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.



Wellington O. Luke: From Pennsylvania to Colorado and Back Again

Wellington O. Luke was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania on February 9, 1847.  He married Nancy “Nellie” E. Russell on September 7, 1869.  In the early 1870s, he operated a photography studio in Meshoppen, Pennsylvania.  In 1874, the Luke family moved to Colorado Springs.  He partnered with another Pennsylvanian, possibly his brother-in law, Bentley B. Russell.  They specialized in scenic stereoviews.  After his young wife’s death of  consumption in 1874 and his brother-in-law’s passing a few months later, W. O. Luke departed Colorado and set up a photo studio in Abilene, Kansas.  

W. O. Luke, photographer. [Ravine, Rocky Mountains]; 1870s; Albumen silver print; Getty Museum collection.
In Abilene, Luke managed a portrait studio and occasionally took his outfit on the road to neighboring communities.  In 186, he married Laura V. Chronister.  In 1879, Luke moved his studio into Putnam’s new block, outfitting his rooms with new furniture and backdrops.  However, a few months later, the Luke family, encouraged by Leadville, Colorado’s silver boom, moved west where Luke would continue his photo business.   

stereo prospectors
Luke & Wheeler, photographers. {Prospectors], 1879-1881. Albumen silver stereoview. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

In July 1879, Luke worked together with Danforth N. Wheeler as Luke & Wheeler, producing cabinet cards and stereoviews.  Their work included scenic views and local events, including former president U. S. Grant’s 1880 visit to Leadville, the hanging of two men, showing a large crowd of spectators, street scenes of Leadville, and miners and mining operations.  Luke and Wheeler maintained their partnership until December 1881.  

W. O. Luke, photographer. Flume for hydraulic mining near Leadville, Colo., between 1879-1892,  albumen silver print. Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Z-14166.

In 1888, Luke and one of Colorado’s earliest photographers, Frank W. Grove, joined forces as Grove & Luke.  Their studio resided at 425 Harrison Street.

Luke worked in Leadville for more than twelve years.  Virginia Luke filed for divorce in November 1894, alleging non-support.  After their divorce, Luke left Leadville for New Castle, Colorado and later Arizona, where it has been reported that he made identification cards for Chinese people living in the U. S., as required by the Geary Act.  After a brief time in Auburn, California, Luke returned to Pennsylvania.  He spent the remainder of his photographic career in Wilkes-Barre, calling his business the San Francisco Studio.  Located in the Weitzenkorn building on Main Street, it was the only photo studio in the city with an elevator.  

Wellington O. Luke suffered a stroke and died on January 8, 1907. 

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

Charles Henry Clark in Salida

A native of Oxford County, Maine, Charles Henry Clark’s parents Thomas Green Clark and Martha Bumpus Clark worked as farmers.  Born in October 1847, Charles Clark was the youngest of five children.  By 1860, the Clark family had settled in Eagle, Illinois.  In June 1864, C.H. Clark mustered into the 138th Illinois Infantry, Company I, serving 100 days on garrison duty at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

After the war, Clark worked as an artist in Streator, Illinois.  In 1880, he took charge of Albert Barker’s photography gallery in Ottawa, Kansas.   

C. H. Clark, photographer. [Donkey Foal], 1884, Salida.  Albumen silver print.  Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.
His exact arrival in Colorado is disputed, but in December 1881 he purchased  L.K. Oldroyd’s gallery in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He published oversized stereoviews  of Denver, Colorado Springs, and scenes along the Denver & Rio Grande Railway.  In 1883, Clark worked out of Gunnison. He published and was the general trade agent for George Mellen’s photographic views.

In June 1884, he set up a studio in Salida, where his life-size, hand-colored portraits were consistently praised in the press. A display of his views and portraits was included at the 1887 Saguache County Fair.  In January 1888, a devastating fire broke out in Salida, just as Clark was moving his studio to new quarters.  The studio sustained $1300 in damages, and all of Clark’s early negatives of Salida were ruined.  

Mining scene
C. H. Clark, photographer. Shamrock Mine, Taylor Gulch, near Garfield, Colorado, 1887. Albumen silver print.  Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

In the fall of 1888, Clark formed a partnership with C. W. Erdlen.  Clark & Erdlen worked as partners until April 1889 when Clark left Salida, and Erdlen took over the gallery. Clark’s departure followed the death of his young daughter, Ada. The Clark family practiced the Christian Science religion and were criticized in the local press for not providing adequate care of Ada during her illness. The Clarks settled in Manitou, Colorado. His future whereabouts are unknown until 1919 when Civil War records indicate he was living in a home for disabled soldiers in Los Angeles.  He died in 1925 in San Diego.

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

Miss Julia Skolas: An Accomplished Colorado Photographer

March is Women’s History Month.  More than eighty women worked in Colorado’s photographic industry during the 19th century, as photographers, retouchers, colorists, and print mounters.  Biographical information about these women and examples of their work are often hard to find.

Earlier this year, I received a research grant from the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research that will allow me to travel to libraries and museums in distant Colorado locales to learn more about the photographers, both men and women, working in their communities.  I am very grateful for this support and will share my findings in this blog, so stayed tuned.

Julia Skolas
Charles A. Nast, photographer. Portrait of Julia Skolas, circa 1893. Courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District, image no. 394-46.

Fortunately, Julia Skolas,  is one of the better known woman photographers in Colorado.  She was born to Norwegian immigrants in Wisconsin on May 14, 1863.  She grew up with her nine siblings on a farm outside Cottage Grove, WI, a short distance east of Madison.

In the early 1890s, single and about thirty years of age, she moved nearly one thousand miles from her family and home to Denver.  On December 31, 1892, she attended Denver’s annual Norwegian New Year’s Eve ball. (Rocky Mountain News, Jan. 1, 1893, p. 2, c. 1)  It is very likely that she was living in Denver at this time, but she doesn’t appear in the city directory until 1894, with no occupation listed.  Her relaxed and unconventional pose in the portrait by Charles A. Nast makes me wonder if perhaps she learned photography from him.  Nast operated at the 1624 Curtis Street address between 1891 and 1893, which matches the time Skolas arrived in Denver.  Unfortunately, no records exist to confirm my suspicions.

North Cheyenne Canon
Julia Skolas, photographer. North Cheyenne Canon, hand-colored photograph. Courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District, image no. 394-17.

By 1896, Skolas lived in Colorado Springs, where she ran a photographic studio for a decade.  She was a member of the Monday Progress club, a women’s social and educational organization.  The members would give talks on current events and the arts.  The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jan. 29, 1905, p23) reported on  a debate about “Labor organizations,” with Mrs. C. L. Smith  of Manitou, taking the union side, Skolas, the non-union.  In 1903, at the club’s annual day-long picnic, held among the wildflowers in North Cheyenne Canon, “Miss Skolas…presented each guest with a puzzle, which proved to be a little sketch illustrating the name of the individual.” (Colorado Springs Gazette, June 28, 1903, p. 16, c.6)  She was also a founding member of the Colorado Springs Badger club, a group of ninety-one residents of the Springs who claimed Wisconsin as their former home.

Madonna and Child, Taber-Prang Art Company Illustrated Catalog, 1923, p. 162

In 1906, Skolas sold the copyright of her photograph “Madonna and Child” to the Tabor Prang Art Company, a well-known producer of art prints based in Springfield, MA.  Prang continued to offer this print for sale well into the 1920s.  Skolas submitted a several photographs to the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office between 1907 and 1912, but they do not appear in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.  In 1911, James Alexander Semple, singled out Skolas for inclusion in his book Representative Women of Colorado.


In 1907, Skolas moved her business to the mining town of Cripple Creek.  She photographed the interiors and exteriors of mines extensively, even making and selling real photo postcards that were just gaining favor as souvenirs. She remained there until around 1920, leaving many of her glass plate negatives behind.

Julia Skolas, photographer. Elton Mine, circa 1908, gelatin silver postcard.Courtesy of Special Collections, Pikes Peak Library District, image no. 394-29.

In her sixties, Julia  moved temporarily to Madison, Wisconsin, but she was back in Denver by 1924, working  as a photographer. She placed the following advertisement in the January 18, 1925 Denver Post: “ONE 8 x 10 view camera, 1 8 x 10 portrait lens, cheap.  Skolas, Apt. 29 1/2 1720 Logan.” signaling the end of her photographic career.

In later years she worked as a milliner, candle maker, and in candy sales.  This list of careers may show how difficult it was for an older woman to make a living.  By 1931 she had returned to Madison, Wisconsin, where she lived until the end of her life.  She died of a heart condition on December 31, 1934, and is buried at the West Koshkonong Lutheran Church Cemetery, in Stoughton, Wisconsin.  

Additional resources:

See more Julia Skolas photographs online at the Pikes Peak Library.

Here’s a podcast that features information about Julia Skolas and a few other early Colorado women photographers.

Bathke, Nancy and Brenda Hawley.  “Searching for the Early Women Photographers of the Pikes Peak Region.”  in Film and Photography on the Front Range.  Colorado Springs:  Pikes Peak Library District, 2012.

Thank you to Beverly Brannan, recently retired curator of photography at the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, for editing this post.


Byron H. Gurnsey, Colorado Springs’ First Photographer

B. H. Gurnsey produced hundreds of stereoviews of Colorado during the 1870s.  His series, Gurnsey’s Rocky Mountain Views and Scenes on the Line of the Denver & Rio Grande Railway, include images of Canon City, Colorado Springs, Leadville, Manitou, Pike’s Peak, and the Grand Canon of the Arkansas.  Numerous prominent institutions, including the George Eastman Museum, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum and the New York Public Library, collect and preserve Gurnsey’s work.

Leadville, Colorado.
B. H. Gurnsey, photographer. Leadville, Colorado, 1879. Albumen silver stereo view. The New York Public Library.

Byron Hamilton Gurnsey was born on October 12, 1833, in Chautauqua County, New York, to John M. Gurnsey and Susan Nevins Gurnsey.   He married Delilah Ida Simpson on December 9, 1858, in Battle Creek, Michigan.  B. H. Gurnsey served four years and nine months in the Civil War, first with the 41st Iowa Infantry, Company C, stationed at Fort Randall, Dakota Territory, and later in the 7th Iowa Cavalry.

Spotted Tail
Gurnsey & Illingworth, photographers. Spotted Tail, The Rebel Chief and HIs Party, circa 1870, albumen silver print. Copyright, The Trustees of the British Museum.

After the war, Gurnsey operated a  photographic studio at the corner of Front and Pearl Streets on Sioux City, Iowa’s levee.  He offered “Photographs and Ambrotypes.”  His stock included stereoscopic views and stereoscopes from an eastern supplier.  In 1870 he partnered with William H. Illingworth, as Gurnsey & Illingworth.  On June 5, 1871 a fire completely destroyed his workplace.  Even though he opened new photographic rooms over the Imperial Bakery, Gurnsey decided to leave Iowa City.  In December 1871 he relocated to Colorado.

Gurnsey opened the first photographic studio in Colorado Springs, with a second studio in Pueblo, Colorado.  In Pueblo, he worked above the St. James restaurant, until he completed a new studio on Main Street, which he operated until 1875.  He partnered with Eugene Brandt at this location.  

Cottonwood tree
B. H. Gurnsey, photographer. The Largest Cottonwood Tree in Colorado, Fifth Street, South Pueblo, circa 1875, albumen silver stereo view,  Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas. 

As his success grew, Gurnsey completed a new brick building in Colorado Springs on Pike’s Peak Avenue in May 1874. The following year he sold an impressive $4,000 worth of stereoviews.  In addition, his photographs received national attention when they were published in the July 4, 1874 issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.   This weekly news magazine, with a subscriber base numbering in the tens of thousands, published four wood engravings from photographs by Gurnsey: three views of Monument Park and one of Balancing Rock. 

Colorado Springs
B. H. Gurnsey, photographer. Pike’s Peak from Colorado Springs, circa 1875, albumen silver print. Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas.

Beginning in March 1877, Gurnsey advertised for a partner to take a one half interest in his stereoview business.  It is unlikely he found someone to fill that role, but in June 1877, Frank W. Grove did assist Gurnsey on a Denver and Rio Grande railroad excursion for Denver journalists.  The party traveled over the new track between Fort Garland and La Veta.  Gurnsey secured negatives for ten stereoscopic views and four large 11 by 14″ views, including photographs of Mule Shoe Bend.  He made prints for the railroad, as well as  Eastern customers, with one railroad customer ordering 7,200 views.  Gurnsey’s views were also sent as far away as Paris and China.

Mule Shoe
B. H. Gurnsey, photographer. The Mule Shoe, 1877, albumen silver print, The New York Public Library.

Gurnsey continued to operate in Colorado Springs until his death at the young age of forty-seven, on November 19, 1880.  He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs.  Gurnsey’s widow, Delilah Ida Simpson Gurnsey, operated the studio after her husband’s death.