portrait of an Unidentified Black man, 1888-1889. Photo courtesy of Museum of Modern Art.

By 1887 he had relocated his business to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he stayed for a few years.  For about a decade, Goins’ whereabouts are unknown. The 1900 Chicago city directory places him back in that city as a photographer.   In the 1920 federal census, Goins is listed as a patient in Chicago’s Oak Forest Institution, a home for poor and elderly citizens.  He likely remained in the Chicago area for the rest of his life.

If anyone has seen Goins’ work from Denver, please let me know.

William Cronyn’s Talented and Tragic Life

woman with guitar
Cronyn & Hibbs, Railway Photographers. Unidentified woman with a guitar, circa 1899.  Collection of the author.

Last fall I attended the annual Daguerreian Society meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.  I was on the lookout for photographs by Colorado photographers at the trade fair.  An image made by Cronyn & Hibbs of a woman with a guitar caught my attention.  I thought the name Cronyn was in my database, so  I hustled up to my hotel room to check.   (Note to self:  Always ask the dealer to hold the photograph, rather than assume the photo will still be available when you return.)

My database included a William Cronyn, but no one named Hibbs.  I liked the image and it provided information about Cronyn’s career trajectory, so I decided it would be a good purchase.  I returned to the dealer’s table and the Cronyn photograph was in another collector’s hands.   What should I do?  I hung around as the woman contemplated her purchases, and exhaled a sigh of relief when she placed the Cronyn & Hibbs photograph in her reject pile.  I immediately picked it up and asked the collector if she was sure she was willing to let this one go.  We had a good chuckle about my predicament.

Cronyn’s biography is confusing.  Canadian census data suggests that William Cronyn was born around 1850 in Ontario, Canada to David Cronyn and Anna Hawthorne Cronyn, but other records state his birthplace as New York.  His personal life was messy.  He married at least four times.  Perhaps because of this, he moved frequently and his professional life showed plenty of challenges.

By 1879, William Cronyn lived in New York City.   The 1880 census lists his occupation as a photographer and his wife’s name as Josephine.   A year later, in March 1881, Cronyn married Etta Wright, in Omaha, Nebraska.  They would remain married until the early 1890s.  In the mid-1880s Cronyn was employed in the Pittsburgh area as an artist.  Later in the decade, he opened a studio in Omaha, but ownership of the gallery ended up in court.  Cronyn moved out of the gallery, taking all the apparatus and furniture, leaving broken negatives on the gallery floor.

Cronyn cabinet portrait
Cronyn, photographer. Charles O. Unfug, mayor of Walsenburg, CO in 1887 and 1891. History Colorado, Accession #92.94.13

In November 1887, Cronyn arrived in Pueblo, Colorado. The Colorado Daily Chieftain reported that Cronyn had “spent thirteen years…in the operating rooms of [Napoleon] Sarony’s famous photograph gallery in New York City.”  Likely this is an exaggeration, as there is no record that Cronyn spent that length of time in New York.  

He seemed to hit his stride in Pueblo.  His wife assisted with studio sittings and ran the business when Cronyn traveled.   She was also a talented artist, producing “point crayon”  portraits.  The point crayon portrait was executed by hand using only the point of the crayon, rather than the standard crayon portrait where shadows were created by rubbing the medium into the paper.  

child by Cronyn
Cronyn, photographer. Portrait of Helen Virginia Gibson, between 1887 and 1891.  Poughkeepsie Public Library District, I-G07.

Cronyn claimed his studio had the largest skylight in Colorado, enabling him to make portraits even on cloudy days.  The skylight aided him with his specialty for fancy lighting.  He won first premium and a diploma for best photographic collection at the 1888 Colorado State Fair, held in Pueblo. Locally, his work could be seen in the windows of Pueblo’s Wick’s Shoe store.

Early on the morning of August 1, 1890, a newspaper carrier noticed a fire in Cronyn’s studio.  An electric light left burning all night had ignited studio scenery.  The firefighters saved the building but losses included the skylight, valuable backgrounds and studio apparatus valued at almost $2,500.  The losses were fully covered by insurance and the studio was repaired quickly.

Less than a year later, another fire broke out in the back of the Cronyn studio, probably caused by the explosion of an oil stove.  The studio suffered smoke damage and a few panes of the skylight broke.  A week later Cronyn put the studio up for sale, including his cameras, chemicals, furniture, books and other supplies.  Lydia McCloskey purchased the studio.  Cronyn remained in Pueblo, working for photographer, Wesley S. Howard.

By late May 1891, E. E. Powers took over Cronyn’s former studio from McCloskey, with the operating room under the direction of Cronyn.  The press referred to the business as the “Cronyn gallery.”  Meanwhile, Mrs. Cronyn moved to Denver with their baby for her health.  Cronyn joined his wife briefly in Denver, but news reports cited his interest in moving to Los Angeles, California or Missouri.

In June 1892, Cronyn secured a position with W. H. Caman in Wellington, Kansas, leaving his wife in Denver.  A year later, Cronyn was on the road again.  In 1896, he acquired a photo railroad car which he operated in North Dakota with someone named McGlachlin.

Cronyn’s third marriage took place in September 1898 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Helen Gould, a young woman thirty years his junior.   They divorced less than two years later due to Cronyn’s affection for another woman.

Cronyn & Hibbs, photographers. Unidentified man and woman, circa 1899. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Donated by Don L. Durrah and D. Simone Durrah Logan in memory of Hattie J. Durr Whiddon Graham (1873-1950); Christopher Columbus Wayman Whiddon (1894-1973); Lina Irene Jordan Whiddon (1897-1983)

In 1899, Cronyn operated a rail car in Minnesota with a partner named Hibbs.  On July 5, 1900, misfortune struck Cronyn’s photo car.  His assistant, who lived in the car, came home from a dance and accidentally tipped over a lamp, quickly igniting the entire car.  The fire destroyed the car and all of its contents, valued at $6,000.  Cronyn held only $2,000 insurance.

The 1900 federal census adds confusion to Cronyn’s biography.  The census places Cronyn in Aiken, Minnesota, married to Margaret “Maggie” Whitney, also a photographer.  The census data states that they have been married for 10 years.  If anyone can document William Cronyn’s life after the railcar fire, please let me know!

Thanks to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography at the Library of Congress for editing this post.  Jori Johnson, Collections Access Coordinator and  Keegan Martin, Digital Imaging Technician, History Colorado also provided assistance.  

Denver Photographer J. C. Swan

To celebrate Black History Month, this post is illustrated with a portrait of an unidentified Black woman made in a Denver studio by White photographer, J. C. Swan.  Only a few Black photographers worked in Colorado, and information about them is very limited.  An earlier post discussed one of them,  John Green.  As a follow-up to that post, Green’s best-known photograph, a portrait of Black cowboy, Isam Dart, is held by the Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig.

Justus Crandall “J. C.” Swan was born in 1849 to Samuel Prentice Swan and Calista Elnora Crandall Swan in Lincklaen, New York. Justus was the oldest of four children. Samuel Swan worked as a wagon maker. According to the 1870 federal census, the family lived on a farm in Frederick County, Virginia.   In 1871,  Justus settled in Missouri. On January 20, 1875, he married Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ann Goodman-Bateman in Nevada, Missouri.

The earliest mention of Swan’s photographic career appears in an advertisement in the January 13, 1876, Nevada Ledger (Nevada, MO) for his studio over Roberts & Tyler’s hardware store. In 1877, the Swans moved to Delavan, Illinois, where J. C. Swan was the senior partner in the firm of Swan & Maltby. Mrs. Swan worked as a milliner. The couple’s first child, Justine, was born in Delavan.

The Swan family is not listed in the 1880 federal census and J. C. Swan is not mentioned in the press until they moved back to Missouri in the spring of 1886. At that time, his stereoviews of Zodiac Springs (Vernon County, MO), made under the firm name Swan & Taylor were praised by the press. A month later the firm purchased the interests of  J. H. Harter’s Nevada, MO studio in the Norman Building at West Side Square. In Nevada, Swan photographed local events, including a Republican rally held in September 1888 and the local artesian well. Swan remained in Nevada through 1892.

He traveled to Texas, spending several months looking for job opportunities. The family moved to the Austin area in December 1892. By 1896 he operated a photocopying service in Shepherd, Texas.

J. C. Swan photo
Justus C. Swan, photographer. Full-length portrait of an unidentified woman, circa 1897. Silver and photographic gelatin on cabinet card mount. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of JoAnn Oxley Foster.

In 1897, the Swan’s changed their residence once again, now traveling north to Denver, Colorado where he promoted himself as a portrait and landscape photographer. He stayed in the city for eight years, working mainly as a photographer, but Denver city directories list him as a carpenter in 1901 and 1903. In April 1905 the Swan’s settled in Nucla, a small, secluded town in Colorado’s southwest mountains. He continued his photographic work, while his wife ran a hotel. Justus C. Swan died on May 3, 1928, at 78 years old. He is buried at Nucla Cemetery.

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

A. E. Lickman’s Short Career in Denver

A couple of interesting photographs inspired this post.  I had never heard of A. E. Lickman, but the two photographs shown below made me wonder who he was and the extent of his work.

Albert E. Lickman (1864-1945) arrived in New York City in 1887, crossing the Atlantic from Liverpool, England on the Steam Ship Egypt.  The Egypt made its maiden voyage between Liverpool and NYC on November 10, 1871.  The large ship could carry 120 first-class passengers and 1, 410 in steerage.     Cabin fares started at $35 a person.  The Egypt sailed until 1890 when it was consumed by fire at sea.  No lives were lost.

2 children
A. E. Lickman & Co., photographers. Cabinet card of two children. Albumen silver print, circa 1890. Autry Museum; 94.33.2.

Talented photographer, Albert E. Lickman, arrived in Denver by November 1889, opening The Berkeley Lake Tintype Gallery  at 17th and Arapahoe Streets.  His Denver career was very short.  By 1892, Lickman had relocated to the Bronx, New York, where he continued his photographic career.

By  1905, Lickman lived in Baltimore, Maryland.  The following year, he received a patent for a toothpick.  A couple of years later he resided in Indianapolis, Indiana, working as a travel agent.  He spent the latter years of his life in Chicago.


Theater at Elitch Garden
A. E. Lickman & Co., photographers. Elitch’s Theater, [Denver, CO], circa 1890, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.
Thank you to Marilyn Van Winkle, Rights and Reproductions Coordinator, Autry Museum of the American West for assistance with permissions.


Photographers in Routt County, Colorado

This blog post presents a chronological listing of photographers who had studios in Routt  County in the 19th century.  (In 1911, the western portion of Routt County split off to form Moffat County.) More detailed posts for some of these photographers are available on the blog.

Routt and Moffat Counties are located in the northwest corner of Colorado, best known for the Steamboat Springs ski resort.   Even today, the counties are a bit off the beaten path, located about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Denver, even longer in snowy weather.

In the 1890s, the population fluctuated between 2,500 and 3,600 people, compared with about 25,000 today.  A few locals set up studios in Craig and Steamboat, but most ceased operation after a few years.  Given the scarcity of residents in the 19th century, traveling photographers provided an incentive for locals to have their portraits made.  Some photographers, like George McDonald, had mounts printed especially for their stay.  Others likely used mounts from their home base, making it difficult to determine if the photographs were made in Colorado or if the people traveled to other states to have their portraits made.

1892                                                                                                                           Luke & Haskinson, a partnership of Wellington O. Luke and an unknown person named Haskinson, active in Craig, CO.


Amos Snuffin Bennet lived in Axial, Colorado, a now-extinct town in Moffat County.  He specialized in making photographs of wild game, landscapes and portraits.  Bennet often served as a guide to hunters and fishermen visiting the area, photographically documenting their adventures.


Mary Augusta and Allen Grant Wallihan, were the most prominent photographers of the area.  They produced two compilations of  wildlife photographs, Hoofs, Claws and Antlers of the Rocky Mountains (1894) and Camera Shots at Big Game (1901), both with introductions by Theodore Roosevelt.  The Wallihan’s photographs were exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition and in 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.


Man in bed
G. W. McDonald, photographer. Unidentified man in bed. Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2012.004.31

George Willis McDonald (b.c.1862-1911)  was born in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada around 1862.  In 1890, he began his photographic career in Denver, Colorado with a studio at 1206 Larimer Street.  In 1893, he ran a branch studio in Georgetown, Colorado and in July 1894, he worked in Steamboat Springs.  McDonald maintained a photo studio in Denver until his death in November 1911.

Mrs. Ada Edgar Wither (b. 1870?)                       Ada Edgar married Peter Richie Wither at Hahn’s Peak on November 15, 1890.  They lived in Steamboat Springs through 1894.  Ada worked as a photographer in Steamboat.  By 1895 the couple lived in Denver.  The couple divorced by 1900.  On February 7, 1900, Ada married Lewis C. Davis in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  They lived in Erie Colorado.


Two people on bicycles
W. J. Johnston, photographer. Portrait of Hugh McKenna (1869-1930) and wife, 1890s.  Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2015.005.305.

William James Johnston was born in January 1857 in Portsmouth, Ontario. As a young man, he moved to Wyoming, settling in Green River as a photographer.  He partnered with Charles Baker, as Baker & Johnston in Evanston, WY.  Johnston worked as a photographer in Wyoming throughout the 1890s.  He traveled to Meeker, Craig and Hayden, Colorado in 1895.    

In 1904, Johnston patented the Cirkit panoramic camera.  The camera rotates on a tripod and can capture a 360-degree view, excelling in recording group portraits and city views.  He sold his rights to the camera, with the exception of the Canadian rights, before moving home to Ontario.  He founded the Panoramic Camera Company of Canada.  He opened a photo studio on Ontario’s Victoria Street and specialized in panoramic photography.  He remained in Toronto until the early 1920s when he relocated to California to pursue mining interests.  Before the end of the decade, Johnston was back in Ontario.  He retired from photography in 1930.  He died in October 1941. He is buried at St. John’s Norway Cemetery in Ontario.


Aaron August Brown, photographer. Hinman Children: clockwise starting at top: Mary Alve Retta, Hattie Georgia, Leone, Edward, Abbie, and Helen. Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2012.004.617.

Aaron August Brown                                               Aaron August Tägtström was born in Sweden on July 1, 1860.  In 1887 he immigrated to the United States and changed his surname to Brown.  Having learned photography in Sweden, Brown set up a studio in Rawlins, Wyoming, one hundred miles north of Craig, Colorado.  Brown traveled to Craig in July 1895, to spend a few days making portraits.  A year later he returned to Craig for ten days, with J. Ernest Ralston as his assistant.  He promised to complete all his orders before they moved on to Hayden and Steamboat Springs.  In 1900, Brown was granted a patent for a bicycle with a motor driven by compressed air.  In 1902, Brown moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he continued to work as a photographer.  The last twenty years of his life were spent in the chiropractic trade.  On September 20, 1929, Aaron August Brown died in San Diego, California.  His remains lie at San Diego’s Greenwood Memorial Park.  


Ninion H. Conley was born on December 14, 1857, in Minnesota.   Conley was based in Primghar, Iowa.  He traveled through northwest Colorado with his tent gallery in 1896, visiting Meeker, Craig and Steamboat.  Two years later, he set up his tent gallery in Osceola and Ely, Nevada.  He returned to Primghar, Iowa where he died on March 13, 1902.  

John Ernest Ralston was born in Indiana.  He worked as a photographer in Iowa before coming to Craig, Colorado in 1896 to assist photographer Aaron A. Brown.  Ralston worked briefly in Boise, Idaho, before settling in Seattle, Washington for the majority of his career.  Between 1904 and 1906, Ralston worked in the studio of Edward S. Curtis, the well-known photographer of Native Americans.  Ralston was an active member of the Photographers’ Association of the Pacific Northwest.  Ralston worked in Seattle until the mid-1940s when he retired from photography.  John Ernest Ralston died on August 7, 1949 in Seattle and was buried in the city’s Forest Lawn Cemetery.

1896-1904                                                                                                               Dan Diamond moved to Craig, Colorado in 1896, where his mother and two brothers resided.  Craig operated a gallery from his home and also set up a photo car for his travels, working in Craig and Steamboat.


Herbert Lincoln States was born on February 16, 1869 in Michigan to George William States and Harriet T. Lincoln States.  In the 1880s, the family moved to Delta, Colorado.  H. L. States married Hattie Almira Castle on November 26, 1887.  By 1894, States operated a photography studio from a tent in Delta.  He accepted grain, butter and eggs for payment.  In October 1895, Frank L. Bishop took over gallery duties.  In 1897, H. L. States settled in New Castle, Colorado.  Later that year, he photographed the aftermath of Colorado’s worst railroad wreck to date, when a Rio Grande passenger train crashed head-on with a special Colorado Midland stock train.  He spent summers at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, before moving there year-round in 1899.

By 1901, States had left Colorado.  He pursued photography in Provo, Utah, Council, Idaho, Cambridge, Idaho, and Toledo, Oregon.  Herbert L. States died on April 24, 1926 in Cambridge, Idaho.

Herbert Lincoln States, photographer. Steamboat Springs, circa 1899. Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2014.098.009.


Thomas E. Barnhouse (1831-1911), a prolific photographer based in Grand Junction, Colorado set up his tent gallery in Steamboat in August 1899.  Barnhouse, a Civil War veteran, had a long career as a photographer.  His life will be profiled in a future blog post.


Group of women
Ed Rodstrom, photographer. Group of women including Cassie Finley (bottom left corner) and Cullie Melugin (bottom right corner) Museum of Northwest Colorado, 2016.091.002.

Carl Edward “Ed” Rodstrom was born on March 3, 1875 in Hobart, Indiana to Swedish immigrants Ingel Rådström and Anna Christine Davidson Rådström.  Around 1880, the family moved to a farm in Prairie, Nebraska.

Ed Rodstrom learned photography in Holdrege, Nebraska.  He would pursue a life-long career in photography traveling through Nebraska, northern Colorado, and Kansas, before settling in Dallas, Texas.  Rodstrom died on February 9, 1970 in Dallas.  His older sister Lydia ran a photo studio in Omaha, Nebraska for many years.


Thank you to Daniel Davidson, Director, Museum of Northwest Colorado, for extensive research assistance and Naylen Wheat, Office Manager/Registrar, for providing the scans,





Four Female Photo Retouchers in 19th Century Denver

Photo studios hired artists to retouch or “improve” negatives before making prints, often hiring women for these positions.   As the stories below illustrate, the field attracted young, single women and widows in need of employment.  The work could be done at the studio or in the retoucher’s home.

Retouchers used a variety of lead pencils, a magnifying glass and varnish to eliminate wrinkles or freckles from sitter’s faces.  Hands, hair and drapery may also benefit from retouching. In-depth manuals on retouching were published.  In 1900, retouchers earned anywhere from 20 cents to $1 per negative.

Mrs. Wybro
J. O. Roorback, artist. [Portrait of Lottie Wybro, albumen silver print of cdv mount. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kyleshistory/23364113643/.
Charlotte “Lottie” Wybro. Charlotte Fran “Lottie” Comer was born in New York State in 1844.  At seventeen, she married Jesse Wybro, who was described on their marriage license as “partly Indian.”  They wed at Gravesvillle, Wisconsin.  The Wybros lived in Wisconsin through 1875, raising two children.  A third child was born in Missouri.   Shortly afterward the family relocated to Kansas City, KS and then Russell, Kansas in 1877.

Jesse Wybro died the following year, leaving his wife with three young children to raise.  The local paper reported that the eldest child, Harry, who was twelve years old, would attend to his father’s business.  The 1880 census lists Harry at age fourteen, employed as a clerk in a store.

The Russell Record (Russell, KS, August 9, 1877) reported on Mrs. Wybro’s artistic skills, mentioning a painting of Yosemite Falls and a Swiss homestead.  Local businesses often exhibited her oil paintings.

In 1884 the Wybros moved to Denver.  Lottie worked as a retoucher and later an artist in Denver.  The Denver city directory did not note which photo studio she worked with.  By 1900, the family relocated to California where Charlotte’s daughter, Jessie attended the University of California.  Jessie became a respected high school educator, praised for her skill in teaching Spanish and Greek.

Lottie Wybro died at her home in Glendale, California on October 8, 1914 at the age of seventy.  Her remains lie at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, CA.

Zipporah Harlan                                                                                                                Zipporah Harlan was born in Preble County, Ohio on December 11, 1853.  She ran a corset business in Dayton, Ohio in the late 1870s.  The 1883 Dayton City Directory lists Zipporah as a retoucher.  In 1884, Zipporah relocated to Denver, Colorado where she worked as a retoucher for Bates & Webb (William L. Bates and John. T. Webb).   She may have moved out of the city for a few years, as she doesn’t appear in the Denver city directories again until 1889 when her occupation is listed as a stenographer, a job she held through 1891.  Details about her life after that date are undocumented.

Metta Jane Trousdale.                                                                                                           Metta Jane Trousdale (also spelled Truesdale) was born on December 19, 1865 in Juda, Wisconsin to Dr. James Lowry Trousdale and Harriet Emma Gray Trousdale.  After Dr. Trousdale’s death in 1874, Harriet married Claus Buenz.  In 1880, the family resided in Park County, Colorado.  

In 1890, Metta Jane Truesdale began work as a photographic retoucher in St. Paul, Minnesota, for Frank Jay Haynes, best known for his photographs of Yellowstone.  The following year she relocated to Denver, Colorado, and obtained employment with the photographic firm of Rose & Company.  She remained at the firm until 1893 when she married Truman D. Ross.  Ross made his living as a debt collector in Denver.  After his death, Metta moved to Exeter, New Hampshire to live with her daughter’s family.  She died on January 26, 1953, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Metta Jane Ross was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery on Martha’s Vineyard.  

Georgia “Georgie” Stover                                                                                         Georgia M. Stover was born in October 1871 in Ironton, Ohio, a town on the Ohio River in the southernmost part of the state.  Her father, Richard, worked as a pattern maker and her mother, Ella, was a housekeeper.

The Stover family moved to Denver around 1888, where Richard found employment at a foundry and machine shop.  In 1891, Denver photographer, Dana B. Chase hired Georgia as a retoucher.  She left his employ in 1898, to work for his ex-wife, the photographer B. B. Chase.  On November 30, 1900, less than five weeks after her mother’s death, Georgia Stover died at the age of twenty-nine.  She is buried in Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery.

Thank you to Beverly Brannan, former photo curator, Library of Congress and Erin Waters (finedags.com) for proof-reading this post.





Dan Diamond in Craig, Colorado

Born in Huron, Ontario, Canada, Dan Diamond worked as a cabinetmaker in
Chicago before learning photography. Chicago’s cold weather, combined with the dusty conditions of a woodworking shop, irritated Diamond’s lungs. This condition would plague him for the rest of his life.
Diamond returned to Ontario, studied photography, and set up a studio in
Pocatello, Idaho in the 1890s. In 1896, he moved to Craig, Colorado, where his mother and two brothers resided. Craig operated a gallery from his home and also set up a photo car for his travels.
Saw Mill
Dan Diamond, photographer. McLachlan Lumber Mill – c. 1896. Photo courtesy of Museum of Northwest Colorado, 1990.021.1.  Archie McLachlan opened his mill 25 miles north of Craig in the early 1890s,  operating it until 1907.  The mill supplied much of the lumber used to build Craig’s early structures.
One afternoon, Diamond and his friend, Amos Bennet, another Craig
photographer, bicycled twenty-two miles north of town to Fortification Rocks, to take photographs of a rhumba of rattlesnakes. They managed to lure nineteen of the snakes into their lunch box and brought their captives back to Craig for a public display.
Saddle card
Dan Diamond, photographer. Fred Ross Saddle Card, 1898.  Fred Ross, a German immigrant, operated a saddle shop in Craig.  He hired Diamond to produce promotional cards for his business. Museum of Northwest Colorado, Craig, Colorado, 1992.019.3.
In the spring of 1898, Diamond set out in his photo car for Baggs and Dixon, Wyoming.  That summer, Dan and his brother traveled to Steamboat and Hayden, Colorado.  

To treat his tuberculosis, Diamond went to Denver during the fall of 1898 for the Murphy treatment. The results were disappointing. He found some relief in warmer climates, and for the rest of his life would spend considerable time in Arizona and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
                                                                          In August 1901, Diamond was back in Craig working as a photographer.
His photographs of Arizona were included in a stereopticon show alongside work by Amos Bennet and Clyde and Art Seymour.
                                                                                                                                                            In late November 1904, declining health forced Diamond to sell all of his camera equipment.  Dan Diamond died at his home in Craig on April 22, 1905.  He is buried in the Craig Cemetery.

Thank you to Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress for proofreading.   Daniel Davidson, Director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, shared his research notes on Dan Diamond with me and Neylan Wheat, Museum of Northwest Colorado provided the scans.

Elmer E. Pascoe in Creede, Colorado

Elmer E. Pascoe was born on November 3, 1861, in Indianapolis, Indiana to British immigrant, James Pascoe and Pennsylvania native Louisa Synder Pascoe.  James worked as a boilermaker for the railroad.  Elmer attended public schools in Indianapolis and graduated from high school. 

In 1879, Elmer moved south to New Orleans, accepting a position in the wholesale dry goods business.  A couple of years later, Pascoe traveled west to Colorado, working retail positions in several cities before settling in Denver at the photographic studio of George Stephan.  Pascoe excelled in the field and took responsibility for Stephan’s studio during the latter’s out-of-state move.  In 1891, Pascoe relocated to the silver mining community of Creed, Colorado.  His photographs document the town and local events, including a group gathered for the burial of outlaw, Bob Ford.  

Creede storefront
Elmer E. Pascoe, photographer. Creede, Colorado, 1891, albumen silver print. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

On June 8, 1892, Creede’s Deputy Sheriff Edward O’Kelley shot and killed Bob Ford, the man responsible for killing outlaw, Jesse James.  Ford had opened a dance hall, called Ford’s Exchange on May 29th, 1892.  Six days later, a fire swept through Creede, and the dance hall burned to the ground.  Pascoe’s photo shows a temporary tent erected on the site.  The shooting, two days after the fire, was prompted by a  quarrel several months earlier between O’Kelley and Ford.

Elmer E. Pascoe, photographer. Death of Bob Ford, June 1892, albumen silver print. Courtesy of Bonhams.

By his mid-thirties, Pascoe abandoned photography, took up permanent residence in Phoenix, Arizona, and worked in real estate and the insurance business.  Elmer E. Pascoe died in Los Angeles County on January 6, 1932, at the age of seventy.  He was laid to rest in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Thank you to Beverly W. Brannan for proofreading this post.



Amos Bennet, “The Snake King of Colorado”

Amos Snuffin Bennet was born on December 20, 1869 in Omaha, Nebraska to Elisha Bennett III and Esther Ann Snuffin Bennett.  The family moved to Arapaho County in Colorado Territory a few months after his birth.  By 1892, Amos Bennet lived in Axial, Colorado, a town that no longer exists in Moffat County.  Like his peers, A. G. Wallihan and his wife, Mary Augusta Wallihan, Bennet specialized in making photographs of wild game, landscapes and portraits.  Bennet often served as a guide to hunters and fishermen visiting the area, photographically documenting their adventures.  His  work won second prize in a contest offered by Forest and Stream magazine.  

Amos S. Bennet, photographer. “Wild Game Photos taken expressly for Overman Wheel Co., Denver, 1890s.  History Colorado. Accession #92.11.20.

Bennet excelled as an athlete, riding his bicycle nearly 200 miles over the mountains from Denver to Axial, an early instance of mountain biking.  He wrote an essay about his journey for the August 1893 issue of Sports Afield.  He often took his camera and his rifle along on local rides.  One day while out photographing elk, he later shot an antelope with his rifle.  He slung the more than 200 pound beast over his shoulder, and then rode seven miles back home on his bicycle.  

On another occasion, Bennet crawled on his hands and knees to sneak up on a herd of antelope with his camera.  Bennet reported in Cycling West that “I had crawled about half the distance necessary when suddenly I dimly perceived something gliding right out from under my hand seemingly, and the next instant heard the sharp whir-r-r of a rattlesnake. It is needless to say I stopped right there! When I got my eyes mopped out and could see plainly I was glad I did. To my startled vision the ground ahead of me seemed alive with the reptiles. The whole prairie was one writhing, twisting mass and the air was vibrating like a buzz saw with the alarum of their tails.”  He used his Kodak to courageously capture images of the snakes.  

During the summer of 1897, snake charmer, Harry Davis, hired Bennet to provide rattlesnakes for a Denver display during the festival of Mountain and Plain.  Bennet captured twenty snakes at Fortification Rocks, a location north of Craig, known for its substantial snake population.  Bennet used a five-foot long pole to handle the snakes but Davis wrestled the snakes with his hands, receiving a non-lethal bit on his finger.

On September 28, 1898, Bennet married Alice Belle Caster.  On their wedding trip, the couple visited Meeker and Denver, Colorado.  There is no further mention of Bennet’s photography in the local press.  After his marriage, he worked as an engineer and carpenter.  In 1903, the Bennet’s departed Colorado for points west, settling in Klamath Falls Oregon in 1909.  Two years later, Amos S. Bennet died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the young age of 41.  He left his wife and two young children.  


Thank you to Keegan Martin, Digital Imaging Assistant, History Colorado for providing the scan and Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress for proof-reading.  


Charles E. Emery: A Fifty Year Career in Photography

Charles Eckland  was born on December 3, 1859 in Sweden.  He arrived in the United States as a young boy.  After the death of his father, Charles was adopted by Ard Godfrey Emery, a Michigan photographer.  Charles Emery attended schools in Michigan and Illinois.  He started working in his adopted father’s studio by the age of sixteen. 

At age twenty, Charles Emery arrived in Silver Cliff, Colorado with a solid background in photography.  He opened a studio on the corner of Main and Mill Streets,  beginning a distinguished photography career that would span more than five decades in multiple cities and encompass a wide range of photographic processes.

By 1880, Silver Cliff had become the third largest city in the state due to its silver mines.  Soon after Emery’s arrival, smoke from a forest fire in a nearby gulch looked like snow on top of the mountains.  The scene so captivated the city’s population that they closed stores and offices in order to view the sight.  Emery made stereoviews of the mountain scene, which he later sold by the hundreds for fifty cents apiece.  This brought his work to national attention.  He immediately submitted one stereoview to the U. S. Copyright Office housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Chas. E. Emery, photographer. A Sublime Picture, copyright, June 8, 1880, albumen silver print. Library of Congress. LC-DIG-stereo-1s11428.

Not content with limiting himself to studio portraits, Emery traveled to many locations around Colorado, including Garden of the Gods, Manitou and Pike’s Peak, Glen Eyrie, Denver, Clear Creek Canon, Ute Pass and Rainbow Falls, Grand Canon of the Arkansas, the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristo Range, producing stereoviews and landscape views printed on boudoir cards.  (Boudoir cards are prints slightly larger than cabinet cards.) He offered the views for sale at his gallery and through a catalog which is no longer extant.  

Girl with cat
Chas. E. Emery, photographer. Unidentified girl with cat, between 1885 and 1892, History Colorado, accession # 98.33.13.

On June 11, 1884, Emery married Bertha Alba Francis.  Bertha’s brother, Gowen D. Francis,  worked as Emery’s assistant. Bertha was a notable musician who  played the organ for services at the local Methodist Episcopal church.  After the wedding, the couple traveled by train to Manitou and Denver, and then to Kansas to visit Emery’s parents.  Charles and Bertha would have seven children, only five living into adulthood.  

In 1885, Emery moved his studio to Canon City, Colorado, but made monthly visits to Westcliffe, just west of Silver Cliff, to make studio portraits.  Emery photographed prisoners in the original State Penitentiary located in Canon City, including images of  prisoners in the chapel and a prisoner posed seated at a desk in the warden’s office.

Warden's office
Chas. E. Emery, photographer. Warden’s Office, State Penitentiary, albumen silver print on boudoir mount, 1885-1892. Courtesy of Museum of Northwest Colorado, Craig, CO.

In 1892, Emery purchased the photographic studio of D. B. Chase in Colorado Springs.  He worked in the Springs for nearly forty years.  At this studio, he specialized in portrait photography, often making class portraits for Colorado College. On request, Emery made portraits in people’s homes.  He also sold Kodak cameras and photographic supplies for amateur photographers.  

Exterior of Studio
Exterior of Chas. E. Emery’s new studio, corner of Kiowa and Cascade avenues, Colorado Springs. Notice the large skylight in the middle of the building, circa 1901. Charles W. and Bertha Francis Emery Family Collection, ch134pdm.jpg, Colorado College Special Collections.

Emery attended  the 1898 convention of the National Photographers Association of America, held at Chatauqua Lake, N. Y.  The meeting provided an opportunity for him to learn new skills and see new equipment that might benefit his studio.  Whenever in the East, he would also visit the leading studios to see their operations first-hand, to acquire ideas for his business.  In 1901, Emery opened a studio custom designed for his needs, at the corner of Cascade and Kiowa Streets and ordered new studio backgrounds painted by a famous New York artist.  

exterior of studio
Interior of Chas. E. Emery’s new studio, corner of Kiowa and Cascade avenues, Colorado Springs. Skylight on left side  with posing chair in from of painted backdrop. Notice the variety of posing chairs in the studio, circa 1901. Charles W. and Bertha Francis Emery Family Collection, ch134pbm.jpg, Colorado College Special Collections.

Emery exhibited about a dozen photographs in San Francisco at the 1903 Photographers’ Association of California. The following year he attended the National Photographers Association in Kansas City, and while there, visited the Worlds’ Fair.

In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt participated in a hunting trip in Garfield County, Colorado.  P. B. Stewart, an amateur photographer from Colorado Springs, accompanied the trip and made Kodak views.  Emery processed the negatives and photographs an produced a personal album, made especially for President Roosevelt.  The album is now held by Harvard University. 

Unidentified man
Chas. E. Emery, photographer. Unidentified man holding a newspaper, 1901 or later. History Colorado, accession #2010.62.3.

Emery’s work was included in the “Temple of Childhood”exhibition held in conjunction with the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition held in San Francisco in 1915. Another acknowledgment of his success came with his inclusion in “Who’s Who in Professional Portraiture in America,” published in 1927.  The volume contained biographies of three hundred American photographers, including Arnold Genthe and Pirie McDonald.

The Emery family suffered a tragic loss in August 1929.  They were staying at their cottage outside Colorado Springs when heavy rain caused a dam to burst above the camp.  Charles and his wife, Bertha, ran to the neighboring cottages to alert their friends to seek higher ground.  Bertha was swept away by the flood waters and drowned.  Charles never recovered from his wife’s death.  On September 1, 1932, three years after her death, Charles was found dead in his garage from carbon monoxide poisoning.  The Emerys were buried side-by-side in Colorado Springs’ Evergreen Cemetery.  

Thank you to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography at the Library of Congress for editing this post.  Daniel Davidson, Director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado brought Emery’s photographs of prisoners to my attention. Keegan Martin, Digital Imagining Technician, History Colorado and  Neylan Wheat, Museum of Northwest Colorado provided scans.  Jessy Randall, Curator and Archivist, Special Collections, Tutt Library, Colorado College granted permission to use photographs from the collection.