Treasures Come to Light in Tasmania
Wedding Photos of Doc Holliday and “Big Nose Kate”
Turn Up Down Under
Editor Maggie Van Ostrand’s
article on “Big Nose
Kate” recently brought her a most interesting letter from Tasmania. What follows
is the email from Mr. John Bullock, who has come into possession of the wedding
photos of Doc Holliday and Kate. The photos have been authenticated by Maciej
Henneberg, Professor of Anthropological and Comparative Anatomy at the University
of Adelaide. It’s hoped that someone might shed some light on how the photos made
their way so far from Texas. Any responses sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will
immediately be forwarded to Mr. Bullock.
pair of wedding photographs I bought at a trash and treasure market two years
ago. I asked the seller where they came from, and he said from a farmhouse in
Huonville, a small town in the south of Tasmania but knew nothing more. At that
time I did not realize that they were Doc
and Kate, if
I had I would have gotten his name. I can not now find him. I have placed pictured
advertisements in the Huonville News offering a reward for information about the
photographs and a news article was published in the Huonville News. Both yielded
no replies, but somebody out there knows where they came from.|
photographs measure 20 inches by 14 inches and are in gilded brass frames with
bow-fronted glass. They are, I am sure, the wedding photos of John Henry ‘Doc’
Holliday and Mary Katherine Harony (
Big Nose Kate). The photos are albumen prints enhanced with aniline retouching,
and are marked on the reverse in pencil 169 and 170 - making them a pair. They
were printed by the I.D.C. which later became the Ideal Photo Company managed
by D. P.Morgan who operated in Cripple Creek Colorado circa 1890. |
on the back are the numbers 23-4 which I think indicates the date when they were
in her interview with Bork and Martin in Prescott in 1935 told them she married
on the 25th of May 1876. I wonder that after nearly 60 years her memory slipped
and it was the 23rd of April 1876. I know that in the USA they print the month
before the day, but some European photographers in the USA still used the day
before month. For example the photographs of the hanging of Lincoln’s assassins
taken by Alexander Gardner (a Scotsman).
I think that the photos were
taken in St. Louis in 1876 as it is reputed that they were both there at that
time. I believe that they are wedding photos as Doc
is in formal day wear and has a bouquet appearing to be a Gardenia in his left
lapel, the Gardenia is a springtime bloomer which would be good for April.
have tried for a long time to trace the I. D. Co to St Louis at that time with
no result, but I think that the numbers 169 and 170 would make them very early
works by that company, and that they may have moved elsewhere before being recorded.
The photographs went with Doc
and Kate when
they arrived in Fort Griffin Texas
in the spring of 1878. It was there that Doc got into trouble with the law and
was held in his room at the hotel, where Kate
rescued him from the law by lighting a fire at the back of the hotel. While people
were fighting the fire she held up Doc’s
custodians and they escaped. It would be unlikely that they took the photographs
with them, but is distinctly possible that they were taken by the proprietors
of the hotel either Jack and Estelle Swartz of the Planters Hotel, or Hank and
Elizabeth Smith of the Occidental Hotel as compensation for unpaid rent. Where
they went from there is the big question!
I have found other photographs
from Texas in Tasmania recently. These were printed
by Frank Rogers of 712 Elm Street, Dallas. So someone in Tasmania must have collected
Wild West photos, but again I could not trace them as they came from a local antique
shop who had them for years and did not know their origin.
It would be
good to find somebody in the USA that has photos by the I. D. Co. I have some
printed in the 1890s but not before. Perhaps someone has clues on D. P. Morgan
or the owner of the I. D. Co. in the 1870s.
It would also be a
find if anyone has information about Jack and Estelle Swartz, who I believe
moved their Hotel to Colorado City, Texas circa 1890s. I have tried to trace Swartz’s
in Tasmania with no luck, but I believe they had a son William and maybe a daughter.
Where did they go? Any inroads to any of the Swartz’s who emigrated to Australia
would be good news.
- John Bullock
“Many thanks to Professor Maciej Henneberg whose professional expertise helped
to authenticate these photographs “ - JB
Doc & Kate photos
I much enjoyed the writeup on Kate
Elder. I noted with interest your evidence that the photos were wedding photos
and I just wanted to comment on your evidence that the lapel flowers likely being
gardenia that would be in bloom in April. I don't think it is likely that he would
have found Gardenia's commonly grow in St. Louis. It is too cold for them there.
Gardenia's are perennial shrubs that can grow in hardiness zones to as low as
8b (10-15 degrees F). St Louis is hardiness zone 6a (-10 to -5 degrees F) . Gardenia's
would be killed by cold in the St Louis climate. Furthermore, even in the warmer
8b zone Gardenia's don't normally flower as early as April. They are late spring
to early summer bloomers June-July in my experience.
Old fashioned Camellias
can grow in hardiness zone 7 and do bloom in the early spring. So they may be
a better possibility for the flowers. However, it looks like there are two small
flowers- much smaller than either gardenias or camellias normally are.
I hope this information is helpful in your historical investigation. - Ray,
May 01, 2010