“…for his long and highly meritorious service…”

Lance_Corproal_Hammerton

Above: Drummer John Hammerton of the 1st Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment in a photograph that once belonged to Drummer William H. White also of the 1st Battalion. He wears his drummer’s trade badge on his upper right sleeve and had been awarded two good conduct stripes when this photograph was taken. Hammerton is dressed in his white tropical service uniform which is befitting his serving in India. His foreign service helmet rest on the studio table and his walking out stick can be seen on the studio chair. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

This carte de visite was one of a pair that once belonged to Drummer William White of the 1st Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment. The first carte (not shown here) depicts fellow Worcestershire Regiment drummer J. Chapman. White’s inscription on the reverse side of Chapman’s photograph states that he died while serving in India, the fact of which means that his service records no longer exist. The second of the pair of cartes (shown above) depicts No. 644 Lance Corporal John Hammerton’s whose service records have been found.  The first page of his attestation papers is missing so his place of birth is not known although his birthdate of about 1858 can be assumed by his stated age at the time of discharge. He attested with the 1st battalion of the 29th Regiment of Foot (later the Worcestershire Regiment) on 29 August 1871. He shipped out to India on 29 January 1879 and spent four years, 306 days in India before returning home on 1 December 1883. Hammerton remained with the regiment in home service for another 14 years, 159 days before claiming his discharge after having given three months’ notice, leaving the colours on 8 May 1898. He served a total of 26 years, 253 days in the Queen’s service.

Lance_Corproal_Hammerton_Reverse

Above: The reverse side of Drummer Hammerton’s photograph showing William White’s inscription identifying Hammerton as the subject, giving date and location of the photograph – Nasirabad, March 1883. Hammerton had already been appointed Lance Corporal and the promoted Sergeant when Drummer White inscribed the photograph. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

Hammerton attested as a boy on 29 August 1871 when he was about 13 years old. Appointed Drummer on 1 December 1873 and retained this appointment until 6 September 1884 when he reverted to private. Promoted Corporal a short time later on 15 October 1884 and then promoted Sergeant two months after that on 15 December 1884. His rapid promotion slowed to a more normal rate being promoted Colour Sergeant on 15 December 1889. Had he not been promoted to sergeant he would have been entitled to 5 good conduct badges but was awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal for his long years of exemplary service. Interestingly his service papers never showing holding the appointment of Lance Corporal. On 21 July 1924 Hammerton was granted an annuity of £10 “…as a reward for his long and highly meritorious service…”

Hammerton’s service records show him being brought onto the married establishment on 5 February 1884 with his wife’s name being Fanny. His papers also give the names of two daughters; Emily (b. 12 December 1885) and Edith (b. 12 April 1888).  John Joseph Hammerton passed away at Hipswell, Yorkshire on 2 December 1938 and the age of 81 and was buried in the churchyard of St. John the Evangelist Church in Hipswell.

John Hammerton Grave

Above: John Hammerton’s grave in the churchyard of  St. John the Evangelist Church in Hipswell, Yorkshire. Photo: findagrave.com

The Queen’s Escort – 1887

Risaldar_Major_Sher_Singh

Above: Cabinet photograph of Risaldar (Captain) Sher Singh by A & G Taylor of London. England. c. 1887. Sher Singh is pictured wearing the splendid full dress uniform of his regiment. His tunic is of the “alkalak” style with its distinctive curved lace across the chest. His pagri (turban) is of the regimental pattern. A cummerbund (sash) and sword belt encircles his waist and his saber is of the traditional Indian “tulwar” pattern.  Photograph: Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com collection.

In 1887 Queen Victoria was to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee and military representatives from the far-flung corners of her empire were called upon to take part in the commemorative pageant in London that was to mark the event. Her personal escort was to consist of selected native cavalry officers of the Anglo-Indian Army. 

In years of service to the British crown Risaldar (Captain) Sher Singh (pictured above) of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, Punjab Frontier Force may have been the most senior of the Queen’s escort.  He certainly seems to have been the most highly decorated of the group. As in the case of the other Indian officer’s pictured here no overall statement of service has been found but a general outline of such service can be put together based on their campaign medals and decorations. Additional information was found in History of the Second Panjab [sic] Cavalry from 1849 to 1886 which was published in 1888.

Risaldar Major Sher Singh wears from center left to right: the 1887 Jubilee Medal, the Indian Order of Merit star awarded for valour, the Indian Mutiny Medal (1857-58) with three clasps, the 1854 India General Service Medal with two clasps and the 2nd Afghan War Medal (1878-80) with the single clasp “Ahmed Khel“. Around his neck in the Order of British India awarded for Indian officers for long and faithful service. The Indian Order of Merit was the oldest award form valour in the British Empire (established by the Honourable and East India Company in 1837) and was issued in three classed.  The first class was awarded under criteria similar to that of the later Victoria Cross and in 1902 when the Indian troops became eligible for the Victoria Cross, the Order was reduced to two classes.

According to a newspaper 2012 interview in the Henley Standard (Henley on Thames and South Oxfordshire) with Sher Singh’s fifth great-grandson Paramvir Singh, the Rasildar Major was some 74 years old when he attended the Queen’s Jubilee. This would place his birth date around 1813. According to family tradition, this old soldier stood just over five feet tall and would vault into the saddle of his horse since the stirrups were too high for a normal mount. Apparently, he performed this feat in front of Queen Victoria who was quite entertained by it. When Sher Singh received word that he had been chosen to be a member in the Indian contingent in the Jubilee he rode on horseback the entire was from the Afghan border to Calcutta where the England bound ship was waiting. The journey took him some four months.

The Jubilee may not have been Sher Sing’s first visit to England. He seems to have been part of the group of four who attended the delivery of the Koh-i-noor diamond to England in 1851. The others in the group where the young Maharaja Duleep Singh, deposed heir to the great Sikh Empire, his guardian British Army surgeon Dr. John Login, and Login’s wife Lena. If Sher Singh was indeed the fourth member of the group then it is possible that he was for a time attached to the Maharaja’s household.

A relatively complete outline of Sher Singh’s military career can be put together from mentions made of him in the 1888 book History of the Second Panjab [sic] Cavalry from 1849 to 1886. Published anonymously in London, Sher Singh is stated to have joined the 2nd Punjab Cavalry on 3 June 1849. Duffadar Sher Singh was cited for gallant and distinguished conduct at the battle of Agra on 1 October 1857 during the Indian Mutiny and was awarded the Order of Merit, 2nd Class on 17 December 1857. He was promoted to Jemadar on 22 January 1859 and to Resaldar on 16 November 1874. For his services during the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War, Sher Singh was awarded the Order of British India, 2nd Class and granted the honorary title of Sirdar Bahadur. His 2nd Class Order of British India was advanced to the 1st Class in 1886.

When Sher Singh died in 1888 Commander-in-Chief in India Frederick Sleigh Roberts, VC tendered his condolences to Singh’s family referring to him as a personal friend and stated his desired hope to have appointed Singh as an aide-de-camp had a posting become available.

Roberts also wrote in part:

“The late Risaldar’s unswerving loyalty to the State and to the officers under whom he served, his general demeanour, his single-hearted honesty and his untiring energy which the weight of 75 years had failed to impair, afford a bright example to his fellow soldiers which Colonel Lance trusts will long be remembered and imitated in the Regiment.”

This outstanding photographic study was once part of a set of fifteen which depicted officers of the Anglo-Indian cavalry who were chosen to take part in Queen Victoria’s 1887 Golden Jubilee of 1887. The set of photographs were in all likelihood the official portraits of these officers taken at the behest of the Queen by noted photographers Andrew and George Taylor. After supplying the Queen with her photographs the Taylor brothers would have offered additional sets for sale to the general public. These photographs came from one of those commercially available sets.

The set original depicted two British officers (Captain C.W. Muir, Viceroy’s Body-Guard and Captain G.A.Money, 18th Bengal Lancers) and 13 highly decorated Indian officers and was complete until it was broken up for individual sale via online auction. While the dispersal of the set was unfortunate it did allow at least some of the images to be displayed at the soldiersofthequeen.com website. It was interesting to note that the two images of British born officers sold for a considerably higher sum than any of those of the Indian officers even if the latter are by far considerably much more rare and more desirable from a collectors point of view, at least in my opinion – especially when one considers their extremely fine condition and outstanding composition.

With the close of the auction, I had acquired what I consider to have been the four best of the photographs – each depicting an identified veteran Indian officer taken at the very apex of the British Raj.

Sher_Singh1859_Portrait

Above: A photographic illustration taken from the 1888 edition of History of the Second Panjab [sic] Cavalry from 1849 to 1886 showing a group of officers and
noncommissioned officers of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry in 1859. A young Sher Singh is shown seated second from left. Image courtesy of google books.

The Wartime Odessey of Yang Kyoungjong

When the photograph below appeared in the American press not long after D-Day the soldier in question gave rise to the belief that Japanese soldiers where fighting alongside their German allies on the beaches of Normandy. While this possibility had long been pondered (as far back as 1941 some U.S. Naval personnel swore they saw Nazi planes over Pearl Harbor) the actual story behind this photo and the unlikely soldier in question – Korean-born Yang Kyoungjong – is in reality much more remarkable if not downright improbable.

Yang-Kyoungjong

Above: A U.S. military press photograph taken at Normandy not long after the June 6, 1944 landings depicting a rather disheveled and forlorn looking POW in German uniform. Although unidentified in the original photograph, some believe that the man may be Yang Kyoungjong. Others postulate that this soldier may have been a POW from Soviet Asia who had been pressed into German service. The photo’s original caption incorrectly identifies the subject as Japanese. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

Born on March 3, 1920, in what is today’s North Korea, Yang Kyoungjong was sent as a laborer to Manchuria by the Japanese occupiers of Korea in 1938. Once there he was conscripted into the Japanese Kwangtung Army which had set up a puppet regime of Manchukuo in the Chinese province. At the although officially at peace the Soviet Union and Japan were in fact in a low-grade shooting war. The confrontations escalated to the point of several pitched battles, during one of which – Khalkhyn Gol – Yang Kyoungjong found himself captured by Soviet Forces. The year was 1939.

Yang Kyoungjong was sent to a Siberian gulag – a virtual death sentence – along with other Japanese POWs. Yang would receive a reprieve of sorts after Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Initial Soviet defeats left Stalin so hardpressed for troops that he offered pardons the prisoners provided they volunteer to military service against Germany. Yang Kyoungjong volunteered for service in the Soviet army probably more to escape death in a gulag than anything else but his previous experiences in fighting along the Manchurian border would have ill-prepared him for the unimaginable carnage of Europe’s eastern front.

Yang Kyoungjong would have found himself packed like cattle along with thousands of other unwilling Soviet conscripts headed west along the Trans Siberian Railroad. The 2011 Korean film My Way depicts Yang Kyoungjong taking part in the Battle of Stalingrad but I have found no information confirming this. He apparently took part in the Third Battle of Kharkov in the eastern Ukraine (1943) where he was captured by the Germans.

By this time Nazi Germany found itself in the same predicament that the Soviet Union had just a couple years earlier – suffering from a dire shortage of troops and she resorted to the same dubious solution to the problem. Soviet, as well as other Eastern European prisoners, were conscripted for service in the Wehrmacht. Many of these troops – volunteers and otherwise – were organized into Ost-Bataillonen (Eastern Battalions) with the intent that they perform labor duties in occupied territories freeing up regular German units for more important frontline service. Once again Yang Kyoungjong found himself in a new uniform of another army.

Above: Of related interest in the 2011 Korean film My Way which is loosely based on Yang Kyoungjong’s wartime experiences during World War Two.  Here is a link to a trailer for the film which makes for some pretty spectacular viewing even if it is filled to overflowing with some big-time anachronisms such as the Iowa class battleship USS Missouri bombarding the Normandy beachhead.

Yang Kyoungjong along with the rest of his fellow Ost-Bataillone members were apparently deployed to the area around the Cotentin peninsula, close by Utah Beach in Normandy, France sometime prior to the Allied landings on D-Day.  Uninspired and completely unprepared for battle the Ost-Bataillonen not surprisingly contributed virtually nothing to the German defense of Normandy. Yang appears to have surrendered to American forces not long after June 6.

Interestingly a wartime account made by Lieutenant Robert Brewer, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (of Band of Brothers fame) mentions his regiment capturing four Asian soldiers in German uniform not long after D-Day. Could one of these four men have been Yang Kyoungjong? In any event, Yang was reportedly sent to an American POW holding camp in England prior to being shipped to a permanent camp on the United States where he remained until 1947. One might guess that Yang was surprised not to have been shoehorned into an American uniform and deployed to fight the Japanese in the Pacific. Had that happened this remarkable journey would have indeed gone full circle.

After release, Yang declined repatriation to Korea and settled in Illinois. He is said to have passed away there on April 7, 1992.

So that is the remarkable story of Yang Kyoungjong. Remarkable? Yes, but is the story true? I was rather disappointed when after considerable research I was, and have been unable to find any verifiable/primary sources confirming the tale. For example, I can find no newspaper mention of Yang Kyoungjong with the exception of a 2012 review of the book The Second World War by Anthony Beevor. One might assume that given Yang’s notoriety an obituary might have been published in a local or national paper. None have been found. Versions of Yang’s life appear online in dozens of places, and while remarkably similar in detail, none provided any links to reliable and verifiable primary source material. Even a 2005 investigative documentary by the Seoul Broadcasting System found no evidence that Yang Kyoungjong ever existed.

It appears to this reporter at least that Yang’s story is one of the better peices of World War Two apocrypha. While it does not seem to be true, it is one tale that I wish could be verified.

image

Above: A group of Asian POWs in German Army uniforms under guard on board a U.S. Navy vessel sometime after D-Day. Being transported to a POW camp in England, many if not all of these men were probably Ost-Bataillonen conscripts from the eastern reaches of the Soviet Union, some may have indeed bee Korean and whose forgotten tale parallels that of Yang Kyoungjong. Photo: Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

 

 

 

Serving His Adopted Homeland

This photographic study of a member of “B” Troop, 7th United States Cavalry would have remained unidentified had it not been for the lucky inclusion of this soldier’s calling card with the lot when purchased.

Emil_ViewegAbove: Private Emil Paul Vieweg of the 7th U.S. Cavalry poses in his M1911 winter service tunic ans M1905 service cap at Fort Riley, Kansas c. 1908. Mounted Photograph (trimmed) 6 3/4 Inches by 4 7/8 Inches (17.5 cm x 12.5 cm), Unknown Photographer
Fort Riley, Kansas, United States. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

Born at Greiz in eastern Thuringia, Germany, on September 16, 1885, Emil Paul Vieweg arrived in the United States in 1906 and like so many other recent immigrants enlisted in the army soon thereafter on 14 December 1907. Attached as a private to “B” Troop of the famed 7th U.S. Cavalry, Vieweg served out his term of enlistment at Fort Riley, Kansas. He took his discharge on 13 December 1910. At that time his character was listed as “Excellent”. By 1910 he had already declared his intent to become a U.S. citizen and by 1920 his application had been granted.

Emil_Vieweg_Calling_Card-600x336

Above: Private Emil Vieweg’s calling card used while he was a member of “B” Troop, 7th Regiment, United States Cavalry. His photographic portrait is attached to the card in the manner and size of a postage stamp. The photograph is exactly the same image seen in the
larger photo shown above. The card and larger portrait were in all likelihood produced as a package. Such packages were probably offered at a discount and sold in various combinations to the soldiers
stationed at Fort Riley. 2 Inches by 3 1/2 Inches
(5.2 cm x 9.1 cm) c. 1908. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

Army life must have agreed with him but perhaps having grown tired of the rather flat and boring landscape of Kansas, Vieweg re-enlisted as a private on 23 May 1911 at Fort Wadsworth, New York this time with 53 Company, United States Coast Artillery Corps. If Vieweg had intended to make a career in the army it was a short-lived hope since he was admitted to Walter Reed Army Hospital for an unknown reason on 11 November 1912. He returned to duty at Fort Wadsworth, New York on 23 December 1912 after more than a year in the hospital. Vieweg was discharged for disability on 16 May 1913. At this time his character was stated as being “good”. He applied for an army disability pension on 5 June 1918. Interestingly this application did not prevent his registering for the draft on 12 September 1918. I have found no evidence of Vieweg serving another hitch during World War One.

According to the above-mentioned draft registration, Vieweg was married with his wife’s name being Theresa. He was employed as a timekeeper with the J. L. Sommers Manufacturing Company, a firm that produced “wire novelties”. The couple made their home in Newark, New Jersey. The couple was still residing in Newark in 1930 during which time Vieweg was now employed as a department store manager.

Emil_Vieweg_B_Troop_Postcard

Above: A Real Photo Postcard titled “B Troop Sports Taking Life Easy”. The photograph was taken somewhere in the vicinity of Fort Riley, Kansas c 1908 shows nine members of B Troop, 7th United States Cavalry as well as three young men who may have been the
sons
of some of these soldiers. Private Emil Vieweg stands at far right leaning against the tree. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

In the 1930 United States Census, all adult males had their status as veterans listed. Even though Vieweg clearly served in the U.S. Army he was listed as a non-veteran. I have seen several other similar cases and apparently the enumerators for the 1930 census only listed those former soldiers who had served in a war as veterans. For those men who the “veteran” box was marked “yes” it was always followed by a notation of “WW” for World War One, “SP” for the Spanish-American War and in a few cases by this late date “CW” for Civil War. It should also be noted that there was no veteran credit given to those soldiers who had taken part in the many Indian Wars – at least I have never seen one listed as such.

Vieweg and his wife who was 17 years his senior seem to have remained childless. By 1940 he was widowed and living at he Soldier’s Home Hospital in Washington DC. He passed away on 4 December 1947 and was buried at the Soldier’s Home National Cemetery, Washington DC.

Fragments of the Old West – The Gamblers

One last excursion into the Old West (for now) before moving on to other areas of hopfully historical interest.

The_Gamblers

Above: An 1870s vintage 1/6th plate tintype of four Old West types who would not look out of place in any saloon setting. The older gent sitting at left in the silk top hat is a character right out of a Hollywood casting department call. He looks more than a little like actor John Carradine. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

This 1/6th plate tintype features a cast of characters who would not look out of place around a poker table in Luke Short’s Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City or in a poker game the Oriental in Tombstone, Arizona. The local could just as easily have been Deadwood or El Paso.

This image dates from around the late 1870s. Each man in completely distinct from others in the group and whether or not they were gamblers as implied is open for question. Who they were and what relationship brought them together for the photograph will probably never be known but it is fascinating to speculate are to what their association may have been.

Carradine

Above: Actor John Carradine as James Barrow McBride in The Mind Reader, a 1959 episode of ABC Television series The Rifleman. Image: ABC Television/riflemanconnors.com.

faro

Above: while poker was played in the Old West, contrary to depictions in Hollywood westerns it was not as popular as commonly believed. Faro – pictured above – was by far the card game most encountered in gambling halls and saloons. Today the easily played game is virtually extinct possibly due to the low house odds when played fairly. 

Fragments of the Old West – or Checking in at Tombstone

Another fragment of the Old West – a Pima County Bank Check/Draft from Tombstone, Arizona dated September 6, 1881, payable to a member of the Fesenfeld family of Anaheim Township which was then part of Los Angeles County. It is endorsed on the reverse by S. J. Fesenfeld and countersigned by banker B. F. Seibert (Benjamin F. Seibert) also of Anaheim.  The check was drawn at Tombstone a little less two months before what would become the most infamous gunfight in the Old West – the Gunfight at the OK Corral. It is signed by P.W. Smith, Manager.

Tombstone Check 2

Above: A $50.00 Bank Check Pima County Bank Tombstone, Arizona Territory, United States. September 6, 1881. 8 inches by 3 3/8 inches (20.3cm x 8.7cm). Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia.soldiersofthequeen.com.

Tombstone Check Reverse 2

Above: The reverse side of the check endorsed by S. J. Fesenfeld to “Yourselves” and countersigned by banker Benjamin F. Seibert of the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Los Angeles.

P. W. Smith (Phillip William Smith, 1828-1901) was a key and colorful figure in early Tombstone history. He was a Republican, and considered a member of Wyatt Earp’s political “faction.” It is a little-known fact that the friction between Wyatt Earp and his brothers Virgil and Morgan along with John “Doc” Holliday and the Clantons was as much political as it was legal. The Earps and many of their adherents were members of the Republican Party while Clanton’s and their allies such as Cochise County Sheriff John Behan were all Democrats. Wyatt Earp would run against – and lose to – John Behan for the office of Cochise County Sheriff.

Smith owned and operated “P. W. Smith’s,” a popular general merchandise store in Tombstone. He also owned “P. W. Smith’s Corral,” on the corner of Third Street where Wyatt and Doc Holliday sometimes stabled their horses. Smith and partners B. Solomon and J. B. Fried supplied Tombstone with gas for street lights and homes. Smith was also one of the partners in the newspaper Tombstone Epitaph along with mayor John Clum, Charles Reppy, E. B. Gage (also members or sympathizers of the Earp Faction), and several others. He sold his interest in the paper when Milt Joyce and other Democratic investors took control and brought in Sam Purdy as the new editor.

Earps

Above: Wyatt Earp, Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and John “Doc’ Holliday. All four men would shoot their way into Western legend during the so-called Gunfight at the O.K. Corral at Tombstone, Arizona on October 24, 1881. Virgil Earp served as Tombstone City Marshal and Wyatt and Vigil his deputies. Wyatt and Doc would be appointed Deputy U.S. Marshals in the bloody aftermath of the notorious gunfight.

In 1879, brothers Barron and Lionel Jacobs partnered with Smith to open the Pima County Bank, the first formal financial institution in Tucson. The two brothers were established merchants and suppliers in the Tucson and Tombstone areas, having expanded the family’s business from San Bernardino, California eastward into southeastern Arizona.

The following year, in 1880, the trio opened the “Agency Pima County Bank” in Tombstone, where it operated out of Smith’s mercantile building. In 1882 it became the Cochise County Bank, with Smith as President, but it would shut down in 1890 because of Tombstone’s depressed economy following the closure of many of the silver mines in the area.

Tombstone_(probably_in_1881)

Above: A view of Tombstone, Arizona c.1881 by noted local photographer C. S. Fly.

Many of Tombstone’s legendary lawmen and outlaws regularly did business with Smith; the day before the shootout at the OK Corral on Oct. 26, 1881, “Cow-Boys” Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury made deposits with Smith at the Pima County Bank, located in Smith’s mercantile building.

Cowboys

Above: Members of the “Cow-Boy” faction that was at odds with the Earps. Ike Clanton, Johnny Ringo, Cochise County Sheriff John Behan and a purported photo of William “Curley Bill” Brocius.

Allegedly, a day or so before the gunfight occurred, Wyatt Earp took delivery of a special frock coat from P. W. Smith’s mercantile store: supposedly a mackinaw with lined pockets and made in dark blue heavy jean or canvas. The pockets were supposed to be lined with stiff leather, doubling as holsters to hide Earp’s pistols. It was reported that Earp was wearing this coat during the famous gunfight.

Above: One of the seemingly endless number of classic scenes from the 1993 production of Tombstone. Source: Youtube/Hollywood Pictures.

On the day of the shooting, one of Smith’s employees, J. H. Batcher, was coming back to the mercantile store, following a few feet behind Wyatt Earp, who was walking in the same direction. He witnessed the famous confrontation between Tom McLaury and Wyatt, which ended when Earp slapped McLaury and then smacked him on the head with the butt of his pistol. This incident, along with Doc Holliday’s earlier confrontation with Ike Clanton, would touch off the gunfight a few hours later. Batcher would later be called to testify in court as to what he had seen that day.

Philip William Smith, merchant, banker, publisher and entrepreneur knew and associated with pretty much every major figure involved in Tombstone’s early days, and the gunfight at the OK Corral.

 

Fragments of the Old West – Wee-a-Wah

Taken at Fort Washakie, Wyoming sometime in the 1880’s by artist/photographer Merritt Dana Houghton, this cabinet photo depicts a member of the Eastern Shoshone (Kuccuntikka) people by the name of Wee-a-Wah. According to the photograph’s period inscription, his name translates as White Horse. Even after quite extensive research, I have unfortunately been unable to find any personal information regarding this man.

Wee-A-Wah

Above: Dressed in his best, Wee-a-Wah posed for photographer Merritt Dana Houghton sometime in the 1880s at Fort Washakie, Wyoming. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com

The Eastern Shoshone had been living at the Wind River Reservation and around Fort Washakie since the signing of the Fort Bridger Treaty in 1868 and this man’s wardrobe in clear evidence of this fact. Although of an overall distinctive appearance, virtually every item worn by Wee-a-Wah had been either purchased from white suttlers at Fort Washakie or from reservation trading posts. There is nothing of indigenous manufacture in the way of dress to be seen. On his head is a somewhat battered silk top hat. He has also acquired an 1883 pattern U.S. Army tunic and is wrapped in a fringed plaid blanket. In his right hand is a store bought folding fan. While trade goods were highly prized by indigenous peoples, the complete lack of traditional elements in his attire speaks in volumes to the forced loss of ancient culture in the face of the overwhelming and relentless advance of European/American “civilization”.

Wee-A-Wah Reverse

Above: The photograph’s reverse side with its subject identified in a period inscription and bearing the stamp of photographer Merritt Dana Houghton. Source: Collection of Edward T. Garcia/soldiersofthequeen.com.

The photographer – Merritt Dana Houghton – was born in Illinois to Canadian parents on May 31, 1846. He first shows up in Rawlins, Wyoming in the 1880 census when is he is listed as a “Photographist”. He was noted as an artist perhaps more than a photographer and produced a large number of “bird’s eye” maps and renderings of western towns and localities. He was married at this time and he and his wife Frances had one child – Charles born about 1877. He was later active in Spokane, Washington and died there in 1918, a victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic.

Fort Fetterman

Above: A bird’s eye view of Fort Fetterman from C. G. Coutant’s History of Wyoming by Merritt Dana Houghton. c. 1899. Source: Wyoming State Museum, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.