Chief Tecopa – Peacemaker of the Paiutes

Chief Tecopa – Peacemaker of the Paiutes is Nevada State Historic Marker number 171 and located in Nye County, Nevada. The monument is located at his graveside in Chef Tecopa Cemetery in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada. Tecopa (c. 1815–1904)  was a Native American leased of the Southern Nevada tribe of the Paiute of the Ash Meadows and Pahrump areas.

Chief Tecopa, very early 1900s.
Tecopa, very early 1900s.

Tecopa, who’s name means wildcat, along with several other warriors joined Kit Carson and John C. Fremont in the battle of Resting Springs which lasted for three days.

Tecopa maintained peaceful relations with the white settlers to the region and was known as a peacemaker. He often wore a bright red band suit with gold braid and a silk top hat. These clothes are replaced by local white miners when the clothes wore out. This gesture is in gratitude for Tecopa’s help in maintaining peaceful relations with the Paiute.

Tecopa is buried with his son and grandson at the Chief Tecopa Cemetery in the Pahrump Valley, Nevada.

Nevada State Historic Marker Text

Chief Tecopa was a young man when the first European Americans came to Southern Nevada. As a leader among the Southern Paiutes, he fought with vigor to save their land and maintain a traditional way of life. He soon realized if his people were to survive and prosper, he would have to establish peace and live in harmony with the foreigners.

During his life, which spanned almost the entire nineteenth century, his time and energy were devoted to the betterment of his people until his death here in Pahrump Valley.

Chief Tecopa is honored for the peaceful relations he maintained between the Southern Paiutes and the settlers who came to live among them.

STATE HISTORICAL MARKER NO. 171
STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
CALIFORNIA & NEVADA DEVELOPMENTORGANIZATION

Nevada State Historic Marker Summary

NameChief Tecopa – Peacemaker of the Paiutes
LocationPahrump, Nye County, Nevada
Nevada State Historic Marker171
Latitude, Longitude36.2091, -115.9895

Nevada State Historic Marker Location

References

George Benjamin Wittick – Photographer

George Benjamin Wittick was born in Pennsylvania and later moved to Illinois, and then out west in 1878 to pursue frontier photography. He served in the Civil War for the union using the name “Benjamin Wallace” in Company A of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Cavalry and Company D of the 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Cavalry, from 1862 to 1865. He first worked for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroads before establishing his first photography studio in Gallup, New Mexico.

George Benjamin Wittick
George Benjamin Wittick

During his career, he photographed many subjects to include the railroad; southwestern landscapes such as Canyon de Chelly, the Navajo Reservation, and Pueblo scenes; and the Native peoples mostly the Apache, Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni. Wittik was the first person to photograph the Hopi Snake Dance. An elder warned him at the time that he would die from a snake bite for witnessing the ceremony and not being an initiated member.

His photographs from this event brought the Hopi religious ritual great attention. 

George Benjamin Wittick - Self Portrait
George Benjamin Wittick – Self Portrait

He carried with him a collection of props for his photographs to include rifles, pistols, blankets, pottery, and more. Most of his photographs were taken outside using the natural sunlight against backdrops.

Geronimo (Goyathlay, 1820–1909), a Chiricahua Apache; full-length, kneeling with rifle, 1887 - Photograph George Benjamin Wittick
Geronimo (Goyathlay, 1820–1909), a Chiricahua Apache; full-length, kneeling with rifle, 1887 – Photograph George Benjamin Wittick

Billy The Kid

Easily, Wittick’s most famous photograph is of Henry McCarty, AKA Billy the Kidd, in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The image is the only known image of the outlaw to be identified by those who knew him. The image It shows the outlaw dressed in a rumpled hat and ragged clothes, which include a bulky sweater. He’s is holding a Winchester carbine on his right side and a Colt revolver holstered on his left side. Two of these tintypes were produced. One is given to Paulita Maxwell, the kids girlfriend, and the other to friend Dan Dedrick. The last time this original is auctioned, it sold to William Koch for 2.3 million dollars.

Henry McCarty - AKA Billy the Kid - Fort Sumner, New Mexico, 1879 - 80 Tintype by George Benjamin Wittick
Henry McCarty – AKA Billy the Kid – Fort Sumner, New Mexico, 1879 – 80 Tintype by George Benjamin Wittick

It was taken by a traveling photographer who came through Fort Sumner [New Mexico] in 1880. Billy posed for it standing in the street near old Beaver Smith’s saloon. I never liked the picture. I don’t think it does Billy justice. It makes him look rough and uncouth. The expression of his face was really boyish and very pleasant. He may have worn such clothes as appear in the picture out on the range, but in Fort Sumner he was careful of his personal appearance and dressed neatly and in good taste.

Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo, the Kid’s girlfriend – 1920’s

In 1900, he established his last studio at Fort Wingate. In 1903. he decided to return to visit the Hopi Snake Dance. As a gesture of friendship towards the Hopu, he captured a rattlesnake to bring to as a gift. While handling the snake, he is bitten on the thumb on August 8, 1903 and died three weeks later at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, just as the Hopi elder had predicted many years earlier.

References

Camillus Sydney Fly – Tombstone Photographer

Camillus Sydney Fly was a photographer and eyewitness to one of the most notorious gunfights in western history. Camillus Sidney Fly was born in Andrew County, Mo., in 1849. Later that same year, Boone and Mary Fly crossed the prairie to Napa County, California with their infant son. On September 29th, 1879 he married Mary “Mollie” Goodrich, a photographer in her own right, and just a few months later, arrived in Tombstone Arizona.

C. S. Fly's Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona
C. S. Fly’s Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona
Historical photo of Ike Clanton in 1881 by photographer Camillus S. Fly, Tombstone, Arizona Territory.
Historical photo of Ike Clanton in 1881 by photographer Camillus S. Fly, Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

Fly arrived to Tombstone Arizona in December 1879 and established, Fly’s Photography Gallery, on Fremont Street. Like many new arrivals, his first shelter was a tent, which the couple lived in while the photography studio and 12 room boarding house are built at 312 Fremont Street. Fly did some prospecting in the nearby Dragoon Mountains, but relied on the Gallery and boardinghouse next to it for income.

While in Tombstone, Mollie would take indoor portraits of the townspeople, while Buck’s photographic subjects tended towards outdoor photographs of mills, soldiers, ranchers and scenic panoramas. Regardless of photographer almost at almost all of their photographs were credited to C.S. Fly.

Destiny arrived for the Fly’s about 3:00 pm on October 26th, 1881. A long running feud between the Earp’s and McLaury/Clantons lead to the most iconic gunfight in western history, the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. For students of history, the gunfight actually occurred near the O. K. Corral in a vacant lot next to Fly’s Gallery. Ike Clanton famously hide in Fly’s gallery during the gunfight and Mr. Camillus Sydney Fly disarmed a dying Billy Clanton with a Henry Rifle in the aftermath of the fight.

We four started through Fourth to Fremont Street. When we turned the comer of Fourth and Fremont we could see them standing near or about the vacant space between Fly’s photograph gallery and the next building west. I first saw Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury, Billy Clanton and Sheriff Behan standing there. We went down the left-hand side of Fremont Street.

Statement of Wyatt S. Earp
in the Preliminary  Hearing in the Earp-Holliday Case,
Heard before Judge Wells Spicer – November 16, 1881

Geronimo’s Surrender

Geronimo poses with members of his tribe and General George Crook's staff during peace negotiations on March 27, 1886. - Photograph by C.S. Fly
Geronimo poses with members of his tribe and General George Crook’s staff during peace negotiations on March 27, 1886. – Photograph by C.S. Fly

In March, 1886, General George Cook is notified that the Apache Leader Geronimo agreed to meet. The meeting is arranged at Cañon de los Embudos about eighty six miles from Fort Bowie. Fly learned of this meeting and quickly attached himself to the military column. During the negotiations with Geronimo, C. S. Fly took about fifteen exposures on 8 x 10 inch glass plates. After three days of negotiations, Geronimo agreed to terms of surrender and returned to his camp across the Mexican border.

That night, while in his camp, a U. S. solder who supplied the Apache camp with whiskey, bragged that Geronimo and his followers would be attacked and killed as soon as they crossed the U. S. border. Geronimo and his thirty nine follows left camp that night. The U. S. army pursed Geronimo and his band until September 4, 1886 when, exhausted they surrendered.

Later in life…

In 1887 Fly traveled to Mexico to photograph the aftereffects of an earthquake in Bavispe. The same year, he toured the Arizona Territory to exhibit his photographic works of the area. He and his wife moved to Phoenix in 1893, where they opened another studio. The Flys returned to Tombstone after a year in Phoenix, and in 1895 C.S. Fly was elected to a two-year term as a Cochise County Sheriff.

C. S. Fly's Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona on fire 1912, Photograph by Mary "Mollie" Fly
C. S. Fly’s Photography Gallery, Tombstone, Arizona on fire 1912, Photograph by Mary “Mollie” Fly


When his term as a sheriff expired, Fly retired to his ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains, where he spent his remaining days. He died in Bisbee on October 12, 1901, at the age of 51. His remains were interred at the Tombstone Cemetery.

In 1912, his photography studio burns in Tombstone, Arizona. Ever the professional, Mollie documents the destruction of a warehouse of lost western photographic history, with a dramatic photograph.

References

Timothy H. O’Sullivan – Photographer

CDV of Timothy H. O'Sullivan with imprint of F.G. Ludlow, Carson City, Nevada Territory on verso. Taken between 1871–74 while O'Sullivan was the official photographer for the Wheeler Expedition.
CDV of Timothy H. O’Sullivan with imprint of F.G. Ludlow, Carson City, Nevada Territory on verso. Taken between 1871–74 while O’Sullivan was the official photographer for the Wheeler Expedition.

Timothy H. O’Sullivan (c. 1840 – January 14, 1882) was a photographer best known for of the Civil War and the western United States. O’Sullivan began his photography career as an apprentice in Mathew Brady’s Fulton Street gallery in New York City. He moved on to the Washington, D.C., branch managed by Alexander Gardner. In 1861. At the age of twenty-one, O’Sullivan joined Brady’s team of Civil War photographers.

Little is known about his early life. He was either born in Ireland or New Work City. As a teenager, Timothy was employed by Matthew Brady where he learn the newly invented craft of photography. When the Civil War broke out, he is commission as a first lieutenant in the Union Army, in 1861.

After the was, in 1867, Timothy H. O’Sullivan is hired by Clarence King to accompany the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel as a photographer. O’Sullivan was with the Survey for the seasons of 1867, 1868, 1869 and 1872.

During these expeditions, he is known to carry two or possibly three camera outfits which include a 9″x12″ and 8″x1O” plates and for stereoscopic views. He developed the plates in the field, as was necessary with the wet plate process, and worked in either a photographic tent or a mule-drawn ambulance wagon. The negatives were usually sent back to the Survey offices in Washington D.C. where they are printed.

In 1871, O’Sullivan join the geological surveys west of the one hundredth meridian, under the command of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler of the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Wheeler would caption O’Sullivan’s photographs with practical information useful in the later establishment of roads and rail routes and emphasized the west’s suitability for settlement.

In 1873, on another Wheeler expedition, O’Sullivan photographed the Zuni and Magia pueblos and the Canyon de Chelly and its remnants of a cliff-dwelling culture. He returned to Washington, D.C., in 1874 and made prints for the Army Corps of Engineers. Soon after being made chief photographer for the United States Treasury in 1880, O’Sullivan died of tuberculosis at age forty-one.

Sand dunes, 1867, Carson Desert Western Nevada RG 77 Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1789-1988 Photographic Album of the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel – The King Survey, 1867-1872 ARC ID 519530 77KS-3-160

Timothy H. O’Sullivan Portfolio

References

Asa Merton Russell “Panamint Russ” 

Asa Russell, also known as “Panamint Russ”, was a prospector and mine owner is the Butte Valley Area of Death Valley National Park, California.

Asa Merton Russell "Panamint Russ" in front of the Geologist cabin - Courtesy of Desert Magazine April 1955
Asa Russell “Panamint Russ” in front of the Geologist cabin – Courtesy of Desert Magazine April 1955

Russell started his mining career in the 1930 working in the Butte Valley area of the Panamint Mountains. The miner found gold high up the side of old Manly and began mining operation. Asa Merton Russell first established a camp, known as “Russell’s Camp” for his mining operations and registered several claims in the area from 1933 to 1947. Russell developed the springs nearby into a water source to supply the camp with drinking water, irrigation for trees and even vines of Concord Grapes. A five hundred gallon water tank is added to the system in the late 1950’s or 1960’s

The concord grapes are doing well, too. Twenty-five years ago coming through Riverside, California, I stopped at a nursery and bought a half dozen bare-root size, wrapped them in a newspaper, laid them on the running board with a wet gunny sack and today they are 20 feet of beauty.

Life on the Desert – by Panamint Russ – Desert Magazine, April, 1955

Asa Merton Russell retired from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power in May of 1960. This event probably coincided with the previously mentioned 500-gallon water tank and water system expansion. Upon his retirement, Russ moved full time to his “Russell’s Camp” located on the site of the Ten Spot Mill. The miner operated his “Lucky Strike” mine from 1930 to 1974.

References