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Nez Perces Indian War Series '77

Click HERE for transcription of Nez Perce Indian War Series '77 (1891) .

April 2001

In October of 1891, the Grangeville, Idaho Free Press carried an advertisement for "Nez Perce War Photographs of '77." Drawing on the well-remembered events of only fourteen years previous, the Moscow Art Studio, in Moscow, Idaho, a joint venture by photographers Erichson and Hanson, promised to illustrate "all the Historical places on Salmon river, White Bird, Clearwater, and the beautiful Camas Prairie. The land of Indian romance and tragedy. The most Picturesque Region in Idaho. The most elaborate Photographic History ever published on the Pacific coast."

The series was ambitious, although perhaps not "the most elaborate...ever published on the Pacific coast." Forty-six images comprised the entire series, which sold for 50 cents each or $5.00 per dozen. The title of the series, however, is misleading, these are 1891 photographs of scenes of the Nez Perce war, not photographs taken in 1877 . Central Idaho's major sites -- cabins, caves, bluffs, stockades, river crossings, battle sites, and towns -- were all documented. Not surprisingly, their captions support the settlers' point of view about the war. The tragedy of the Nez Perce removal, the impact of the political struggle on the different bands, the flight across Idaho and Montana with the aged, the women, and the children, is not represented. Even as late as 1885, in the face of widespread public appreciation for the Nez Perce situation, Chief Joseph and his band were unwelcome in their homeland.

Henry Erichson was born in Germany in 1856 and arrived in the United States only fifteen years later. He learned the photographic art in Michigan and practiced in Red Bluff, California. After nine years as an itinerant photographer he established himself in Moscow, Idaho, from 1884. He continued in business there until at least 1908, serving on the city council and as president of the Photographers Association of the Northwest.

John A. Hanson was two years older, born in Denmark, and nineteen when he came to the states. Moving westward from New York, Hanson traveled to Illinois, and then to California by December 1874. After several years as a summer-time itinerant photographer, he moved to Moscow in 1890 and then on to Grangeville in the following year. There he continued as a photographer, with "The Elite" printed on his mounts, until at least 1910. A successful businessman and property owner in Grangeville, Hanson was an IOOF member and, as well, a member of the Red Men.

Erichson and Hanson had met in California and were briefly partners as Hanson and Erichson. When Hanson joined Erichson in Moscow they resumed their partnership (as Erichson and Hanson) and it continued for a year or so after Hanson moved to Grangeville. Thus it was undoubtedly Hanson who took the photographs making up this series. Erichson was to supply the marketing and distribution muscle while Hanson established his studio in Grangeville. Neither of the two were in Idaho during 1877, so their relationship with the depicted events was entirely second-hand.

As a group the photographic images entitled "Nez Perces Indian War Series '77" have proved quite ephemeral. The Historical Museum at St. Gertrude, just outside Cottonwood, has at least two images from the 46 image group, one on the original mount. The Idaho State Historical Society in Boise has what may be a copy of one scene. The University of Idaho Library does not have any of the original photographs but holds early photocopies of eight of the images, plus a copy of the back of the mount listing all forty-six images in the group. Information about the location of additional images would be welcomed.

Caption: Nez Perces Indian War Series '77 list (1891) - Photocopy. Historical Photograph Collection, University of Idaho Library. #6-024-5a.

[Editorial note: While obvious typos have been corrected, the insensitive language used at the time was retained.]

Nez Perces Indian War Series, '77

The Only Series Ever Published

Photographs from Nature of the principal scenes and incidents of the most terrible Indian War on the Pacific Coast, comprising views on Salmon River, Camas Prairie, and Clearwater River, Idaho Co., Idaho.

1 - Original Cabin of Richard Divine, the first victim of the Indians, killed June 13, 1877.
2 - General View of the place where war commenced.
3 - Indian Crossing at John Day.
4 - John Day Burying Ground.
5 - Henry Elfer's John Day Ranch, where H. Elfers, Henry Beckroge and R.S. Bland were killed by the Indians, June 14,1877.
6 - Grand Crystal Cave. Gen. View.
7 - Mouth of Cave.
8 - Interior of Cave, looking east.
9 - Interior of Cave, looking west.
10 - Sherwin Ranch Raided by Indians.
11 - Slate Creek, Stockade and fort.
12 - General view of Slate Creek and Indian Camp-ground.
13 - Indian Camp-ground McKinzie Creek.
14 - Indian Crossing, above Horseshoe Bend.
15 - Indian Burying Ground at Horseshoe Bend.
16 - Indian Crossing, below Horseshoe Bend. (Larry Ott Ranch) showing in background where Gen. Howard and Col. Trimble united their forces.
17 - Indian Camp-ground, below Horseshoe Bond. (Robie Ranch.)
18 - Ruins of Buildings on Osborne's Ranch, where Wm. Osborne, Harry Mason and F. Francois were killed, June 15, 1877.
19 - Harry Mason's Ranch.
20 - Place where Gen. Howard U. S. A. landed on Salmon River, under fire of the Indians.
21 - Artillery Bluff, Salmon River.
22 - Howard's Artillery-road, Baker Gulch.
23 - White Bird Burying Ground.
24 - Benedict Ranch, mouth of White Bird.
25 - Indian Crossing, mouth of White Bird.
26 - Soldiers' Lookouts, overlooking White Bird Canyon.
27 - Indian Camp-ground, White Bird Canyon.
28 - White Bird Battleground, where thirty-six U. S. Soldiers, under command of Col. Perry, were killed, June 17, 1877.
29 - Lake and Drilling Grounds of Chief Joseph and the hostile Indians.
30 - Grangeville, from the south.
31 - [Grangeville, from the] north.
32 - [Grangeville, from the] east.
33 - [Grangeville, from the] west.
34 - Grangeville Stockade.
35 - General View of Cottonwood.
36 - Cottonwood Stockade.
37 - Battle Ground of Cottonwood with Foster Monument.
38 - Camp Howard, overlooking Camas Prairie.
39 - General View of Mt. Idaho.
40 - Miss S. L. McBeth's Presbyterian Indian Schools, Mt. Idaho.
41 - Building in which the first Republican Convention in Idaho Territory was held, 1863.
42 - Mt. Idaho, Hotel and Stockade.
43 - Indian Corral. Rocky Canyon.
44 - South View of Clearwater Battle-ground, July 11, 1877, under command of Gen. Howard.
45 - East View of Clearwater Battleground where thirteen U. S. Soldiers and twenty-three Indians were killed, July 11, 1877.
46 - Too-Lah, friendly Nez Perces Squaw who warned the whites of the Hostile Outbreak.

Any of above views sent postpaid to any address for 5 cts. each, or $5.00 per doz. Address all orders to

ERICHSON & HANSON, Photographers and Publishers,