A Gentleman and a No. 1 Artist: Pioneer Photographers Part 2

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

For Part 1 of this two-part series on Newton’s earliest photographers click here.

“A Gentleman and a No. 1 Artist”

The first photographer to advertise in the Newton Kansan was Charles Gillingham.  Gillingham was married in Leavenworth County, Ks on March 8, 1871.  By 1880 Gillingham is in Newton working as a photographer at the corner of Main St and Broadway.  His regular advertisements in the Newton Kansan guarantee satisfaction with the photographs or there will be no charge.  According to one ad, Gillingham had “more than four years of experience taking photographs in Washington City, D.C.”  His specialty was groups and baby pictures.
On August 12, 1880 disaster struck Gillingham.  At around twelve o’clock in the night, a coal oil lamp exploded in the adjacent Golden Gate newspaper office in Newton.  The resulting fire destroyed the building. Sadly, the photograph gallery belonging to C.L. Gillingham,
which stood at the southwest corner of the Gate office was, with its glassy contents, entirely demolished. . . . The loss to Mr. Gillingham is a rather serious one.  A large number of valuable negatives were entirely demolished which can never be replaced.” (Newton Kansan 12 August 1880, p.2)
Probably a great deal of Newton early history was destroyed that night.

Ready for Business Again

Gillingham did attempt to recover from the fire.  A week later, the Newton Kansan reported that he was erecting a 12 x 26 brick building at the corner of Main and Broadway.  The editor encouraged people to be supportive of “Charley, a gentleman and a No. 1 artist.” By August 26, he was “ready for business again in better shape than ever.”
Newton Kansan, 16 September 1880

After September 1880, the advertisements for Gillingham, “the shadow catcher”, no longer appear in the Kansan. Gillingham does not appear in the 1885 City Directory.  Only two photos in our collection have Gillingham’s mark on the back. Other than the Summer of 1871 photo, these are the earliest photos of Newton in the museum’s collection.

Identified as South Main Street. Looking north from the corner of 1st and Main, Newton Ks, pre-1875


North Main, Newton, Ks
Taken from just north of Broadway looking south. Old Masonic Temple along northeast corner of east Broadway & Main. pre-1880.


Although there are no definitive answers to ‘who’ took the “Summer of 1871” photo of Newton’s Main St., one possibility is Charles Gillingham, a photographer who was in Kansas in 1871. When he left Newton sometime in the fall of 1880, he may have left fellow photographer, F.D. Tripp, the negative.  Tripp then reprinted the photo, mounted it using his logo and in doing so, preserved this brief glimpse at Newton’s very beginnings.

Research Notes:
F.D. Tripp was quite hard to pin down. If we knew for certain his age in the summer of 1871, a clearer idea of who actually took the photo could be determined. Depending on which document is correct, his birth year is given as:

  • 1856 (1887 Harvey County Tax Rolls & 1947 Obituary); 1857 (1886 Harvey County Tax Rolls); 1858 (1870 Census);1859 (1880 Census); 1866 (1900 Census).

For the purposes of this blog post, a time span of roughly 1856-1858 was assumed for the birth year of F.D. Tripp.


  • Newton Kansan, 1872-1881.
  • Newton Kansan, 8 January 1880, p. 1
  • Newton Kansan, 12 August 1880, p. 2.
  • Newton Kansan, 19 August 1880, p. 2.
  • Newton Kansan, 26 August 1880, p. 3.
  • Newton Kansan, 16 September 1880, p. 2..
  • Evening Kansan-Republican, September 6, 1947, p.1.
  • Newton City Directories, 1885, 1887, 1902, HCHM Archives.
  • United States Census, 1870, 1880, 1900.
  • Newton Voter Registration Index 1882-1902, HCHM Archives.
  • Harvey County Marriage License Index, 1882, HCHM Archives.
  • Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, Vol. 27, Google Books, p. 382.

The Panorama Man: H.S. Stovall

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

View of Newton, Ks from the roof of the Opera House, taken by H.S. Stovall.

“Photography is history and in a book like the Semi-Centennial edition of the Kansan, the the contribution of this profession to its success is obvious.” -Editors of the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Kansan, 22 August 1922.

Harvey County was fortunate to be home to several talented photographers that documented the progress of  county communities through photographs. From the earliest photo taken in the summer of 1871 to today, HCHM has an extensive collection of images created by Harvey County photographers.

H. S. Stovall was one of several photographers active in the county in the early 1900s.  Born in Kentucky in 1872, Stovall moved with his parents to Missouri. He attended the Chillicothe Normal School and Business Institute located in Chillicothe, Mo.  While studying business at the college, Stovall became interested in photography. After he graduated, he “devoted his entire business energy to this profession.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 9 September 1909.

By 1909, this “progressive business man” had moved to Harvey County where he was “an earnest worker for the best interests of Newton.”


H. S. Stovall

He opened a gallery above Hanlin’s Department Store at 603 Main in Newton, Ks.  Stovall provided many of the images for the 1911 Souvenir publication “Newton, Ks: Past & Present, Progress & Prosperity.”

Panorama Photography

One focus of his work was on creating panoramas including one taken pre-1915 from the roof of the Opera House.

View of Newton, Ks from the roof of the Opera House, taken by H.S. Stovall.


Enlargement  looking east.

Enlargement looking north.

Large Groups Photos

He also was a popular photographer when the subject was a large group.

District Meeting. Church of the Brethren, 1015 Oak Newton, Ks. 1911 taken by H.S. Stovall.


McMannus Employee Picnic, June 11, 1914, Photo by Stovall.


1st Christian Church, Main & E 1st, Newton, 1918. Photo by Stovall.

Senior Photos

Florence Holmes, 1928.

NHS Class of 1922, by Stovall.


Janet Parris, 4 years old, 1916. Photo by Stovall.


Evening Kansan Republican, 19 August 1914.

In 1924, Stovall is listed on Socialist Ticket Presidential Electors, along with Reed Crandall from Newton, Ks.

Council Grove Republican, 24 July 1924.

He was an active photographer in the Newton community throughout the 1920s.

Evening Kansan Republican, 10 December 1920.

By the 1930s he is advertising in Dodge City, Kansas newspapers and the Catholic Advance.

The Independent, 9 July 1938.


Catholic Advance,9 February 1935.

The last advertisement that was found for this article was in the Catholic Advance January 16, 1942. Stovall would have been about 70 years old.

Catholic Advance, 16 January 1942.

If you have information on H.S. Stovall, contact HCHM.

Other Harvey County Photographers

Charles L. Gillingham, W.E. Langan, F.D. Tripp, W.R. Murphy,  Mrs. B.F. Denton.


  • Catholic Advance: 1 October 1929,  2 February 1931, 9 February 1935, 9 July 1938, 16 January 1942.
  • Council Grove Republican, 24 July 1924.
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 9 March 1909,   20 April 1909, 7 September 1909, 9 September 1909, 8 September 1910, 13 February 1913, 6 March 1913, 19 August 1914, 5 September 1914, 8 March 1916, 17 April 1917,  8 September 1917,  30 September 1918, 10 May 1920, 17 September 1920, 21 September 1920,  30 September 1920, 20 October 1920, 23 October 1920, 10 December 1920, 22 August 1922,1 September 1920.
  • The Independent: 27 July 1922,  2 November 1922.
  • Newton City Directories: 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919, 1931, 1934, 1938.
  • United States Census: 1900, 1910.
  • Kansas State Census: 1915.

Picture Man: William S. Prettyman

 by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

The culture of the Native Americans in the late 1880s and 90s was fascinating to white Euro-Americans, even as it was changing and disappearing. As a result, there was opportunity for photographers to open studios and sell prints of life in the West. The time period between 1875 and 1920 is sometimes called the “Golden Age of Western Photography.” One area of particular interest was focused on the live of Native Americans.

William S. Prettyman

One photographer was William S. Prettyman.  Born in Maryland in 1858, Prettyman first came to Emporia, Ks in 1879 “with 5 cents in his pocket.”

William S. Prettyman. Photo courtesy Prettyman, Don.  “William S. Prettyman: Frontier Phtographer.

He eventually made his way to Arkansas City, Ks where he apprenticed with I.H. Bonsall, a well-known Civil War photographer. In 1883, he made his first foray into Indian Territory in his cameras and other equipment in a custom built buggy pulled by oxen.

Custom built buggy for trips into Indian Territory. Photo courtesy Prettyman, Don.  “William S. Prettyman: Frontier Phtographer.

The Picture Man

This became an annual tradition and he quickly became known as “the Picture Man” among the Native Americans he met.  He made friends easily and was at first interested in the Osage tribe, but over the years his interested expanded to include the Ponca, Otoe, Iowa, Sac, Cheyenne, Arapahos, Shawnee, Cherokee and Pottawatomie. He was able to photograph many of the principal chiefs of the various groups.

In general, his work is described as “journalistic and documentary, rather than pictorial.” He “resented the acculturation” he observed and tried to document  customs and rituals. He wanted his photographs to show Native Americans “in their natural state of living, before civilization took them off of their land.” 

There are two photos taken by Prettyman in the Photo Collection at HCHM.

Photographer William S. Prettyman, n.d. HCHM Photo Collection.

Photographer William S. Prettyman, n.d. HCHM Photo Collection.

 Prints, like the ones above, were typically mounted on cabinet cards, boudoir cards, and stereographs and marketed to  tourists  and easterners who displayed the photos in their homes.

Cherokee Outlet

After about 10 years, Prettyman moved to Blackwell, Ok where served as mayor. He continued to take photographs.

In September 1893, the opening of the Cherokee Outlet, gave him the opportunity to take one of the  first motion photographs. To get  photographs of the action, he had to make plans well in advance and in secret. He hired men to build a 3 story platform near the starting point, but they were not told why.  Prettyman was also careful to stay away from the construction of the platform. All of his efforts to keep his plan a secret paid off. He was able to set up four cameras by the noon opening of the run.  He instructed his employees to “squeeze the bulbs of their camera at two-second intervals as soon as the race began.” Four photos were taken, since each camera could only take one picture. With everything set up and ready to go,  Prettyman decided to enter the land run himself and let his assistants take the photographs.

Opening of Cherokee Outlet or Cherokee Strip. Photo by William S. Prettyman, September 1893. Photo courtesy Prettyman, Don.  “William S. Prettyman: Frontier Phtographer.

Of the four photographs, one was destroyed because is was considered poor quality. One caught the moment the race began, another showed the slower wagons behind the horses and the final photo showed the racers fanning out. Prettyman’s photo of the opening  of the Cherokee Outlet “became one of the most famous images of that era.”

He reportedly made over 10,000 pictures over the length of his career.

In 1905, he sold the studio, including the negatives, to George W. Cornish and moved to California.  In California, he operated a wholesale drug business.

He died in California in 1932.


  • http://oklahomauniquelyamerican.com/materials/Book%20PDF/Prettyman.pdf
  • Prettyman, Don.  “William S. Prettyman: Frontier Phtographer at http://www.historiccamera.com/cgi-bin/librarium/pm.cgi?action=display&login=prettyman
  • http://blogs.baylor.edu/changing-expanse/william-s-prettyman/william-s-prettyman/
  • Drouin, Jeremy, “Photographing Native Americans in Oklahoma-Indian Territory, KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library at http://kchistory.org/research/research-guides/photographing-native-americans-oklahoma-indian-territory
  • http://blog.brokenclaw.net/archives/om-photo
  • John R. Lovett, “Prettyman, William S.,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed September 12, 2017).