Photographers Active in Greeley in the 1880s (Part 1)

This post identifies studio photographers active in Greeley between 1880 and 1887.   See my earlier post for photographers working in the 1870s.  This post shows how quickly some studios changed hands.  Did I miss any photographers?  Can you provide any additional biographical details?

Orlando D. Shields (b. c. 1851-1935) was born in Mahoning County, Ohio. The 1880 census lists Shields as a photographer living in Greeley, Colorado, although no examples of his work have been found.  For many years he operated a nursery business, selling fruit, shade and ornamental trees from his farm in Larimer County.  Shields died on April 3, 1935, while visiting family in Long Beach, California.

George Wallace Wright (b. c. 1855-1931) was born in Maine.  His older brother, Charles C. Wright, was also a photographer.  Wright worked as a photographer in Chariton, Iowa, until June 1880, moving to Greeley, for his health.  The town board permitted Wright to set up a temporary gallery in August.  Later, he moved to Loveland, Colorado, and continued his trade.  A tintype from this time notes that Wright ran a railroad picture car in Colorado and Wyoming.

For the next decade or so, Wright lived a peripatetic life, moving to Portland, Maine; Holyoke, Massachusetts; and Bath, New York.  He settled in New London, Connecticut for several years before finishing his career in Laconia, New Hampshire.  Wright died on December 9, 1931, in Tilton, New Hampshire.  

1880, 1885-1886, 1891-1908                                                                                               Clark M. Marsh (1833-1910) and his twin brother, Benjamin, were born on December 26, 1833, to Belorman Marsh and Mary Heller Marsh on a farm in Southport, New York.

Marsh, an early practitioner of photography, began making ambrotypes in Elmira, New York as early as 1856.  On July 11, 1860 he married Charlotte E. Kellogg.  By 1860 he moved his studio to Canandaigua, New York, offering photographs in lockets or pins for as little as 25 cents.  He specialized in copying and enlarging daguerreotypes.  In 1866 he updated his gallery with a new skylight.  Marsh acquired the exclusive right to use Wing’s Patent Gem Camera, designed by Simon Wing.  This camera used multiple lenses to produce tiny gem tintypes measuring approximately 1” by 1-1/4”.

In December 1866, Marsh took E. B. Lewis as a partner. Marsh & Lewis added a music store to the photo gallery.  They sold organs, violins, pianos, sheet music and other musical merchandise.  However, the partnership dissolved in May 1867.  In January 1868, a fire damaged Marsh’s photography gallery.  He quickly set up a new gallery on Canandaigua’s Main Street and became an agent for Grover & Baker Sewing Machines.  But later that year, Marsh announced that he planned to move West and scheduled an auction to sell his household goods, including five mattresses, one marble-topped table, three good carpets, and three swarms of bees.  He lived briefly in Painesville, Ohio, but returned to Canandaigua by the winter of 1869. 

In March 1870 Marsh took J. C. Bushfield as a partner.  They worked together for about five months.  Shortly after that, Marsh relocated to Havana, New York, where his output included stereoviews of the local scenery, showing rocks, bridges, tunnels, cascades, and gorges.

Havana Falls stereo
B. F. Marsh, photographer. “Eagle Cliff Falls, [Havana, NY]” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs.
A year later, Marsh spent six months in Greeley to improve his health and started selling ice cream from his photography gallery.  In the fall of 1885 Clark Marsh was back in Greeley working with his brother Benjamin as the Marsh Bros. Their partnership lasted until April 1886.  

Dr. Hawes
Clark M. Marsh, photographer. Dr. Jesse Hawes wearing his antiseptic suit for contagious diseases, ca. 1899. City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection,

It was not until 1891 that Clark Marsh set up a permanent gallery in Greeley, purchasing goods for the studio in Denver.  During the Christmas season, he took 65 baby pictures for free, which resulted in 400 portrait orders.  In August 1895, Marsh offered free portraits to every potato farmer and planned to exhibit them on Greeley’s Potato Day.  Two years later, he expanded his studio with a brick addition and added  four new backdrops.  By 1901, his son, Charles, “Chub” had joined the business.  They offered Kodak cameras and supplies.  

In October 1908, Marsh sold his photography business to E. Wallace.  Shortly afterward, Marsh spent six months in San Diego, California visiting his daughter.  Clark M. Marsh died on May 19, 1910, at the age of 76, due to heart failure while visiting family in Boise, Idaho.  His body was returned to Greeley and he was buried at Linn Grove Cemetery. Clark M. Marsh was survived by four daughters and a son.  

C.C. Wright cdv
Verso of C. C. Wright carte de visite with the date of 1882 printed on the card.  Scan from ebay.

Charles C. Wright (b. c. 1840-1887) Wright came to Colorado in 1882 from Indiana.  His Greeley studio was located near the depot.  In October 1882, he opened another studio in Denver over Reithmann’s Drug Store, at the corner of Fifteenth and Larimer streets.  In early 1883, he turned over his Greeley studio to John R. King.  

John R. King
(b. c. 1853-1927) began his photographic career in Elmira, New York in the late 1870s.  During the 1880s, he worked in photography studios throughout Colorado, including Denver, Central City, Boulder and Greeley, where he was often associated with C. C. Wright.  In 1882, he managed Wright’s Greeley gallery, which specialized in photographing homes.  King took possession of the gallery in January 1883, planning to only stay in Greeley for a couple of weeks, but demand for his services kept him in town until early February.  Later that year he moved his photographic operations to Boulder.  By 1891, King had returned to Elmira and worked various jobs, including bookkeeper and bartender.

E. W. Pierce (or Peirce) (b. c. 1836-1888) Born in Troy, New York, Pierce arrived in Greeley in September 1883, leasing Benjamin F. Marsh‘s studio.  He published an accordion-style souvenir booklet of Greeley illustrated with nine photographs.  In 1886, he relocated his gallery to Los Angeles, California.

Marsh Bros.
 Benjamin Franklin Marsh and his twin brother Clark M. Marsh worked 
together between the fall of 1885 and April 1886.


Three children
Koontz & Son, photographers. Three unidentified children on cabinet card mount. Collection of the author.

John Luther Koonz  (1838-1890) was born in New York to Isaac Koonz and Roxana Jennings Koonz.  J. L. Koonz married Catharine Mary “Kate” Dickerson on January 27, 1866, in Outagamie County, Wisconsin and they welcomed their first and only child, James, in July 1867.

By 1868, Koonz had opened a photography gallery in the rapidly growing town of Appleton, Wisconsin, on the Fox River.  After 17 years in Appleton, the Koonz family moved to Greeley, Colorado In 1885.  Initially, John operated the studio independently, but a year later, his son James A. Koonz (1867-1917) joined him. 

In the late 1880s, the family moved to Herkimer, New York.  Unfortunately, John L. Koonz died of cancer on July 19, 1890.  His remains rest at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Gloversville, New York.

Thank you to Miranda Todd, Archives Assistant, Greeley Museum,  for research assistance and providing scans and to Beverly W. Brannan for proofreading this post.

Who Was E. Warren Pierce?

Pierce, photographer. Mrs. John Hall, Feb. 1, 1884, albumen silver print on cdv mount. Collection of the author.

Last year at the Denver Post Card Show, I found a carte de visite  of an unremarkable woman taken by Pierce from Greeley, Colorado.  I checked my database of more than 1,200 Colorado photographers and noticed that Pierce was not on my list.  My database is compiled chiefly from the seminal (but now outdated) book on Colorado photography, Colorado on Glass by Terry Wm. Mangan, 1975, Biographies of Western Photographers by Carl Mautz, 2018, and keyword searching the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection database.

To find out more about Pierce, I began my research at the Hazel E. Johnson Research Center at the Greeley History Museum in Greeley, Colorado.  Years ago, museum volunteers combed through their old newspaper collections and noted any mention of photographers working in the city.  They prepared a card file arranged by photographers’ names, providing a goldmine for researchers, as the indexed newspapers have not been digitized.

Pierce, verso of cdv.

In September 1883, E. W. Pierce arrived in Greeley to take charge of Benjamin F. Marsh’s gallery while Marsh traveled east to visit relatives.  According to the April 23, 1884 Greeley Tribune, Pierce “began his artistic career in New York City, elaborated it in Chicago, polished it up in Denver…”   He  used the new instantaneous dry plate process that allowed Pierce to “take your head off in a second.”  While he did not necessarily need sunlight for the exposure, he did need the sun for making the prints.  Without it, the prints would be delayed.  He was skilled in artistic lighting, retouching, and finishing.

Pierce stayed in Greeley after Marsh returned from his trip, even improving the studio by purchasing new photographic instruments from the east. During his stay, he claimed to have made nearly 10,000 negatives.  This is probably an exaggeration, as Greeley’s population was only 1,500 in the mid-1880s.  All negatives were numbered and booked, but neither the negatives nor the inventory are known to exist today.  Pierce left Greeley in April 1884 for a viewing trip to Southern Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

In the summer of 1884, Marsh returned to Greeley with the goal of producing a souvenir view book of the city.  The Tribune reported, “His plans[sic] is to make 12 or 24 negatives, and show proofs, and select 12 of the most interesting views, bind them in an elegant album cover, and supply them to subscribers at the low rate of $3.00 each, provided a sufficient number can be obtained.”  By late August 1884, the accordian-style book had been produced,  measuring roughly 5″ x 8″ consisting of nine photographs of Greeley.  The book’s cover includes Pierce’s middle name, Warren, which should help identify the photographer, but only led to a dead end in my research.  

E. Warren Pierce & Co. Greeley, Weld Co, Colorado. Souvenir view book, 1884. AI-0059, City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection.
Oasis Hotel
E. W. Pierce, photographer. Oasis Hotel, page from souvenir view book, albumen silver print, 1884. AI-0059.2, City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection.

Pierce remained off and on in Greeley until the fall of 1885.  Then he went to California, running the Elite Studio in Los Angeles.  His last studio was located in Santa Ana in 1887. 

My theory is that E. W. Pierce is the same photographer who worked in Galena, Illinois in the 1860s and 1870s.  His name was variously spelled as  E. W. Peirce, E. W. Pierce, E. W. K. Pierce and Edward Woodbine Peirce.

Pierce was born circa 1836 in Troy, New York.  As a teen, he in lived in Brooklyn, New York, where he father was a merchant.  By 1864, Pierce was working as a photographer in Galena, Illinois.  Before December 1, 1876, Pierce  sold his gallery to John H. Pooley.  Pierce then traveled around the Midwest setting up temporary galleries before acquiring the Railroad Palace Photographing Car.  The coach measured fifty feet long, ten feet wide and eight feet high, containing a reception room and operating department.  The car followed the line of the Illinois Central.

A brief mention in the March 15, 1880 issue of the  Galena Daily Gazette provides a Colorado connection:  “E. W. K. Pierce, the artist, has sold out his Des Moines establishment, and has started a general store in Gunnison City,  Col.”  He could have then resided in Greeley between 1883 and 1885, and then moved on to Los Angeles.  Edward W. Pierce died on September 4, 1888 in California and is buried at Napa County’s Tulocay Cemetery.

What do you think of this theory?

Miranda Todd, Archives Assistant, City of Greeley Museums scanned the two images from the Greeley Museums and provided research assistance.  Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography at the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, proofread this post.