Description[California Native Americans] 1904 Gesso - Bodie - Paiute - 106 Years Old Photograph. 7.75" x 4.25", mounted to a mat to an overall size of 10" x 7". Photographer, Andrew Alexander Forbes (1862-1921), whose copyright appears at the lower right of the image. Alexander Andrew Forbes took this photo of Gesso and one of his wives in 1904. After the turn of the century Gesso had moved into a hut on the outskirts of town. He was well past his prime when this image was taken, however he had been a wartime Chief of the Paiutes during the 1860s Inyo and Mono County Indian Wars and was known as a fierce warrior. A period note in ink at the top left of the image reads "Indian 106 yrs old". A period caption in ink on the verso establishes that the image was once the property of Bodie Doctor E. R. Brooks. A copy of this photograph was used as an illustration in Ella M. Cain's book The Story of Bodie, published by Fearon/Mother Lode Press in 1956. Fine condition.
Andrew Alexander Forbes (1862-1921) was born in Ottawa Township, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, on April 18, 1862. Although little is known about him, his photographs remain important historical records of the reality of the harsh life in western America. In the late 1880s Forbes made seasonal circuits through Texas and Oklahoma visiting isolated ranches to photograph cowboys and their ranch life. Forbes photographed the cowboys at work as well as capturing them in their off hours doing the more mundane things of life. You'll hardly ever find Forbes's cowboy images yielding to the romantic notions popularized in Hollywood movies. There is an absence of iconic accoutrements in Forbes's images, but they are iconic nonetheless. In 1909 Forbes moved to California where he specialized in mining and commercial photography. His photographs are included in the collections of the Seaver Center for Western History Research in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; the University of Oklahoma Library in Norman, Oklahoma; the Library of Congress; and the Smithsonian Institution National Anthropological Archives, Washington, D.C.
BodieBodie, located in Mono County, California, on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, began as a small mining camp upon the discovery of gold in 1859 by a group of prospectors including William S. Bodey. The prospector died in a blizzard the following November and never got to see the rise of the town that bore his name. For reasons unknown the district's name was changed from "Bodey" to "Body" to the final name of Bodie. Though gold had been discovered at Bodie, the silver of the Comstock Lode outshined it until 1876 when The Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp to a thriving and lively boomtown. Further discoveries drew more fortune seekers to the area and by 1880 Bodie had a population of approximately 5,000-7,000 people (some estimates list the population as high as 10,000) and perhaps as many as 2,000 buildings. Over the years, Bodie's mines produced gold valued at nearly $34 million dollars. Unfortunately, the boom slowly ground to a halt and by 1915 the first reference to Bodie as a ghost town was recorded. By 1920, Bodie's official population was listed as 120 people. Today Bodie is among the best preserved, original ghost town in the West.
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