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  • Notes From The Frontier

Wild West Mystery Photographs

Last year in England, a mysterious photo album was found that included 83 silver gelled photographs from the 1800s of the American Wild West. The photographs were of Native Americans, ranchers, cattle pokes, and frontier life. How the photographs got to England and who they belonged to is a mystery.

The theory is that a young Englishman went to America to experience the Wild West and worked on ranches in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico as a farmhand. This adventurous young Englishman, along with a young William A. White, who would later become a well-known Raton Pass, Colorado, photographer, took the photographs. The story is that the young English man eventually made a fortune in ranching, then returned back to the United Kingdom, taking the photo album with him as a memento of his life in the Wild West. There, they remained sequestered away for 130 years until they were found in an old house.

The photographs were put up for auction through Flints Auction House about six months ago. Since the lore of the American West is very popular in England as well as the United States, the photographs caused quite a stir. And why not? Immigrants from all over the world flocked to settle the American West. And many single immigrant men went West to seek fame, fortune, and adventure. It seems the young Englishman who owned the mystery album found all three. His anonymous fame came 130 years later, when his mystery photographs were discovered.


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