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

William Henry Jackson, 1870, History Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 1880     Jackson & Rinehart, 413 Larimer St.                                                                                                   

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

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



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

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

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

Andrew McKirahan, photographer  (1882)

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

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

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

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



Author: 19thcenturycoloradophotographers_d5uooh

I am a former curator of photography at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC, now living in Colorado. I created this blog to share my research on 19th century Colorado photographers.