his career, Taylor collected photographs — many of them
commercial stereographs — and kept them in a scrapbook
along with descriptive accounts and letters. These provided
him with instant access to visual references for depicting the
increasingly diverse cultural and geographic life of the West
or for illustrating events to which he was not an eyewitness.
Given his broad social connections, Taylor was able to obtain
many unique items. These make his scrapbook an important historical
resource of value well beyond its original use.
the early 1870s, the idea of a Wild West show became popular
and several plays were produced using recognizable Western figures.
Headlining these dramas were such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody,
Texas Jack Omohundro, Josephine
Morlacchi and Wild Bill Hickok. The plays recreated various
Western adventures in a loosely organized form. Hickok was especially
interested in keeping people on their toes and liked to shoot
off live ammunition when he got bored. Eventually these productions
evolved into the famous outdoor Wild West Shows staring Cody,
but on Taylor’s "Border Drama" page (above),
one can glimpse the cast of an early and now forgotten play.
Of particular note is the unique original tintype of Wild Bill
Hickok (right), cropped from a group portrait of the rest of
While we do not yet know if Taylor used these images in an illustration,
he certainly used other rare portraits in his collection. His
scrapbook includes two other tintypes, one of Miss
Josephine Meeker, Mrs. Flora Price and her children, and
another of Major Thomas Thornburgh.
All were involved in a brief but bloody conflict with the Ute
Indians in the region of present-day Utah.
In 1879 Nathan Meeker, a government agent for the Utes, repeatedly
attempted to persuade the Indians to become a farming community
with little luck. Fearing trouble, Meeker asked for military
assistance and, in response, Major Thornburgh and his troups
were dispatched. Upon seeing the military, the Utes believed
they had been sent to take their lands and a battle ensued.
Thornburgh and many of his men were killed. At the agency outpost,
Meeker and eleven others were killed and several hostages were
taken including his daughter Josephine. Their lives were spared
only because of her appeals to the Indians. As can be seen on
these pages, Taylor used the tintypes
to illustrate these events, accurately copying the source images.
grouped many of his images by theme. One of the most interesting
is "The Border Drama" (left). At first glance, the page appears
to be a random collection of portraits, but with a little research,
they become a unified group and the document even more valuable
are some other album pages grouped by theme:
of the Washita
original tintype of Wild Bill Hickok, cropped from a group photo,
appears on the page at left. Here it has been digitally enhanced
to bring out details in the original photo.