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.