THE influence of American photography upon the social and political growth of our country has never been traced, and for some years the writer has been accumulating facts and materials bearing upon this thesis. In making the search for such material, thousands of photographs have been examined and the importance of many of these photographs, as historic records, apart from their interest as illustrations of the development of photography, has been more and more impressed upon the writer. History, by means of photographs, is by no means new, and is well illustrated by that monumental series of volumes, The Photographic History of the Civil War. That this method has not been employed more extensively is surprising, and may be due, in part, to the lack of knowledge which the historian and writer possesses of the history of American photography.
To be specific, the photographs available in the Kansas State Historical Society as important historic evidence are practically unknown, even among professional historians. The particular object of this paper is not to present an exhaustive photographic history of the state, however, but to call attention to such material as it exists and to emphasize the importance of the photographic method of recording history and the value of adding similar material by donations from interested individuals who possess photographs of historic value.
The development of American photography may be briefly outlined by the following chronology:
Sept. 21, 1839 The beginning of photography in America
Feb. 19, 1856 Patent to H. L. Smith for tintype, variously known as melainotype and ferrotype.
1859 Introduction of carte de visite photographs in the United States.
1866 Introduction of cabinet photographs in the United States.
1880 Beginning of modern gelatin dry-plate photography.
1881 Patent issued to F. E. Ives for half-tone process.
From this table it is apparent that it would have been possible to have a complete photographic record of the development of our state from the early 1850's down to the present. A preliminary search for photographs of the 1850's and 1860's shows that photographs of individuals and scenes important in the development of the state have been made. How many are existent to-day is another question.
The earliest photographs taken in Kansas, which I have found mentioned as yet, were those made by S. N. Carvalho on Col. John C. Fremont's expedition of 1853 and 1854. Carvalho described his experiences with this expedition in a discursive book, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West, published by Derby and Jackson, New York, 1859. According to Carvalho, the first photographs of this expedition were made "near Westport, a few miles in the interior," on September 17 or 18, 1853. Whether "the interior" referred to lay in Kansas or Missouri is uncertain. If it were in Kansas the dates mentioned above may mark the beginning of photography in Kansas. In addition, it is interesting to note that, if this locality lay in Kansas, on these dates, without doubt, the first photographic contest in the state took place. It appears that Colonel Fremont had given a Mr. Bomar, also a "photographist," permission to accompany the expedition at least as far as Westport. Bomar made his photographs on waxed paper negatives, according to a process developed by the Englishman, Talbot. Carvalho secured his photographs as daguerreotypes. Fremont requested that at Westport both types of photographs be made so that he could choose between the processes. According to Carvalho, "In half an hour from the time the word was given my daguerreotype was made; but the photograph could not be seen until the next day, as it had to remain in water all night, which was absolutely necessary to develop it." Since much water and time were necessary for the paper negatives, Fremont decided to leave Mr. Bomar and his outfit at Westport, and Carvalho was chosen to accompany the expedition westward.
From the discussion it is evident that a number of daguerreotypes were made in Kansas by Carvalho. Unfortunately, although I have made an extended search, none of these daguerreotypes or their photographic copies appear to be extant to-day. They were probably destroyed by the fire in which the Fremonts lost many of their personal effects, as described by Mrs. Fremont in the introduction to Colonel Fremont's memoirs.
There are records of daguerreotypists working in Kansas slightly after this date. Among these may be mentioned Rankin, Needles, Barker and Gregg of Leavenworth, Boles and DaLee of Lawrence, and Hathaway, of Weston, Mo., all of wham practiced before 1860.
Surviving portrait daguerreotypes and ambrotypes made by these men in this period (1854-1860) are much more common than are photographs of views or incidents. Among the latter class there are two outstanding in the collections of the Kansas State Historical Society. The first of these is a daguerreotype view of a Free State battery, taken at Topeka in 1856. The daguerreotype, when found by the writer, was in a badly corroded condition, but by chemical treatment was restored so that it now constitutes an interesting and valuable historic record.
The photograph shows the cannoneers, their tent, ammunition and considerable landscape. This daguerreotype, I believe, is the earliest Kansas photograph in the collection of the Historical Society.
The second photograph, previously referred to, is an ambrotype of the Doy rescue party. This was made at Lawrence, in the summer of 1859, by A. G. DaLee.
That other view photographs of this period were made cannot be questioned. For example, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
for October 4, 1856, contains two woodcut prints of Kansas interest stated to have been copied from daguerreotypes. The first of these is a group of Free State prisoners, including Gov. Charles Robinson and John Brown, Jr., among others, which is stated to have been copied from a daguerreotype made for Mrs. Robinson. The second shows a broad panorama of Kansas landscape and is entitled "U. S. Troops, near Lecompton, Kansas, Guarding Free State Prisoners, from a daguerreotype made expressly for this paper." The originals of both of these valuable daguerreotypes, if still in existence, would be a welcome addition to the records of the Kansas State Historical Society.
During the sixties of the Civil War I have little information as yet of photographic interest. The number of photographers in the state was doubtless increasing, and many photographs were doubtless taken, of which some surely have survived. The only one with which the writer is familiar is a view of Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, in the early sixties. It is of considerable interest, as it shows an emigrant train, pulled by the familiar oxen of the period, headed west through the main street of the town. This photograph is well known in the state as it was reproduced lithographically in postcard form some twenty-five or thirty years ago.
The development of western railroads at the close of the Civil War naturally focussed attention upon the West and its appearance, and demand was made for authentic photographs of this portion of the country. As a result, a number of photographers came west. I will describe the work of only one of these photographers, as it is of especial interest to Kansans.
The photographer in question was Alexander Gardner of Washington, D. C. Gardner was a Scotchman brought to this country in the fifties by Mathew B. Brady, without doubt the most widely known photographer this country has produced.
Gardner achieved considerable reputation in his own right. as a photographer and in 1863 opened his own gallery in Washington, D. C., and is probably best known from several excellent photographs of Lincoln. Gardner also followed the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War.
1. Fort Leavenworth (No. 51 in the Gardner series), showing clearly the very extensive nature of this military establishment which was the supply depot for many frontier outposts and expeditions.
2. Massachusetts street, Lawrence, five years after the Quantrill raid (No. 34 of the Gardner series).
3. The University of Kansas when two years old. The Kaw river is seen to the left of the building and a part of the town of Lawrence to the right (No. 38 in the Gardner series).
4. Walnut street, Ellsworth. The town in its infancy, for it was not more than a year or two old when this photograph (No. 143 of the Gardner series) was made.
5. Manhattan, (No. 96 of the Gardner series).
6. The Union Pacific, E. D., under construction-the end of the track, twenty- miles west of Hays when photographed (No. 152 of the Gardner series).
7. Poyntz avenue, Manhattan, looking west (No. 97 of the Gardner series).
In 1868 Gardner came west and obtained a number of photographs along the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, which at that time was under construction in Kansas.
The Kansas State Historical Society is fortunate enough to possess a fairly complete set of these photographs in the form of stereographs, the individual prints of which are approximately three inches square. Gardner, however, as was quite common in the expeditionary photography of that day, also made larger photographs (8" x 10" and 11" x 14", see Reference 14) in addition to the stereoscopic views. It is unfortunate that none of these are in the archives of the Society.
As these Gardner photographs depict towns, scenes and institutions of this state some sixty-five years ago they constitute an exceedingly important set of historical documents. In fact, the writer regards this set as the most valuable, historically, of all the fifteen thousand photographs possessed by the Kansas State Historical Society.
While nearly the entire set deserves reproduction in some form in which they could become better known to the citizens of the state, the expense of such an undertaking is at present prohibitive. In lieu of such reproduction the writer has compiled a detailed catalogue of the Gardner set, so that the set may become better known. While it is realized that a catalogue is not exciting reading, yet I venture to say that if anyone interested in Kansas history reads the entire compilation he will be astonished to find that such photographs exist, and a desire will be created to see the actual prints themselves. In the event that the reader is fortunate enough to view these series it is recommended that they be examined stereoscopically. The stereoscope produces a sense of perspective and reality that the flat prints do not possess. In addition, stereoscopic
8 THE KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
examination eliminates in a considerable measure many of the defects, both photographic and mechanical, which the prints possess.
IN THE POSSESSION OF
THE KANSAS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The collection numbers some 150 different views. They all bear, on the reverse side from the prints, the following information: "From Gardner's Photographic Art Gallery, 511 Seventh street, Washington. Across the Continent on the Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division." In addition, they bear a serial number, the title, and a distance expressed in miles "west of St. Louis, Mo." The catalogue given below gives Gardner's serial number (all are called by Gardner, "Class D"), the title with Gardner's spelling, and the number of miles west from St. Louis, which for the sake of brevity is expressed simply as the number of miles. This series of stereoscopic views was acquired by purchase by the Kansas State Historical Society in 1930 from Miss Crete Rose, of Lanham, Md. Miss Rose stated that this set of views had been in her family since her father's childhood.
Discussion of each of the stereographs listed above would carry us too far afield from the object of the present paper. As a matter
THE KANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
of fact, a detailed discussion of each picture and the ramifications it suggests would eventually lead to an exhaustive history of the state in 1868. The opportunity, however, is too good to be passed over completely, and, accordingly, a few will be selected for such comments as occur to the author.
In the first place, it is evident that Gardner did not confine himself to his trip along the main line of the Union Pacific, E. D., alone. Side trips to Leavenworth and the country between Leavenworth and Lawrence (Nos. 48 to 71) ; to Lecompton (Nos. 76 to 81) ; as well as the excursions from Fort Harker (Nos. 129 to 138), are the most noticeable of these.
In addition it is quite evident that Gardner viewed the country with the eyes of an easterner. His titles suggest this many times for the broad sweep of prairie and plain evidently impressed him. For example, "View embracing twelve miles of prairie," etc. (No. 61), and the comment "The extreme distance is five miles off" (No. 122) show this quite clearly.
The animals of the country, prairie dogs especially, attracted his attention, for he made a number of attempts to photograph them at Abilene (Nos. 116 to 119) ; the unusual geologic and archaeologic ffeatures near Fort Harker (Nos. 129 to 138) were also of interest.
To the student of the cattle trade (No. 115) "Loading Cattle at MacCoy's Stockyard, Abilene," should be of interest; to the student of railroads many are of interest. Number 32, for example, shows an engine and coal car of the Leavenworth, Lawrence, and Galveston R. R., with a group of men. A close examination of the coal car (better, "wood" car) shows that "Ottawa" is printed in large letters. Apparently it was so called in honor of the town of Ottawa, as this road between Lawrence and Ottawa was opened to travel January 1, 1868.
Of photographic significance we have numbers 28, 591/2, and 1041/2, all of which, in addition to other points of interest, show Gardner's dark room. Gardner, of course, employed the wet process for making his negatives. Consequently, along with all other photographers of this period, he carried his dark room with him, as it was necessary to prepare the plates immediately before use, 'to expose them while still wet (hence the name "wet process") and to develop them before they became dry-quite a different story from our modern procedure. Exposures were also much longer
than are required for modern photographic materials, 5 to 30 seconds probably being required for his wet plates. The slow speed of the negatives is apparent in the movement of figures during the course of exposure in quite a number of the prints.
One further observation of these photographs must suffice. A comparison of the photographs of the main streets of Leavenworth, Lawrence and Topeka (Nos. 53, 34, and 86) show visually, as is already well known, the relative development and size of these towns. The population data given below supplement this visual information.
It would be extremely interesting and instructive if there were available photographs of such Kansas localities as the Gardner series taken at more or less regular intervals. Such photographs show not only the structural and social development of the towns of the state, but also depict in unmistakable manner the growth of physical features. For instance, the writer possesses a series of four photographs (taken from approximately the same location) over a span of sixtyfive years, which show in a most remarkable manner the growth of trees in Lawrence. The first of these is a view of the town of Lawrence taken by Gardner in 1868 (No. 36) and shows the town as practically treeless.
The second of the series, taken by W. H. Lamon of Lawrence, some ten or twelve years later shows young trees well started. The third (photographer unknown) taken about 1890 shows the further growth of the trees and the last taken in the summer of 1933 from the same locality shows little but a sea of leaves and branches.
In my judgment it would be extremely worthwhile to seek other photographs showing similar developments. There are other photographs of the period with which I have been dealing probably existent. For example, Dr. William A. Bell and Maj. A. H. Calhoun, of Washington, made a series of photographs along the Union Pacific through Kansas in 1867, Robert Benecke of St. Louis was over the same ground, taking a number of 8 x 10 views in 1874;
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W. H. Lamon, of Lawrence, photographed extensively over the. eastern part of the state in the sixties, seventies and eighties; probably the most widely known of the early Kansas photographers was Capt. J. Lee Knight, of Topeka, who apparently ranged over the entire state, and even west into Colorado, taking a large number of views during the early seventies.
In the last place, the suggestion might be made that even though we have an incomplete photographic record of the state at present, it would be possible to assemble representative Kansas views of several hundred photographs at periods of, say, ten years, thus preserving in authentic and facsimile fashion evidence of changes in the state. Such photographs, to be of the greatest comparative value, should be taken from the same location, should be dated, the subject inscribed, and catalogued.
1. The present paper is a revision of an illustrated lecture presented by the author at the annual meeting of the Kansas State Historical Society, October 17 1988, under the title, "A Pictorial History of Early Kansas." The author is indebted to Dr. F. C. Gates, editor of the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science for permission to use the plate which accompanies this article. The plate was originally published in the Transactions, v. ]=VI, pp. 88-40 (1938), under the title "Old Photographs-A Review of American Photography in the Period 1889-1880" written by the author of the present article.
2. The data upon which this table is based have been obtained by the writer through an extensive examination of the scientific, photographic, and patent literature of the period, and will be discussed in detail in a forthcoming publication.
3. Kansas Weekly Herald, Leavenworth, March 9, 1866.
4. Information from a lithograph published in 1857 ; now in Lawrence room, University of Kansas library.
5. Leavenworth City Directory, 1869-1880, p. 22.
6. A. G. Dates was a pioneer photographer of Lawrence, beginning business there in 1858. He was wounded in the Quantrill raid and left Lawrence for several years following the raid He eventually returned and practiced his profession in Lawrence until his death. He died while on a vacation at Colorado Springs, Colo., on August 4, 1879. (Lawrence Daily Journal, August 8, 1879.) Thanks are due Mrs. A. P. Fey, of Lawrence, a daughter of Mr. DaLee for a portion of the above information. The Philadelphia Photographer, v. XVI p. 287 (1879), In announcing Mr. DeLee's death, states that he was "considered the best photographer west of the Mississippi, se well as a man of sterling character." The first advertisement of J. Boles appears in the Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, December b, 1857.
7. Hathaway's first advertisement appeared in the Kansas Weekly Herald, Leavenworth, November 8, 1854. As Weston was across the river from Fort Leavenworth, Hathaway must have been patronized by the early citizens of Leavenworth, se well as the soldiers from Fort Leavenworth, and may even have come into Kansas to do photographic work.
8. Date and description from the record furnished by the donor of the daguerreotype.
9. For an account of the Doy rescue see J. B. Abbott, Kansas Historical Collections, v. IV, p. 312.
10. Theodore Gardner, Kansas Historical Collections, v. XVII p. 851. Gardner refers to the photograph as "an odfashioned daguerreotype." Ambrotypes are frequently mistaken for daguerreotypes.
11. Lanier Reviews of Reviews, v. XLIII, p. 307 (1911).
12. The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, F. H. Meserve. Privately printed, New York, 1911.
13. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, v. 1 and 2. Philip and Solomon's, Washington, D. C., publishers, no date. The Library of Congress copy bears the accession date of 1868.
14. The date is established by two facts: 1. No. 152 of the Gardner series (see catalogue included in this paper) shows the end of the track "600 miles west of St. Louis." As Hays City was "680 miles west of St. Louis" this would place the end of the road 20 miles west of Hays at the time the photograph was taken. According to "The Kansas Pacific," by Virginia B. Ream (Master's thesis, University of Kansas, 1920), the Union Pacific, Eastern Division, was at Hays City id the spring of 1868, p 32. 2. Gardner's photographic expedition to ansas was described in the Philadelphia Photographer, v. V, p. 129 (1868). The item reads: "A very interesting collection was shown (to the Philadelphia Photographic Society) taken on the line of Union Pacific Railway, Eastern Division, by Mr. A. Gardner of Washington, D. C., and were loaned by Mr. Josiah C. Reiff, of Piladelphia. The sizes range from 8 x 10 to 11 x 14, and include Fort Harker, Fort iley, Abilene, Junction City, Salina, and other towns of Kansas. Many of them are views of the Plains. Thanks were tendered Mr. Josiah C. Reiff of U. P. R. W., E. D."
15. Ream (cf. Reference 14) states that the original name of this railroad was "The Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western R. R." In 1863 it was changed to "The Union Pacific Railroad, Eastern Division." Eastern Division in order to distinguish it from its northern competitor. In 1868, it was changed to "The Kansas Pacific Railroad." In 1880, it became part of the Union Pacific Railroad System and is now known to Kansans simply as "The Union Pacific."
16. A. T. Andreas, History of the State of Kansas (Chicago, 1883), p. 339. Coffeyville was apparently the nearest this road approached Galveston. It is now part of the Santa Fe system and is called locally the "Ottawa branch."
17. Courtesy of Mr. L. E. Truesdall chief statistician for population, U. S. Census Bureau. The figures are from the official federal censuses for years tabulated.
18. The Philadelphia Photographer, v. IV, p. 266 (1867); Harper's Weekly, v. XT, p. 488
(1867). See also New Tracks in North America, by W. A. Bell, Chapman and Hall, London, 1809.
19. The Philadelphia Photographer, v. XI, p. 160 (1874).
20. W. H. Lamon was trained as a photographer by his brother-in-law, A. G. DaLee, already mentioned. Lamon practiced for himself in Lawrence from 1865 to 1886, when he removed to California, where he died in 1895. Information from A. T. Andreas, History of the State of Kansas, p. 889, and Mrs. A. P. Fey, of Lawrence, a niece of Mr. Lamon.
21. Captain Knight came to Topeka August 6, 1867 and established one of the earl photographic galleries in Topeka (Topeka Capital, July 1, 1915.) He became count clerk (Shawnee county) in 1875 and apparently gave up his active practice of photography after that time. Captain Knight's name appears frequently by mention and as contributor in the photographic journals of the early seventies. He was a vice-president of the National Photographic Association in 1870.--The Philadelphia Photographer, v. V11, p. 241 (1870).