Photographers Active in Greeley in the 1880s (Part 2)

This post identifies studio photographers active in Greeley between 1886 and 1889.   See my earlier posts for photographers working in the 1870s and early 1880s. Did I miss any photographers?  Can you provide any additional biographical details?


Webster Bros.
Webster Bros., photographer. Mary Hawes and her dog, June 1889. City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection, AI-4700, .

Webster Bros.  A partnership of Harry D. Webster and Frederick A. Webster.

Harry Dorr Webster (1852-1927) was born on a farm in Hadley Township, Michigan to Edwin Baldwin Webster and Anna White Webster, the first of at least eleven children. In the early 1870s, he apprenticed to a Michigan photographer before studying under George F. Maitland of Buffalo, New York.

Harry worked briefly in Flint, Michigan before moving to Lapeer, Michigan to work for Charles A. Kelley.  Webster purchased Kelley’s gallery in 1879 and would continue to operate a studio in Lapeer until 1886 when he moved West. He opened Webster Bros. studio with his brother Frederic Arthur Webster in Laramie, Wyoming, before taking over Koonz’s studio in Greeley. The firm dissolved in January 1889.   Frederic moved further west and H. D. continued to work in Laramie until 1896.

Court House, Greeley
H. D. Webster, photographer. Court House, Greeley, Colorado., 1886. City of Greeley Museums, Permanent Collection, AI-0058.

In January 1897, Harry Webster sold his studio and moved to Cripple Creek, Colorado.   He and E. A. Yelton, worked together as Webster & Yelton through September 1897 at Cripple Creek.  Webster then worked on his own through 1904 and  ran a floral business from his home.

By 1907, Webster had relocated to Wilbur, Oregon, and in 1910 to West Pomeroy, Washington working as a photographer at both locations.  In 1914 he took over Miss Edith Robinson’s studio in Burley, Idaho.  Seven years later, in 1921, he placed an advertisement in the Burley Herald offering his studio for sale.  He died on June 11, 1927, at Burley.  He was buried in the Avondale Cemetery in Flint, Michigan.

Frederick  Arthur Webster
(1860-1933) was born in Lapeer, Michigan.  He learned photography at fifteen from his older brother Harry Webster.  They worked together in Lapeer and later F. A. Webster worked in St Johns, Michigan.  Between 1886-1888, the two brothers ran the Greeley branch of the Webster Bros. studio.

In 1889, Webster moved to Oakland, CA where he would maintain a photography studio for over four decades.  He published a booklet of his photographs of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  Throughout his career, Webster was active in professional associations. In 1918, his work was profiled in the Photographic Journal of America. The work included a portrait of Webster and several photographs by him. He died on April 26, 1933 in Oakland, CA.  His wife and one son survived him.

Morton Ellsworth Chase
(b.c. 1861-1929) was born in Dearborn County, Indiana to Anthony Chase and Sarah Tufts Butterfield Chase.  In 1866, the family moved to Urbana, Illinois.  Anthony Chase died before Morton was ten years old.  After Anthony’s death, Sarah Chase ran a boarding house in Urbana.

Morton E. Chase attended the Illinois Industrial University, now known as the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign.  In 1881, he taught painting at the school and there he met his first wife, Mary McNeil.  Mary was also an artist, skilled in crayon work and painting.  They were married on September 5, 1882.

Chase’s photography career began in Urbana with Jacob Scoggins.  In 1884, Chase purchased a studio in his hometown.  His photographic work won prizes at the county fair and the university hired him to make the senior class portraits, a contract usually given to a Chicago studio.  Sadly, Chase’s wife died of consumption in the fall of 1885.

Leaving his gallery in charge of G. R. Gamble, Chase traveled west, landing a position at C. C. Wright’s Central City, Colorado studio.  He promised to return to Urbana by April 1, 1886, where he would offer new styles of photographs, but shortly after his return, Chase put his possessions up for auction and in early September headed back to Colorado in a covered buggy with his friend William Goodspeed.  By March 1887, Chase had opened a studio at the corner of 15th and Larimer in Denver, offering locket-sized photographs to life-sized portraits.  In June, he married Mary Annette “Nettie” Beymer (1864-1949). After a year in Denver, Chase returned to Illinois, taking charge of Thomas Naughton’s studio in Champaign.  Soon, however, the Chase’s returned to Colorado, this time settling at Greeley.

Chase documented the rural community of Greeley, making portraits and photographing the agricultural riches of the area, especially its large potato crops.  He also traveled around with his tent studio, including a trip to Erie, Colorado to photograph its coal mines.  During the summer of 1890, Chase spent two months in the mountains near Breckenridge, Colorado.  After he returned to Greeley he set out in his photo car for towns in northern Colorado, including Berthoud and Lyons.

Child with dog
M. E. Chase & Co., photographer. Unidentified child and dog. Collection of the author.

Early in 1892, Chase hired photographer F. E. Baker, who managed Chase’s new branch gallery on the eastern plains in Fort Morgan.  The town had never had a resident photographer and relied upon itinerants, so they were excited about having a local photographer.

In the fall of 1892, Chase ran out of photo paper.  It took six weeks to replenish his stock which interfered with business before the Christmas holidays.  The following March, Chase sold his business to F. E. Baker and  left Greeley under a dark cloud.  Unsubstantiated rumors circulated that he was romantically involved with a young girl who worked in his studio, causing Mrs. Chase to suffer a relapse of typhoid fever.

The Chases moved to Manitou, Colorado in 1897.  The following year Chase bought Dalgleish’s Ouray, Colorado studio.  In March 1901, Chase took Harvey Lewis as a partner, with Chase behind the camera and Lewis managing the business.  In the fall, Chase partnered with H. E. Lutes.  Their views were sold at book and stationery stores in the area and were popular with tourists.  They had a photo car that traveled to mountain towns.  In March 1902, their partnership was dissolved with Lutes taking over.  Chase continued to work in the photo business from his home.

In August 1902, Chase accepted a position in Brumfield’s Silverton studio.  He later worked in several cities throughout the state as a photographer and house painter.  Morton Ellsworth Chase died on January 17, 1939 in Los Angeles, California.

Phil Bevis
(1865-1948) studied architecture at the University of Illinois at Champaign, but poor health prevented him from completing his studies.  He worked in the university’s blueprint room before moving to Greeley to assist photographer, Morton E. Chase.  Later, he served as general secretary of the Y.M.C.A. for several decades.

Thank you to Beverly W. Brannan for editing this post.  Miranda Todd at the Greeley Museum provided research assistance and scans.