Fred L. Garrison was born on April 9, 1867 in Ohio.He became interested in photography in his twenties.By 1891, he subscribed to The St. Louis and Canadian Photographer while living in Edon, Ohio.The following year, he worked in New Iberia, Louisiana, photographing outdoor views, such as sugars mills, churches and private residences.Garrison met photographer, James C. Handley, in Louisiana and they would work together both in that state and later in Colorado.
In 1897, Garrison rode the Denver & Rio Grande railroad to the end of the line in Red Cliff, Colorado.He traveled by stage to Carbondale and joined the D. & R. G. surveying party.The following year Garrison opened a photo studio in Rifle, Colorado and later that year expanded his operations to Glenwood Springs. He went on to set up his tent gallery across from the court house in Meeker, Colorado in 1899 and 1900.
While the studio was known for years as the Garrison Bros., Fred’s brother Orson, was only active between 1900 and 1902.
Garrison won a prize, offered by Leslie’s Weekly, for his photograph of a railway collision at Rifle.The photo was published in the December 25, 1902, issue of the magazine.
Fred traveled to patron’s homes, making views of stores, home interiors, livestock, ditches and farms.He also visited communities, like Hayden, Collbran and Steamboat Springs, that were too small to support a photographer, making his services available to those who might not travel to Rifle.
In the 1910s he added novelty photo buttons to his inventory and also made a specialty of developing negatives and finishing prints for amateurs.Garrison provided many of the photographs used in the April 7, 1916 issue of The Rifle Telegram, a 28 page commemorative issue profiling local businessmen, educators, religious institutions and fraternal and social organizations.
Believed to be a confirmed bachelor, Garrison surprised the local community when he married Ola Sarah Anfenson on October 30, 1915 in Glenwood Springs.Prior to her marriage, Ola operated a photo studio in Debeque, Colorado.She worked in the Rifle studio alongside her husband, continuing the business into the 1940s.
Thanks to Cecil and Betty Waldron, volunteers at the Rifle Heritage Center for sharing their knowledge of the Garrison family. Keegan Martin, Digital Imaging Assistant, History Colorado, provided the scan of Hayden, Colorado. Jori Johnson, Collections Access Coordinator, Stephen H. Hart Research Center at History Colorado, provided assistance with ordering the scan. The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research provided travel funds for this research.
Thank you to Elisabeth Parker, former assistant chief, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington, D.C., for proof-reading this post.
History lovers, help me solve a mystery! This blog post has been simmering for months because I was fascinated by one photo–the charming group portrait in front of the log cabin. If you look closely, there is a sign above the door that reads “Willa Catha Hotel.” I immediately thought of the author, Willa Cather, but she was a young girl living in Nebraska when this photo was taken. Share your thoughts!
Augustus W. Dennis was born on December 29, 1858 to Selah G. Dennis and Bethiah Thorndike Dennis in Rockland, Maine. The youngest of six boys, he attended school in Hallowell, Maine.In 1869, Selah, now a widower, moved his family to Melrose, Massachusetts, a short ten miles north of Boston.The following year, twelve-year old Augustus was severely injured when he was thrown from a wagon.Unable to find adequate medical care in Massachusetts, Dennis traveled to London’s famous St. Thomas Hospital. Dennis spent five years in London recovering from his injury.He returned to the U. S. in 1876, settling in Austin, Minnesota.
In Austin, Dennis learned photography from a Mr. Peck.They worked together as Peck & Dennis until January 1879, when Dennis took sole proprietorship of the gallery.In November 1879 he sold the Austin gallery and briefly relocated to Faribault, Minnesota.He left for Colorado in a covered wagon in April 1880.
Dennis arrived in Canon City, Colorado where he took possession of E. G. Morrison’s photo gallery on Main Street, and sold Morrison’s stereos of Colorado scenery.He also maintained the city’s free reading room.The library contained more than 150 books and seventy-five newspaper titles.For ten cents a week, patrons could take books home to read.
In March 1881, Canon City photographer J. A. Boston retired and sold his instruments, negatives and stock to Dennis.Due to an increase in business, Dennis hired several assistants, including Thomas J. Colpas, from Kansas City, to work in his gallery.In June 1881, Dennis set up a temporary studio at Colorado’s first state penitentiary to document convicts, recording their likenesses in the event of their escape.Dennis also made a series of photographs of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.In addition to photographs, Dennis sold rattan furniture and pianos in the gallery.
In February 1883, Dennis added a partner, William E. Few.They operated as Dennis & Few through 1885.Few would later work with Dennis in Glenwood Springs, where Dennis relocated around 1886.His first Glenwood studio consisted of a tent north of the river.Later he moved to permanent quarters on Blake Avenue. Dennis used the dry instantaneous process to photograph local scenery.In November 1892, Dennis traveled to Mexico on official business to photograph government documents related to the Mexican land grant of 1838. He lived in Glenwood Springs through the early 1900s, serving as the city’s mayor in 1892.
Dennis photographed the development of Glenwood’s hot springs, now the world’s largest hot springs pool. Located along the Colorado River in Glenwood’s downtown area, the hot springs began operation in July 1888.
While Dennis announced in November 1902 that he and his wife were moving to California for his wife’s health, it seems that they relocated to Pueblo, Colorado, naming his business the Rembrandt Studio. In December 1904, Dennis advertised the sale of his Pueblo studio due to his wife’s illness. They removed to Long Beach, California where Mrs. Dennis passed away in August 1905.
Dennis returned to Glenwood Springs in 1906, becoming a cattle rancher. He died on July 24, 1927, Glenwood Springs. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Canon City, next to his wife.
Thank you to Carolyn Cipperly, Archivist, Glenwood Springs Historical Society, for research help and Beverly W. Brannan for proof reading this post. Roger Genser confirmed the attribution of Dennis’ Canon city street scene. The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research provided funds for the scans from the Glenwood Historical Society.
Walter Henry Foreman was born in the County of Surry, England in 1865, arriving in the United States in 1884. He settled in Denver with his mother and gained employment with photographer George Stephan in 1886.The following year Foreman opened his own studio on Larimer Street in Denver.He exhibited photographs alongside William Henry Jackson at the 1886 Colorado Manufacturers Exposition in Denver.
Remaining true to his British roots, Foreman helped organize Denver’s first Cricket Club.Later, his studio served as headquarters for the Swift’s foot ball club.Foreman was also active in British social groups, attending picnics and competing in foot races.In 1887, he won first place in a 100 yard scratch race, beating his opponent by eight yards and taking home a black marble clock.
Around 1896, Foreman began working for the Black Sisters in Boulder, Colorado.He purchased their studio in 1898 and added a department that specialized in enlargements.He left Boulder and ran studios in Loveland and Brush, Colorado before returning to Denver in 1911.
In 1913, a long-time Denver business, Turner Moving & Storage, held a contest to design a new sign.Foreman won the contest, which drew hundreds of entries.His illuminated design used 1,800 bulbs, showing a globe with North and South America outlined in green lights. For his efforts, Foreman won $50 in gold.
After a successful career as a photographer, Foreman’s last place of employment was Elitch Gardens, an amusement park in Denver.Walter H. Foreman died at his home in Denver on August 1, 1928 at the age of 62, leaving a widow.His remains rest in Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery.
The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research provided funds for the scan from the City of Greeley Museum. Miranda Todd, Archives Assistant,City of Greeley Museums scanned the image and provided research assistance.
My list of women active in the Colorado’s 19th century photographic trades numbers nearly 100. I suspect that number is much larger if you consider the wives and daughters who worked behind the scenes in family studios. For Women’s History Month, I have featured five women active on Colorado’s Eastern Plains. Some women pursued photography as an occupation, often combined with teaching, like Clara Ensminger. And while this blog focuses on professionals, I included one amateur photographer, Alice L. Parker, due to her extensive documentation of schools and ranches on the plains.
Ermina Harriet “Minnie” Darling Henson Dayton (1867-1942) Minnie Darling was born on August 23, 1867, in Breckenridge, Missouri, northeast of Kansas City, to Charles Nelson Darling and Elenor Louise Huber Darling. The family moved to Kansas in the mid-1870s. The 1885 Kansas census lists 17-year old Minnie married with a 4 month old son and living with her parents. In 1889, Minnie married Bruce Dayton, with whom she would have a second child.
Minnie Dayton lived in Brush, Colorado in 1899, where she operated a photograph gallery on Colorado Avenue east of the high school.She produced cabinet cards and stamp photographs.In March 1900, Minnie moved to Alva, Oklahoma where her husband was homesteading.After his death in 1901, Minnie proved up the land.By 1920, Minnie returned to Colorado, living in Morgan County until her death.
Clara AmeliaEnsminger (1859-1936) Clara Ensminger was born in Ohio in 1859 to George William Ensminger and Adaline Hanna Ensminger.She spent her childhood on the family farm in Tama, Iowa.In 1875, the family moved to Grinnell, Iowa.Between 1877 and 1880, Clara studied at Iowa College (now Grinnell College).The 1880 census listed Clara as a teacher in Grinnell.
In 1884, Clara worked as a retoucher and finisher for photographer Charles Clifford in Newton, 20 miles west of Grinnell.By December 1889, Clara lived in Yuma, Colorado where she operated a photography studio.She also homesteaded 160 acres outside Yuma.Clara spoke about geography to the Washington County Teacher’s Association in March 1893.
By 1896, Clara was back in Iowa working again as a retoucher for Charles Clifford & Son in Muscatine, Iowa.The following year she opened her own studio in Toledo, IA, hiring women as assistants and to cover for her when she traveled.She often attended the annual Iowa State Photographers’ Association meetings.Clara ran the photography studio until 1914, when she sold the business to Miss Lora Bingham, of Mount Tabor, Wisconsin.
Clara moved back to Colorado around 1919.She lived with relatives and worked as a retoucher.In the mid-1920s she moved to the Los Angeles area to live with her sister, Mrs. Charles Norris. Clara Ensminger died at the age of 78 on November 16, 1936.She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Aurelia “Marcella” Ensminger (1857-1913), is the older sister of photographer, Clara Ensminger.In 1876-1877, Marcella attended Iowa College’s (now Grinnell College) Ladies Preparatory school.She taught school in Iowa before moving to Yuma, Colorado, where she continued her teaching career. She was listed in the 1893 Colorado State Business Directory as a photographer and teacher in Yuma, Colorado.No examples of her photographic output have been found.
Marcella returned to Iowa in 1893. She continued to teach and was considered one of the finest primary school teachers in Tama County, Iowa. Marcella underwent cancer surgery in 1911 and 1912.She died on May 2, 1913 and is buried in Helena Cemetery, Tama County, Iowa.
Alice L. Parker (1865-1939) moved with her family in 1892 from Illinois to Sedgwick County, Colorado, where her parents, Bertrand DeRolf “B. D.” Parker and his wife, Caroline Farwell Parker started a sheep ranch.
After a childhood illness, Alice walked with a cane and later in life used crutches. Alice lived on the sheep ranch, south of Julesburg, for 14 years. Her amateur photography documented day-to-day activities of the ranch and the local schools. Later, she moved into town with her parents. She was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving as registrar.
In 1893, Alice’s brother, Cuthbert Farwell (C. F.) Parker graduated from Illinois State Normal school (now Illinois State University). He returned to Sedgwick County, Colorado and taught school. Alice photographed his students outside the schoolhouse in 1895. Alice Parker died May 23, 1939 and is buried at Hillside Cemetery, in Julesburg, Colorado.
The Fort Sedgwick Historical Society’s collection includes enlargements made from Parker’s glass plate negatives held by her descendants.
Rhoda Wilson Eslick McClintock Blowers (b.c. 1862-1932) The Julesburg Grit reported that Mrs. R. Eslick planned to open a photo studio in Julesburg, Colorado in December 1898. Unbeknownst to the local citizens, Eslick had married J. A. McClintock, owner of Julesburg’s livery stable, a few weeks earlier in Denver. In January 1903, The Grit-Advocate announced that Mrs. McClintock “has gone east to enter a photograph college for high art photography.” She returned to Julesburg in April, but by November she had relocated to Tonganoxie, Kansas, leaving her husband in Colorado. She reunited with her husband in the spring of 1905, when they moved their businesses to Norfolk, Nebraska, but by the fall of that year, Mrs. McClintock had left her husband and moved to Denver. Her photographic career seemed to end at this time. She later moved to Des Moines, Iowa and later Buffalo, New York, where she lived at the time of her death.
Thanks to Stan Busse and Jeana Johnson at the Fort Sedgwick Museum, and Carol Haynes and Hilda Hassler at the Phillips County Museum for their assistance during my visit. Yale University generously provided the scans for Clara Ensminger’s photographs. Thanks to Beverly W. Brannan for proofreading this post. The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research provided travel funds to visit these institutions.
One of the many exhibitions on display at the Wray Museum, on Colorado’s eastern plains, is devoted to the work of photographer William B. Coston. Coston carried on a photography business in Wray for decades. The exhibition, comprised of copy prints made from Coston’s original prints and negatives, document the people and events of Wray, Colorado.
William “Will” B. Coston was born in the small farming community east of Skidmore, Missouri to Alonzo Coston and Ursula Farris Coston on October 18, 1870. The family lived on a 160 acre farm and operated a blacksmith shop.
In March 1886, Alonzo Coston and his son, Will, loaded the family possessions, including farm implements and livestock, onto a boxcar and rode to Wray. Will’s mother and two of his siblings waited for the pair to get settled before taking a passenger train to Colorado. Alonzo resumed working as a blacksmith and Will set type for the local newspaper, The Wray Rattler.
Will met his future wife, Emma Grace Mason, at Wray’s Presbyterian church, where Grace played piano and Will sang in the choir. The couple continued to engage in musical activities throughout their lives. Grace offered piano lessons in the community and Will sang, played the cornet and served as bandmaster.
Will and Grace married in June 1894 and homesteaded north of Wray, practicing dry farming. In an effort to find work during a drought in the late 1890s, the Coston’s moved to Greeley, Colorado. It was there that Will Coston learned photography under Clark M. Marsh. He also learned the surveying trade.
Around September 1, 1898, Coston opened his photography studio in Wray, dividing his time between the studio and his farm. He made photographic portraits and also documented Wray’s businesses, celebrations, and farms. Patrons came from western Kansas and Nebraska for portrait sittings. Coston continued to be active as a photographer through the 1940s.
In 1910 Coston built a new one-story pressed red brick building for his studio. The building measured 25 feet long and 70 feet long and included a large sky light, a modern portrait camera, a new posing chair, and a shadow screen to direct light on the sitter. He shared the building with The Peoples State Bank.
In late October 1922 a fire destroyed the Coston home when a kerosine lamp exploded. The house was a complete loss and many of the photographer’s negatives were damaged in the blaze. Over the years Will Coston pursued many occupations in addition to photography. He sold insurance, mined for gold and silver northwest of Loveland, drilled for oil in Wyoming, operated the Olive Lake Resort, and held the position of Yuma County surveyor for several years.
Will Coston died on March 12, 1967 at the age of 96. He was predeceased by his wife. His remains rest in Grandview Cemetery, Wray, Colorado.
I am grateful to Ardith Hendrix, Director of the Wray Museum for her assistance during my visit and to The Peter Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research for providing funding for this research trip. Thank you to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography, Library of Congress, for proof-reading this post.
Fort Morgan, the county seat of Morgan County, is known as “The Capital of the Plains.” Originally a stop along the Overland Trail, Abner S. Baker platted the town on May 1, 1884, In the late 1800s, the city’s population never reached 700. Traveling photographers or photographers who juggled more than one profession to make ends meet, served the needs of the community. Profiles for 19th century photographers active in Fort Morgan are below. Do you know of any I missed?
Frank E. Baker (1849-1939), a photographer from Greeley, Colorado opened branch galleries in Fort Morgan and Loveland in the early 1890s. A biographical sketch of Baker will appear in a later post about Greeley.
Baker’s tender cabinet card portrait of two well-dressed children suggests that the child on the left may have been a difficult subject to photograph. The child holds a doll and a partially eaten apple, while holding onto a hand from a hidden family member trying to comfort the young child.
Boy S. Bohn was born in Germany in December 1861.Trained as a photographer in his native country, Bohn departed Hamburg, Germany on the Patria and arrived in New York City on December 26, 1895.He may have worked in St. Louis, Missouri, before joining photographer F. W. Webster in Des Moines, Iowa in 1899. In April 1900, Jacob O. Brown employed Bohn in his studio.By June 1900, Bohn resided in Medicine Creek, Nebraska, continuing to work in the photographic field.His life after 1900 is undocumented.
Jacob O. Brown was born on January 12, 1871 north of Syracuse in Parish, New York to Isaac and Isabelle Brown.By 1880, the family was living in St. Paul, Nebraska.
In 1886, J. O. Brown operated a bicycle repair shop in Fort Morgan, Colorado.After his marriage to Lettie M. Worrell in 1897, Brown opened a barber shop. The first mention of Brown’s photographic work appeared in the February 4, 1898 issue of TheFort Morgan Times, an occupation he often practiced in addition to the tonsorial art.Later that year he purchased a 6-1/2 x 8-1/2” camera, wanting to photograph animals and outdoor scenes, in addition to portraits.He also made stamp photographs. Stamp photographs were made by copying an image onto multiple stamp-sized perforated and gummed photo paper.Each image measuring only 3/4 x 1.”
In November 1899, Brown acquired a new photo tent.He held a contest to name the new studio, selecting “The Elite Gallery” as the winning entry. In the spring of 1900, he hired German-born photographer Boy Bohn to work in his gallery for a short time.Brown expanded his barber shop in 1902 and also opened an ice cream factory.Brown left Colorado for the West Coast. By 1914 he had settled in Tacoma, Washington, continuing to work as a photographer and barber.By 1920 he resided in Salem, Oregon.He died on July 1,1934 and his remains rest in Idlewilde Cemetery, Hood River, Oregon.
Crescent Gallery–See T. H. Madden
Elite Gallery–See J. O. Brown
J. E. Evans was active as a photographer in Fort Morgan and vicinity in 1898.
Field was an unidentified traveling photographer active in Fort Morgan in 1889.
Harrington & Son A partnership of Joshua Henry Harrington and his son Orville C. Harrington. As traveling photographers, they worked in Fort Morgan in 1888.
Thomas Henry Madden was born in Clay, Illinois to John Thomas Madden and Ann Maria Pfaff. In 1869, he married Leah L. Buzick in Richland County, IL.He worked as a day laborer and wagon maker.
By 1895 Madden ran a photography gallery in Fort Morgan, Colorado, making outdoor views and portraits.Concurrently, he grew crops on his farm on the south fork of the Republican River.By the fall of 1896 Madden worked full-time as a photographer.The following year, The Fort Morgan Times reported that Madden planned to go on the road with a well equipped, horse-drawn traveling photograph gallery.Madden and J. Clark Silance spent three months photographing eastern Colorado.When they returned, Madden continued on his own to work in the small towns on the eastern plains, including Brush and Sterling.Later, he took his family to Nebraska where he carried on business.
In 1899, Madden’s operation went by the name “Crescent Gallery,”located opposite McComb’s livery stable in Fort Morgan.He offered 25 stamp photographs for 25 cents.
Madden ran his Fort Morgan studio until about 1908.In 1918, two weeks after undergoing an operation, Thomas Henry Madden died on April 3, 1918. His remains rest at Fort Morgan’s Riverside Cemetery.
Madden & Silance, a partnership between Thomas H. Madden and J. Clark Silance, worked in Fort Morgan during 1897.
J. Clark Silance was born in Ohio in April 1867.He grew up in Nebraska.By 1896, Silance settled in Fort Morgan, Colorado.Between May and August 1897, Silance traveled with T. H. Madden through eastern Colorado in Madden’s horse-drawn studio on wheels.After leaving Madden’s employment, Silance raised livestock.By the early 1920s, he lived in the Santa Monica area.On September 28, 1935, Silance suffered a fatal heart attack in an orchard in California’s River Farms district.
With thanks to Brian Mack, Museum Curator, Fort Morgan Library and Museum for providing research assistance and access to the museum’s collections, and The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research for providing travel funds.
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?
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.
GeorgeDalgleish 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.
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 ayoung 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.
One of my goals is to visit Colorado’s small libraries and museums to learn from their collections. In August I visited the northeastern corner of Colorado, a sparsely populated area comprised of farming and ranching communities, about 175 miles northeast of Denver.
My first stop was the Heginbotham Library in Holyoke. A former private home, now the local public library, has a small collection of local history books and a few photographs of the area.
My next stop was the Phillips County Museum in Holyoke, which holds a treasure trove of items related to local history, including items collected by local families–clothing, memorabilia, tableware and photographs. I found some surprisingly artistic photographs in their collection.
This post examines William Carder (W. C.) Powers, a photographer active in Holyoke for about 10 years between 1889 and 1899. Powers was born in Eddyville, Iowa in 1859 to William Carder Powers and Emily Jane (Blair) Powers.He worked as a machinist in Iowa before moving to York, Nebraska. He arrived in Holyoke in 1889, less than a year after the town was incorporated.
Powers plied his trade out of a photo car opposite the State Herald newspaper office, advertising his ability to make images of farms and dwellings. He touted his ability to process the photos in his own studio, rather than send them out of town to be finished. On March 8, 1889, The Herald announced that Powers was photographing prominent buildings in Holyoke for use by the board of trade. His photographs may have been used in a small booklet entitled, Holyoke and Phillips County. 1890 : The Metropolis of Northeastern Colorado. The Garden Spot of the Rain Belt Country … held by the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Powers sold individual photographs of the buildings for twenty-five cents.
In July 1889, Powers was awarded half interest in a patent for a camera attachment with Orlo L. Munger of Gresham, Nebraska.
Powers traveled between Colorado and Nebraska for his photographic work throughout the 1890s, setting up temporary workrooms in Venango, Grant and Wallace, Nebraska. By 1891, he also worked as a plumber in Holyoke and Grant. During the winter months, he repaired frozen water pipes and in the warmer weather he fixed water hydrants, improved hotel plumbing and sold lawn sprinklers and hose. By 1893, Powers was appointed Superintendent of the Water Works in Holyoke.
Although he lived in a rural area, Powers made sophisticated photographs. He captured the flooded streets of Holyoke after a big rain storm in June 1895, showing Dr. F. M. Smith, C. J. Slater and G. W. Shuler rowing a boat along the aptly named Inter Ocean Ave. He made two photographs, one horizontal, one vertical, of members of the Happy Hour Club showing the six women playing a table game. The women are standing in front of an elaborate painted backdrop.
Powers also photographed a posed medical scene, with a man uncomfortably lying on a table with two men administrating aid. The photographer used a reflecting screen, seen to the left of the patient’s feet, to boost the natural light coming into the studio. Also, notice the use of the same backdrop as seen in the Happy Hour group.
In 1899, Powers moved his family to Holdrege, Nebraska, 170 miles from Holyoke, where he opened a second studio. A year later he sold his Holyoke studio to Nicholas A. Linstrom from Edgar, Nebraska, although there is no proof Linstrom actually ever did open for business in that location. In 1901 Powers sold his Holdrege gallery and moved to Salt Lake City, before relocating permanently to Los Angeles. He opened a studio with H. A. Konold at 453-1/2 South Spring street. They specialized in developing for and printing photographs for amateurs and making lantern slides and souvenir postal cards. By 1910, Powers ran his own studio until his death on July 30, 1913.
My thanks to Carol Haynes and Hilda Hassler for their assistance in accessing the Phillips County Museum’s photo collections, Gretta Cox-Gorton, Library Assistant, American Antiquarian Society, Beverly Brannan, former Curator of Photography, Congress, and Karen Hendrix for her photographic expertise. This research trip was possible due to the generosity of the The Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research.
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.
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.
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.