Ouray County’s 19th Century Photographers (Part 2)

This post provides a chronological list of all known 19th century  professional studio photographers in Ouray County between 1892 and 1900.   See my earlier post for photographers working between 1880 and 1891.  This post shows how quickly some studios changed hands.  Did I miss any photographers?  Can you provide any additional biographical details or photographs?                                                                   

cabinet card
Brumfield, photographer. Portrait of a woman in her home. Albumen silver print. Ouray County Historical Society.

1892-1898                                                           Micheal Brumfield (c. 1855-1922) Brumfield arrived in Ouray in 1890, working with John E. Gilbert as Brumfield & Gilbert.  Brumfield split his time between Ouray and Silverton, making landscape views and portraits.  The Ouray Herald reported on his panoramic view of Ouray produced in 1896.  In December 1896, Powell briefly took over Brumfield’s Ouray studio.  Brumfield returned to Ouray for the 1897 Christmas season.  Johnson took over his studio in January 1898.  Brumfield continued to operate out of Silverton until 1911. His portrait of the unidentified women (left) was likely made in the woman’s home, rather than a studio.

1896-1897                                                                                                                        W. A. Powell succeeded Brumfield in November, 1896.  He photographed Ouray’s July 3, 1897  snowstorm, selling more than 500 copies of the scene.  Later that month, Powell and his wife left Ouray for Boise City, Idaho.  His studio was taken over by the Reed boys.

1897                                                                                                                           Reed No further information found.

1897-1898                                                                                                                     Edward John Fowler, (1871-1927)  E. F. Fowler was born on August 11, 1871, in Chicago.  He attended the University of Michigan.  In 1897 he produced a souvenir booklet entitled “Around & About Ouray.” No copies of this booklet are known to be extant.   He was active in the Ouray Camera Club.  By 1900 Fowler had moved to California where he worked as an engineer.  Fowler died in San Francisco on October 19, 1927.  

1898                                                                                                                                    Johnson, possibly R. H. In January 1898 Johnson advertised as “successor to Brumfield.”  But in  March 1898, Thomas McKee purchased the fixtures of this gallery.

Thomas M. McKee  (1854-1939)  McKee’s primary studio was located  in Montrose, Colorado where he worked with his wife, Mrs. Amanda S. Kauffman McKee.  He opened his Ouray quarters, about 35 miles south of Montrose, in January 1898.

Mrs. Amanda S. Kauffman McKee  (1863-1919)  Mrs. McKee ran her husband’s studio when he traveled.

George Dalgleish   Dalgleish, worked in Georgetown and Silverton, and for a short time in Ouray.  The Ouray Herald reported on October 13, 1898 that Dalgleish sold his Ouray gallery to Morton E. Chase.

Morton E. Chase  (1861-1939) operated studios in Greeley and Colorado Springs before setting up shop in Ouray in October 1898.  In 1902, Chase went to work for Brumfield in Silverton.

Una Wheeler  After joining Ouray’s camera club, Wheeler perfected her skills to become a professional photographer.

Beaumont Hotel
Attributed to Una Wheeler, photographer. Beaumont Hotel, Ouray, silver gelatin print, circa 1895. History Colorado. Accession # 2000.129.939

1899-1900                                                                                                           Orlando Fred Tyler (1857-1917)  In 1899, Tyler arrived in Colorado, setting up a studio in Ouray in the Opera House block.  He advertised for a  young  lady to learn to finish photographs that November.  In March 1900 he opened a photography school at his gallery, planning to teach amateurs how to use their Kodaks.  By September 1900, Tyler had moved to Pueblo, Colorado.  

Working Dates Unknown   I have seen prints by both of the firms listed below at the Ouray Historical Society, but I have been unable uncover other details or date the studios.                                                 Ouray Art Gallery
Brumfield & Smith, a partnership of Michael Brumfield and an unknown individual named Smith.

Thank you to Gail Zanett Saunders, volunteer photo archivist, OCHS, for providing access to the work of several Ouray photographers during my visit.  Additional thanks to Kathy Gibson for bringing Frank S. Balster to my attention.  This research trip was possible due to the generosity of the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.



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.  







Una Wheeler, Camera Club Member to Professional


Portrait of Una Wheeler Whinnerah, 1895, Ouray County Historical Society

Earlier this month I took a road trip to the Ouray County Historical Society’s Research Center to continue my study of  19th century Colorado photographers. Seeing examples of Una Wheeler’s photographs was the highlight of the trip.

Una Wheeler was born in Wisconsin on Valentine’s Day 1875 to Charles Augustus Wheeler and Abbie Eastman Wheeler.  She was the niece of  George M. Wheeler, superintending engineer of the Geographical Survey of the Territory of the U. S. West of the 100th Meridian.

In 1877, the family settled in Ouray, Colorado far from the amenities that the adult Wheeler’s enjoyed growing up on the East Coast.  Charles Wheeler, a surveyor and prominent citizen of Ouray, died unexpectedly from pneumonia on January 5, 1888 at the age of 38.  That left Abbie to take care of his wide-ranging business interests and their two children, Una (14) and Edward (11).  Charles’s nephew, Walter Wheeler, seven years younger than Abbie, stepped in to help with Charles’ businesses and ultimately married his aunt, Abbie.

Abbie and Walter performed in Ouray’s theater community.  They provided their children with a wide range of educational opportunities.  Una learned photography and classical dance.  Edward attended college in Denver.

Bachelor Trestle
Una Wheeler Whinnerah, photographer. Bachelor Trestle, circa 1900. Modern silver gelatin print from glass plate negative. Ouray Historical Society and The Huntington Library.

Around 1898, Una joined Ouray’s camera club.  While initially an amateur, Una eventually operated a photography studio out of the family’s home.  She photographed local landmarks, scenic views and mining interests with 5 x 7″ glass plate negatives.  Her friends  often posed whimsically  inside mines and with mining equipment.  

She displayed her photographs in the lobby of Ouray’s Beaumont Hotel and she sold her views at the San Juan Drug Company, alongside the work of other photographers.  Una offered both black and white and hand-colored photographs.  Later, when postcards gained favor, her work was printed in Germany–the place for  high quality and affordable postcards.

ore cart
Una Wheeler Whinnerah, photographer. Three woman and an ore car, circa 1900. Modern silver gelatin print from glass plate negative. Ouray Historical Society and The Huntington Library.

Wheeler married engineer, Richard Whinnerah, in 1902.  A few days before the wedding, seventy-five women attended  Ouray’s first bridal shower, gifting a total of 117 kitchen gadgets to Una.  The church, decorated with evergreen and apple blossoms, was filled to capacity for the wedding.  The couple traveled by train to California, enjoying a six-week honeymoon before returning to Ouray.  Their union would produce four children. 

After her marriage, Una continued to use her 5×7 camera and glass plate negatives, realizing that the quality of the glass plate negatives exceeded anything made with a simpler Kodak camera.  She mainly documented her children and their activities.  The Whinnerah’s lived in Ouray until 1930 when they moved to California for a few years.  They returned to Colorado when Richard was offered a job with the highway department.  In 1942 they retired to Rosemead, California.  Una Whinnerah died on June 22, 1957, in Los Angeles, CA.

In 1993, The Huntington Library in Pasadena, California acquired 347 5×7” glass plate negatives from the family of amateur historian, John B. Marshall, of Colorado.  The negatives were housed in a wooden box labelled: Rick Whinnerah, Rosemead, Calif.  The collection, attributed to Una Wheeler Whinnerah,  includes views of Ouray, as well as photographs of the Whinnerah children dating from 1898 to approximately 1912.  

Thank you to Gail Zanett Saunders, volunteer photo archivist, OCHS, for providing access to the work of several Ouray photographers during my visit. This research trip was possible due to the generosity of the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.