I came across some more Scott photos and tried to find out more about him.
George W. Scott established a photographic studio in Deadwood from 1883 – 1887, although a Charles Kersting* took over one branch (?) of his business in 1884. We can see several studio backdrops in his work. Presumably the fancier backdrop was in his Deadwood studio and the cruder backdrops may well belong to his mobile/temporary studio at Fort Yates. I can’t remember where I read this, but I’m sure the tipi backdrop dates from 1884/85 at the earliest and at least one of the existing photos has the date 1888 on it – of course, the date could have been added later.
We have a note by Scott naming several notables of the day that he photographed: Rain in the Face, Sitting Bull, Big Head, Mad Bear, Grass, Wolf Necklace ("decorated with 9 scalps"), Gall, Long Dog, Hairy Chin, Mrs Two Bear, Scarlet Woman, “a miniture [sic] of Sitting Bull’s Ghost Dance,” and others in native dress, dance costumes etc…
Looking at this bio, it would seem that he didn’t start in the photography business until 1883 and that he was out of it by the end of 1887 – except that he entered the signal service and spent time at, amongst other places, Deadwood, Yankton, Bismarck and Fort Yates before quitting and opening another studio at Lander. However, it’s clear he was an active photographer during this interim period because he was making images around Standing Rock, including Scarlet Woman, the Messiah’s mother.
GEORGE W. SCOTT
Born and reared at Georgetown. District of Columbia, on the banks of the historic Potomac, where the life of the nation centers, and which was during the Civil War an almost unbroken line of battle, having served his country in the signal corps and weather bureau in many places, George W. Scott of this service and an artistic photographer at Lander, has a wide and varied experience. His birth occurred on March 21, 1854, a son of John and Sarah C. (Bingey) Scott, the father a native of Washington, D. C, and the mother of New Jersey, the father being a prominent merchant in the Federal City, where he died in 1897 at the age of eighty, his wife having preceded him to the grave in 1863, when she was but thirty-six. Of their eight children, but two are living, John T., an honored official in the National Museum at Washington, and George W., who was educated in the public schools of the District of Columbia, and with a course of business training at Duff's Commercial College at Pittsburg, Pa. Later he worked in the glass factories at Pittsburg, making good wages, although he was but fifteen years old, and learned the painter's trade, at which he worked for five years. He then joined the U. S. signal service, and after passing through its school of instruction he was stationed successively at Pittsburg, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Duluth, Bismark, N. D.; Fort Bennett and Deadwood, S. D., where he quit the service and engaged in the photograph business in 1883. He passed four years in the business in that city, and then reentering the signal service was stationed at Omaha for seven months and thereafter at Deadwood until that station was abandoned in 1888, when he was sent to Bismark, then to Fort Yates, N. D., for three years, and from there in 1891 to reopen the abandoned station at Yankton and take charge of the weather bureau at that place, where he remained three years, going thence to Des Moines, Iowa, for a short time and finally in 1894 coming to Lander as the head of the bureau of that brisk young city. Soon after coming here he started a photographic business and leased the telegraph line and has conducted both of these establishments almost continuously since then. He has the only photograph gallery for the patronage of Lander and many miles of adjacent territory, and by his skill and attention to business has secured a large and profitable trade. He is a progressive and enterprising man, earnestly devoted to the welfare of his country, and finding its best security in the proper administration of local affairs, in these he takes great interest. He is president of the city board of education, an officer in the National Guard of the state, being the captain of Co. B, and the popular observer of the Lander weather bureau. He belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen in Yankton and to the Woodmen of the World in Lander. On January 12, 1885, he was married at Deadwood with Miss Kittie A. Wilson, a daughter of James A. and Sarah M. (Edwards) Wilson, natives of Michigan. They have five children, Lee E., George E., James, Ruth A. and Lew. Both parents are active members of the Methodist Episcopal church and Mr. Scott is a gentleman of property, a progressive and enlightened citizen, a faithful and capable official, an accomplished artist, the family being welcome additions to all social circles. His residence on Lincoln street is one of the comfortable and attractive homes of the town.
The photo of Sitting Bull in the hat remains a contentious issue, because there are claims that it was taken by RL Kelly in 1883 when Sitting Bull stopped off in Pierre. It has been pointed out that the man in the photo looks considerably older than other photos of Sitting Bull from around this time and the Kelly photos of Indians that are existent are long shots, whereas this would fit with the series of portraits Scott made of various Lakota leaders. Moreover, press reports at the time of Kelly’s photograph state that Sitting Bull was wearing a white shirt. In this photo, he wears a hat, a Metis-style floral-beaded jacket and a plaid shirt. There was a claim that Sitting Bull never wore a hat until he received one from Buffalo Bill during their tour in 1885, but there is a report noting he wore a military hat decorated with feathers for a meeting with the staff at Fort Yates in 1881.
"COWAN'S AUCTIONS with his Fort Yates, North Dakota, imprint. Title appears stamped in purple ink below image.
This documents one of the more curious incidents associated with the Ghost Dance period on the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota. In early November 1890, Agency police arrested Scarlet Woman (Waluta Winyan), wife of Bird Beak (Zintka Poga), for claiming to be the mother of the risen Christ. Agent McLaughlin, an ardent Catholic, was scandalized by her claim and had her hauled before the tribal court and Chief Judge John Grass. Widely reported in the press, her claims about the Ghost Dance alarmed both Agent McLaughlin and U.S. Army officials who saw it as portending an uprising which might be led by the renowned Sitting Bull, in whose camp Ghost Dancing was occurring. Four weeks after this news report, McLaughlin issued the order to arrest Sitting Bull, resulting in the chief’s assassination on December 15, 1890. In this portrait, apparently made just prior to or immediately after her appearance before the tribal court, Scarlet Woman is seated in a chair placed outside behind a building at the Agency.
The rocks piled at the right have been used in a sweatlodge ceremony, one of the seven sacred rites of the Lakota People. They would be heated red-hot in a fire, carried into the low, covered structure, and then water dashed on them to produce a cleansing steam. The deer antlers were used to manipulate the hot rocks. This is an indication that the adjacent building may have been the tribal courthouse, for the Sioux officials would traditionally have purified themselves before sitting in judgement. George W. Scott Cabinet Card of the Mother of Messiah, Lot #: 398"
Allegedly, the earliest of the Scott photos - and I have seen only a few. White Bull and Long Dog seem to have aged considerably from their Anderton and Morrow photographs that must have been taken within the previous ten years. Another point is that I wonder if some of the portrait series have this same backdrop but the focus on the face has led to the backdrop being obscured - although this doesn't seem to be the case with the photo of Gall. I'm not sure if cameras worked that way at the time, anyway...
There are more ornate backdrops in some of Scott's photos, presumably in town-based commercial studios. These photos usually feature white people, but there are a couple of Indian images - or a handful I have come across so far...
A member of the 8th Cavalry around 1890
Mad Bear's family
Unidentified with white boy
Presumably from the same sitting. If I recall correctly, I downloaded this with the image below - they were a series related to Sitting Bull's murder - so it may be based on a Scott photo too:
Beef issue at Standing Rock - you can see the steam rising from the butchered animals in the cold air
Paul Elk's tipi
Red Tomahawk - presumably taken after Sitting Bull's murder
Issuing chairs at Standing Rock
Sioux camp at Standing Rock
Sadly, I couldn't get decent enlarged images of these photos
A re-staging of the arrest of Sitting Bull This one makes me wonder whether Scott took the other photos of Sitting Bull's cabin after his death.
Scarlet Woman, wife of Bird Beak
"This documents one of the more curious incidents associated with the Ghost Dance period on the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota. In early November 1890, Agency police arrested Scarlet Woman (Waluta Winyan), wife of Bird Beak (Zintka Poga), for claiming to be the mother of the risen Christ. Agent McLaughlin, an ardent Catholic, was scandalized by her claim and had her hauled before the tribal court and Chief Judge John Grass. Widely reported in the press, her claims about the Ghost Dance alarmed both Agent McLaughlin and U.S. Army officials who saw it as portending an uprising which might be led by the renowned Sitting Bull, in whose camp Ghost Dancing was occurring. Four weeks after this news report, McLaughlin issued the order to arrest Sitting Bull, resulting in the chief's assassination on December 15, 1890. In this portrait, apparently made just prior to or immediately after her appearance before the tribal court, Scarlet Woman is seated in a chair placed outside behind a building at the Agency.
The rocks piled at the right have been used in a sweatlodge ceremony, one of the seven sacred rites of the Lakota People. They would be heated red-hot in a fire, carried into the low, covered structure, and then water dashed on them to produce a cleansing steam. The deer antlers were used to manipulate the hot rocks. This is an indication that the adjacent building may have been the tribal courthouse, for the Sioux officials would traditionally have purified themselves before sitting in judgement."
I came across an inventory of photographs from the George Ingram Foster collection in the State Historical Society of North Dakota archives in which many of the titles correlate to Scott's photos. Some, however, are by Barry and HB Perry:
00160-01 Honorable Charles Foster 00160-02 Mad Bear, Bismarck (DT) 00160-03 John Grass, Bismarck (DT) 00160-04 Walking Cow, Bismarck (DT) 00160-05 Mad Bear's family, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-06 Pretty Voice (Ho Washta), Fort Yates (DT) 00160-07 Hairy Chin, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-08 Mad Bear, Fort Yates (ND) 00160-09 Big Head, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-10 White Bull, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-11 Mrs. Two Bears, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-12 Pass By - Flying By, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-13 Kills the Enemy, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-14 Yellow Horn and Long Wolf, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-15 White Head and Charger, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-16 Mrs. Pass By and her sister, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-17 Ike, Sioux Indian, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-18 Hand to Hand, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-19 Taking a scalp, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-20 Standing Rock Monument, Fort Yates (DT) 00160-21 Iron Nation, Crow of Lower Brule Agency (SD) 00160-22 Big Man 00160-23 Standing Elk, Cheyenne Chief 1880 00160-24 No Flesh, Ogallala Chief 00160-25 Two young Indian Girls, one with sheep hook; 00160-26 Unidentified Indian man lying on the ground 00160-27 Indian Tipi settlement with white man giving cup to young boy
Makes me wonder if Mrs Pass By and her sister doesn't refer to the photo of the two women against the tipi backdrop. Not all those with Fort Yates or Bismarck after the titles would appear to be Scott's work. I think Walking Cow is the Barry photo - unless one by Scott turns up.
Last Edit: Jun 4, 2017 11:53:11 GMT -5 by grahamew