Set in Stone, Fixed in Glass
by Nelson B. Wadsworth
CHARLES R. SAVAGE
“A Brighter Era has Dawned”
[p.67] In 1861 Charles Roscoe Savage began his photography career in Utah as a partner to Marsena Cannon. In his early thirties, he had just arrived in the Utah territory but had joined the Mormon church almost fifteen years earlier in England. Savage’s father, John Savage, was an impoverished gardener who worked on an old English estate. Because of the family’s poverty, Savage had little education and from an early age worked hard for the family. “I only received nine months’ schooling,” he later wrote, “and that came through the kindness of a lady named Bond.”1
At the age of fifteen, Savage encountered the Mormons. “When I arrived at the age of 14 my mind seemed rather religiously inclined,” he remembered. “During the preceding years of my life, I had not imbibed any religious notions. Neither my mother nor my father upheld any religious system, keeping aloof from the confusion which prevailed.”2 Savage attended various churches with a young companion, Frederick Rodgers. Savage recalled their first meeting with Elder Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, who a handbill had announced “was come to proclaim the coming of an angel”: “Being naturally of a curious turn of mind, I rejoiced that here at last was some food presenting itself for my mental wants. [p.68] I communicated my discovery to Fred who agreed to hear this gentleman, namely, T. B. H. Stenhouse. We accordingly went on a Sunday evening in February, 1848, to a room in Albion Place at the top of the house. But when we arrived, there stood the individual who was to make his debut before a Southampton audience. Anticipating we were come to enjoy a lark at his expense, he told us there was no fire here and held his remarks at that time. He has since told me he did not want to say too much, believing our parents might say he had led us away.”
Still the boys returned to attend Sunday meetings with the Mormons. A few months later on 15 May 1848, they were baptized by Elder John Lewis “in the hole off the Southampton quay.” Charles was not yet sixteen years old, and the baptism was apparently not sanctioned by his family. “I had a hard struggle to get away with the clothes necessary to be baptized in,” Savage recalled. “I was closely watched by my brother, but I succeeded at last in getting to the house of Brother Rodgers after being chased from one street to another.” He described his baptism: “Never shall I forget the impression made upon my mind the few moments we knelt together in prayer previous to baptism. The tears rolled down my cheeks as the fervent prayers of that man of God were sent to heaven. It was, [p.69] as it were, the first dawning of heavenly light in my dark soul…. I truly felt there was a spirit in the work in which I was about to engage. From that time I determined to serve the Lord with all my heart.”
By the next year, with the help of Stenhouse, Savage obtained a job in Newport on the Isle of Wight and left his family in Southampton. He worked with and also proselyted with at least two other young men. The young men had a number of encounters with angry locals, and the presiding Mormon elder “ran away with another sister in the branch.” Savage intended to follow his friend to Manchester, but Stenhouse advised him against this. Eventually his friends were excommunicated for apostasy. “Thus was I preserved from the ignominy of being cut off,” he recalled, “through the medium of Brother Stenhouse, whose name will ever be cherished with love and admiration by me.”
Stenhouse secured Savage a job in a book and stationery store owned by William Eddington in Portsmouth. Savage worked there from the summer of 1851 until Eddington left for the Great Salt Lake Valley in the winter of 1852. Eddington was a learned man and set about to educate the youth from the slums of Southampton. “During my stay with this brother I made considerable advancement in learning,” Savage recalled. “I shall ever cherish the memory of [p.70] Brother Eddington, who took me out of the dust and placed me, as it were, on the road to fame.”
In 1853 the twenty-one-year-old Savage was called on a mission to Switzerland, where Stenhouse had gone a few months before. There, Savage learned French and his education was furthered by exposure to continental culture. He returned to England in 1855, continued to proselyte for the church, and fell in love with Annie Adkins of Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. They became engaged and made plans for marriage, but in December 1855 Savage was recalled to Mormon headquarters in Liverpool and told to prepare to cross the Atlantic Ocean with an emigrating company of Latter-day Saints, most from the continent. “Since many of these Saints spoke the French language, and being able to converse in that tongue, it fell my lot to act as interpreter for them on the voyage,” Savage said. “My fare across the ocean was paid by my brethren.”3 Unfortunately, Annie’s fare was not, and she remained behind in England.
On 10 December 1855 the Mormon company with its 509 members, [p.71] including 437 from Scandinavia, 42 from Great Britain, and 30 from Italy, sailed on the John J. Boyd, a sail-powered freighter. Their crossing was rough. Several passengers died in the winter storms and were buried at sea, and the Boyd rescued the crew from the crippled Louis Napoleon, sailing from Baltimore. The Boyd finally arrived in New York City in mid-February.
Arrangements were made for the newly arrived immigrants to stay in a large hall at Williamsburg near New York City. Apostle John Taylor, then in New York publishing The Mormon, acquired work for the men shoveling snow from sidewalks. “The cold was intense and the snow was very deep,” savage remembered. “This work proved a great help to the Saints. It enabled them to live and earn food for their families.”
On 19 February Savage wrote a letter to Annie back in England: “Now with regard to myself and my prospects, I can say I am first rate in health and spirits. [p.74] I am to stay in New York. The Italian company will go to St. Louis. My home is with my old friend, T. B. H. Stenhouse and his amiable partner. They are roughing it without either chairs or tables but these are small matters when contentment and peace reign supreme. I have every prospect of doing well but cannot just now say what I am going to do. Suffice to say all will be right with me and will still be more so in a few months.” Savage concluded his letter with advice that Annie should pawn his watch in order to get the necessary money for her passage. Annie arrived in New York on 21 June.4 Charles and Annie were married a few days later in the home of Henry Sadler in Brooklyn by Apostle John Taylor. Witnesses included Orson Pratt, Ezra T. Benson, George A. Smith, and William H. Miles, president of the New York Branch.
Many of the Mormon immigrants who arrived in New York in the late winter and spring of 1856 left for Utah that summer, some in the ill-fated handcart companies which were trapped in winter snows in Wyoming that fall. Charles and Annie remained in New York. Eventually Savage found employment in Booth’s Printing Office. He worked there for two years. During this time he was active in the New York Branch, taking charge of the choir.
[p.75] During this time Savage decided to become a photographer, an interest dating back to his missionary days in England. In his diary on the day he was notified to get ready for the ocean voyage, Savage had jotted down the prices of camera equipment: printing frames “$3.00; camera lens complete “35.00 and camera box minus lens $14.00.”5 Stenhouse apparently was the first to encourage Savage in this direction. Stenhouse seems to have brought a camera from England, and both of them experimented with it in New York.6 The two apparently took their first stereograph on Long Island, and when they encountered difficulties in processing they went to a Broadway photographer and asked for assistance. He helped them at the rate of five dollars an hour for instructions, Savage said years later. Because of the “secretive nature” of photography in New York at this time, Savage recalled, it was somewhat difficult to gain access to information.7 New York City was even then the photographic capital of the world, and Savage was learning the latest techniques. There were nearly one hundred portrait galleries in the city around 1855, nearly half of them on Broadway. That same year Mathew Brady was converting his daguerreotype process over to collodion wet-plate. And in 1856 Alexander Gardner, and English photographer, had joined with Brady and developed the process of “enlarging” prints for Brady’s Broadway gallery.8 Savage purchased photographic equipment as early as April 1856, which would indicate he was immersed in the art before he married Annie.9 On 16 July 1857 Annie gave birth to the first of eleven children, but little Charles Stenhouse Savage dies two months later. Another son, Roscoe Eddington was born in New York on 19 June 1858. The following year Savage was sent on church business to Florence, Nebraska Territory, by George Q. Cannon, who was then presiding in the eastern states. Annie and the baby joined him in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the following year. Before heading west Savage purchased a view camera, probably from the Edward Anthony Company in New York.10 He also bought enough photo-[p.76]graphic equipment to set up a crude gallery in Council Bluffs in 1860. He hoped to earn money to outfit his family for the trek west. He set his camera on a wooden tripod, positioned an old grey blanket for a background, and opened “Savage’s Photographic Gallery.” For a darkroom he used an old tea chest and tent. Between January and May of 1860, Savage logged a total income of $274.75 in his diary, including $50 “for giving instructions in the art.” This money was enough to outfit a wagon for Salt Lake City.11
On 13 April 1860 Savage recorded: “Ralph Graham Savage was born at 10 minutes past 11:00 p.m. at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Witnesses: Mrs. Boyd, midwife, and Mrs. Oxborrow, nurse.” On 7 June Savage loaded his wife and two small sons into a new wagon and headed toward Zion. Savage made only vague, casual mention in his diary of attempts to take photographs during the journey. He reported getting “a view of Bluff Ruins and Chimney Rock” and later “a splendid [p.77] view of Devil’s Gate, a remarkable freak of nature.”12 The Savages finally rolled into Salt Lake City at night on 28 August.
The photographer wasted no time getting to work. On his second day in the valley, he was introduced to Marsena Cannon and immediately made arrangements to set up a partnership. Under the verbal agreement the two men would share equally in both expenses and profits. To seal the bargain Savage supplied Cannon with three daguerreotype cases, part of the supplies he had brought from new York. In January 1861, Cannon and Savage opened a new gallery in the :first house north of the Salt Lake House, over Chislett and Clark’s new store.” In their ads in the Deseret News, they offered “photographs, stereoscopes, ambrotypes, melainotypes (tintypes) and pictures on cloth, leather and paper to send by mail.” Their services were offered at “prices as low as can be afforded for good work.”13 But the partnership did not last long. Cannon left for St. George after October Conference in the fall of 1861.14 Later Savage claimed that his gallery had been founded in 1860, and indication that he believed he was maintaining the same business after Cannon departed.15 By 1862 Savage was working with a new partner, an artist rather than a photographer. Thirty-year-old George Martin Ottinger had already circumnavigated the globe as a sailor, worked in a sugar refinery, sold fruit in a produce store, painted miniatures, and tinted photographs. He had joined the Mormon church in Pennsylvania in 1858 and arrived in Salt Lake City in 1861, a year after Savage. Ottinger’s mother had known Savage in the east, and it was only natural that the two young men, both with artistic inclinations, should strike up a close friendship. In 1862 Ottinger was also painting scenery for the new Salt Lake Theater. He later recalled his partnership with Savage: “I commenced coloring photographs, very poor ones at that, taken by C. R. Savage. The first picture I painted I received for pay two and a half gallons of molasses….Mr. Savage was then running a photograph gallery in a little place next to the old Salt Lake House, situated on the east side of Main Street, between First and Second South. He had just started to make ambrotypes—photographs on glass—and was doing [p.78] well in his work. He knew I could paint miniatures, and we soon became mutually interested in photo and miniature business.”16 By 1866 Savage’s career had reached a crisis. Since fellow Englishmen Charles William Carter and Edward Martin had opened galleries in the mid-1860s, competition had become increasingly intense. Savage was frustrated with his crude, antiquated equipment, and he yearned to see what other photographers were doing to make their galleries successful. He particularly longed for a custom-made darkroom wagon which would give him the same portability enjoyed by photographers who had documented the Civil War and whose fame had spread into the remote Mormon valley. The young photographer hit on a risky idea, one which plunged him into immediate debt but eventually enabled his success. He borrowed money to tour the nation’s leading photographic galleries and supply houses. Leaving the gallery in the care of his partner, Savage boarded the Overland Stage, probably in March 1866, and headed toward San Francisco.17 Savage’s detailed account of the long journey which ensued was published in the July 1867 issue of Philadelphia Photographer, one of the popular photographic journals of that day. The stage bounced through Cedar Valley, passed the ruins of Camp Floyd, crossed the Utah-Nevada border, and rolled across the desert basin. “The tourist in search of landscapes will find but very few combinations that will make pictures,” Savage wrote. “The stations are the only objects of particular interest, and a picture of any one of them would be a picture of them all.” Savage changed stages, eventually rode the railroad to Sacramento and then a steamer down the Sacramento River to San Francisco. He was awed by the commerce in the growing metropolis and found “many very fine galleries and spirited, go-ahead photographers.” He was particularly impressed with Carleton E. Watkins, a highly successful photographer, calling him “second to none in either the eastern or western hemispheres.” He found the San Franciscan eager to communicate his techniques to the enthusiastic thirty-four-year-old from Utah. Watkins’s landscape views, particularly those of Yosemite, were receiving [p.79] national and international acclaim. It was inspiring and educational for Savage to be exposed to Watkins’s work and to talk one-on-one with the man who created such high quality albumen prints.
From San Francisco Savage took a steamer to Panama, crossed the Isthmus by railroad, and caught a boat for New York. He was glad to return to the city after seven years. While in New York Savage seems to have cultivated a contact with Harper’s Weekly and possibly other eastern newspapers and magazines. Several of his pictures showed up in 1866 as woodcuts in Harper’s glowing account of the growing Mormon commonwealth in the Great Salt Lake Valley. The spread included woodcuts of Brigham Young and the twelve apostles, a panorama of Salt Lake City, and individual pictures of the Tabernacle under construction, the Beehive House, theater, tithing office, and Old Tabernacle, as well as the architect’s rendering of the temple.18
[p.80] Savage was escorted around the city by H. T. Anthony, a pioneer photographer who founded the world-famous photographic supply house bearing his family’s name. The Utah photographer found a free, open attitude among the New York galleries, which contrasted with his experience in the city ten years before. “Then the intensifier was a profound secret,” he said. “A collodion formula, one of the hidden mysteries; winks, nods, and secrets prevailed; every operator was a scientific Bluebeard, who held the keys of photographic science.…Thank heaven a brighter era has dawned.”
One of the reasons Savage had come east was to outfit a darkroom wagon. In Philadelphia he hired a wagon maker to custom build the equipment to his specifications. Savage described his wagon: “With the exception of being a little too heavy, it answers pretty well; but, like every other thing, it can be improved upon. It is about nine feet long and six feet high in the darkroom, leaving three feet of space in front for carrying a seat and provisions. The sides are filled with [p.81] grooved drawers for different sized negatives, and proper receptacles for the different cameras, chemicals, etc., forming a very complete outdoor darkroom. The principal objection I have to it is, that it will get too hot in the summertime. I propose this year to cover it with white muslin two inches from the outside so as to keep it cooler; the sides are a sheet of iron, for lightness and to obviate shrinking; the body rests on the best platform springs.”19
Savage not only went into debt to build his wagon but also to stock up on chemicals, cameras, and darkroom equipment for his gallery back home. He signed a sizeable note with the Anthonys, picked up his supplies, loaded his wagon on a flatcar, traveled by rail to St. Joseph, Missouri, transferred to a [p.83] riverboat, and made his way to Nebraska City. Along the way he stopped and visited several galleries in the river towns. “I am sorry to admit that matters are at a low ebb at most points on the Missouri River,” he said. “The classical term of ‘one-horse galleries,’ will apply to the palaces of art on the ‘Great Muddy.’”
With two spans of mules and provisions to last two months, Savage joined a Mormon wagon train at Nebraska City and left for Salt Lake City in early July. Savage took pictures of one or two of the overland stations and several rural scenes. When the wagons reached Fort Kearney, a prairie wind was blowing, but Savage still took a picture of the fort, meeting with “indifferent success.” In general he found picture-taking on the frontier frustrating: Very few trees to be seen, and what with the swarms of green flies and mosquitoes, and the strong wind that blows regularly every day, your photographic enthusiasm gets cooled [p.86] down so much that you see nothing worth taking under the circumstances of such a trip.” Still he managed to secure “views” of Chimney Rock, Castle Rock, Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate, and the Wind River Mountains, clad in eternal snow.” He also took pictures of the wagon train itself.
Even more frustrating, Savage’s wagon fell into the water while crossing the Platte River. A large portion of the $3,600 in new supplies was either dumped into the river or water damaged.20
Despite such frustrations, Savage suggested outfitting a wagon train consisting solely of photographers and painters in the retrospective article on his trip published in the Philadelphia Photographer. He even listed the necessary provisions: a Ballard or Henry rifle for each man, waterproof coat and blanket, two pairs of good boots, durable clothing, ham, crackers, yeast powders, dried apples, beans, preserved milk, canned fruits, sardines, light wagons, darkroom tents, and all the necessary cameras, chemicals, plates, and photographic equipment. “I can promise them as good a time as they ever had in their lives,” he concluded. “Prepare to wait one or two days at a point to get good pictures, [p.87] make up their minds not to be in a hurry, and a series of views can be got that will repay the trouble of producing them. And when they get to the City of the Saints, let them call upon Savage & Ottinger, and we will give them the best we have in the shop.”21 Back in Salt Lake City Savage displayed a new sense of artistry as well as sophistication. His reputation as a photographer willing to travel was also good for business. On 4 May 1869 Colonel Silas Seymour, consulting engineer for the Union Pacific, walked into Savage’s gallery and invited him to photograph the laying of the last rail. Daniel Casement, one of the ramrod brothers in charge of the track-laying crew, had visited Savage at his gallery two weeks before and was no doubt impressed enough to talk to Seymour. Savage enthusiastically accepted the invitation.22 The Union Pacific also invited Captain Andrew Joseph Russell or New York City to take pictures of the ceremony. Russell had been taking pictures at the Echo City construction camp and all along the Union Pacific Lines. He had earlier achieved some fame for his view of the railroads during the Civil War. Several other Union Pacific photographers were also to be present, including Steven Sedgwick and J. B. Silvis, who had worked briefly in a gallery in Salt Lake City. The central Pacific photographer was Alfred A. Hart from Sacramento. On 10 May the photographers set up their cameras on the north side of the gap in the railroad tracks, aiming their lenses at the spot where the railroad engineers had agreed the golden spike would be driven. Savage recorded the historic event in his diary: “Today the ceremony of linking the ends of the track took place. I worked like a nigger all day and secured some nice views of the scenes connected with the laying of the last rail….Everything passed off lively and the weather was delightful. Saw but little of the actual driving of the Gold Spike and laying of the laurel tie—as I was very busy. Left the Promontory at five and reached Ogden at 10 o’clock. Cracked champagne with Bro. Jennings and others at West Hotel, where I stayed for the night.”
Two days later Savage sent Harper’s Weekly a complete selection of views and [p.89] less than a week later reported net sales of Promontory pictures at his gallery totaling $125. One of Savage’s views appeared in Harper’s within the month. Two of Russell’s prints made it quickly into Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly. There was later some confusion about which photographers took which photographs because all three set up their equipment in approximately the same position. Russell and probably Savage and Hart had also set up stereoscopic cameras to record the scenes in binocular perspective for three-dimensional parlor stereoscopes. Two-dimensional prints could be made from these. These prints complicate sorting out who photographed what that day.23
Whatever the confusion over who took what pictures, the day foregrounded an important transition taking place within the territory—a transition which was affecting the development of photography as well. The coming of the railroad ended Utah’s isolation. Not only did the railroad builders bring photographers such as Russell and Hart into the territory, but photographers were also [p.90] a part of mapping and surveying teams. The value of photography as a documentary tool had been demonstrated by Mathew Brady and other Civil War photographers. The collodion wet-plate process would prove valuable aids to the ambitious survey of the western frontier known as the U.S. Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel which got under way in 1867. Clarence King was the art-loving, Yale-educated director of the first of these surveys sponsored by the War Department and funded by Congress. Early on he recognized the usefulness of photography to the geologist, not only to document features of the land but also to influence decision makers in Washington.
Russell, who photographed events at Promontory with Savage, began photographing for the government survey in 1869 after documenting the construction of the transcontinental railroad.24 He joined Timothy O’Sullivan, who had been Brady’s chief assistant during the Civil War, and their work would draw a number of eastern photographers west. New Yorker William Henry Jackson’s photos would be instrumental in winning for Yellowstone the status of becoming America’s first national park.25
[p.91] Photographer E. O. Beaman of New York City was hired by John Wesley Powell, the intrepid explorer of the Colorado River between 1869 and 1872. However, Powell found Beaman “lazy and something less than first class,”26 and in 1871 James Fennemore of Salt Lake City was hired to take his place. Powell had met Fennemore the summer before at the C. R. Savage Art Bazar in Salt Lake City, where Fennemore worked as Savage’s darkroom assistant and had made prints of Beaman’s negatives for Powell.27 Fennemore had to leave the expedition a short time later because of ill health.28 He achieved greater notoriety a few years later as the sole photographer at the execution of John D. Lee at Mountain Meadows. Fennemore made pictures of Lee and the firing squad, the most famous showing the convicted murderer sitting on the edge of his coffin just before the execution.29
The government photographers were well equipped and subsidized to travel [p.92] into spectacular, remote places never before photographed. Because of the romance of their adventures and the public-relations savvy of their survey leaders, their photographs and exploits were much heralded in Congress and the eastern press. In contrast, Savage had to worry about print sales, money to purchase supplies, and debts which still plagued him. Despite such limitations and without the national acclaim, Savage managed to photograph many of the same landscapes.
The firm of Savage and Ottinger lasted until sometime in the mid-1870s, but friendship between the two artists continued. Both had achieved success. By mutual agreement the partnership was dissolved.
Ottinger had painted scenery in the Salt Lake Theater shortly after the building was completed in 1862 and by 1867 found himself more and more involved there. He later recalled, “So much of my time was taken up with [p.93] theatricals and scene painting that I retired from the firm of Savage and Ottinger in 1867, but after that Mr. Savage and I traveled about the country a great deal, he making photographs and I sketching.”30 When Ottinger retired from active participation in the gallery, the name was changed to Savage’s Art Bazar, later known as the Pioneer Art Bazar, a business specializing in portrait and landscape photography, stationery, a dm art supplies.
The year 1870 was an eventful one for Savage. In the spring he traveled with Brigham Young and other church leaders to Virgin River country in southern Utah, visiting Mormon settlements in the south. One striking picture survives of the entire traveling party on the desert at the junction of the Virgin and Colorado rivers.
Savage later described a photographic side trip he took: “As a souvenir of my visit, I took views of the party on the river bank. I left the part there [St. [p.94] George] to go to Little Zion Valley on a spur of the Rio Virgin, on a photographic trip. It was given out that thousands could find a hiding place there, so my ambition was aroused to see it. Some enthusiast had reported the place to President Young as a veritable Zion. Call it ‘Little Zion,’ said he, and that is the name it still bears.”31
Unfortunately no known pictures from Savage’s trip to what is now Zion National Park have apparently survived. If he did take pictures of the breath-taking geologic features of the region, he would have been the first to photograph them. Jack Hillers, acknowledged as the first to photograph this spectacular landscape, did not make his pictures until the spring or summer of 1872.32 Only a few Savage photographs with possible southern Utah wagon surrounded by cactus, probably taken in Nevada south of St. George from the size of the desert plants. Another photo poses a group of people with horses on [p.95] eroded cliffs. Still another shows a wagon along the banks of the Virgin River.33
Three months later in November 1870 the photographer found himself in the middle of an odd footnote to history, a controversy erupting between Mormons and federal appointees. Savage was an officer in the Third Regiment Band of the Utah Militia (Nauvoo Legion).34 The regiment had received new instruments and mustered in full uniform for a drill accompanied by martial music at the 20th Ward Square. In doing so they were ignoring the late governor J. Wilson Shaffer’s order that there be no musters, drills, or gathering of armed persons within the territory. Most of the older men in the militia were armed, and some of the younger ones carried wooden guns.
Territorial secretary George A. Black hastened to the scene, wrote down the names of the regiment’s principal officers, and had warrants issued for their arrests. Under the complaint, Savage, Ottinger, and others were charged with [p.98] “treason and rebellion or insurrection against the United States.” The men were bound over to await the action of the grand jury with bail set at $2,000 or $5,000 depending on rank. During their preliminary hearing, the Mormon officers were held under house arrest for ten days in officer quarters at Fort Douglas. There they were freely visited by friends, who showered them with attention and gifts. Orson F. Whitney described the affair in his History of Utah: “The treatment accorded them during their stay at Camp Douglas indicates the public sentiment at the time. Mormon and non-Mormon merchants furnished them with delicacies, in addition to the ample rations of food provided at the fort, and General Morrow…allowed them the full liberty of the camp, where they were given every accommodation and comfort the place afforded.”35 Eventually the grand jury refused to indict them and the whole affair an opera bouffe in Utah history.36
Savage continued to travel through the west, cultivating a mutually beneficial relationship with railroads, principally the Union Pacific and Denver and Rio Grande Western. These companies supplied Savage with free passes and private railroad cars, and he repaid them by taking pictures and writing glowing accounts of his trips for the Salt Lake City newspapers. His “Views of the Great West” were sold as stereoscopic series and also in postcards and travel folders used to entice tourists to travel by rail. In the spring of 1883, Savage updated the technology of his gallery. He changed from wet-plate to dry-plate photography. “The dry plate,” he wrote, “is a great saving of time and labor. I am learning photography de nouveau.”37 Dry plates had been introduced in Germany and France as early as 1878 but were not in general use in the United States until 1881. They began appearing in western galleries about 1882.38
Tragedy struck the Savage gallery in the summer of 1883. Shortly after midnight on 21 June, flames were discovered in the business of Hiram B. Clawson adjacent to the Council House on the corner of East Temple and South Temple streets. The fire spread despite heroic efforts by the Salt Lake City Fire [p.99] Brigade and the Walker Brothers Fire Company.
It ignited a powder magazine on Clawson’s property, and the explosion rocked Salt Lake City. Windows were broken for blocks around. The flames spread to Savage’s Art Bazar, leveling the gallery and destroying Savage’s entire negative file, his camera, darkroom, and studio. Among the negatives destroyed were those taken on his wagon trek across the plains in 1866 and the driving of the Golden Spike in 1869.39 In a smoke-charred, coverless, water-damaged diary, Savage wrote: “Store destroyed by fire—twelve years of hard work went up in smoke.”40
Savage lost no time in rebuilding. The new Art Bazar opened before Christmas 1883, only six months later. Savage was embarking on an even more ambitious photographic venture. Handbills distributed to prospective customers contained mock telegrams from a wide array of world leaders, including President Chester Arthur, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Queen Victoria, Dom [p.100] Pedro of Brazil, the president of France, and the king of the Sandwich Islands.
“Sorry I cannot get time to go to Utah this year, but will be sure to give you a call when I do come,” said President Arthur. “Success to the Utah artists, and yourself in particular.” “I cannot come myself, but will send all my family to be photographed in your new Art Bazar,” said Queen Victoria. “United Germany is all aglow,” added the Kaiser. “The newspapers are filled with long accounts of the opening ceremonies of the great western Bazar.” “Sorry to learn of your loss,” said one “telegram” signed by Lorne and Louise, “but we are glad you are on your pins again, old boy. We often admire your views.” To advertise his new gallery and stationery store, Savage also began publishing “occasionally and gratuitously” a little newspaper, The Busy Bee.
With his free passes over various railroads, Savage traveled frequently to both the east and west coasts. On a trip to San Francisco in 1877, he looked [p.102] up his old friends, the Stenhouses, who by then had left the Mormon church and were living off royalties of their Mormon exposés. Savage found Mrs. Stenhouse in what he described as “a poorly-furnished, lowly abode” and recorded his feelings about the visit with his once close friend: “She commenced enquiring after my family, and if I had another wife, etc. etc. When I told her the facts, she gave me a short, venomous harangue against everything Mormon, and polygamy in particular.”41 Savage returned to San Francisco in 1878. This time he looked up his old partner, Marsena Cannon.42 Savage also visited Mrs. Stenhouse again. “She was more agreeable and less vinegar in her talk than a year ago,” he said. “She cares more for her old friends than her new ones. Apostasy had not enlarged her circle of friends—but those she had gone back on were her only true ones.”43 This was apparently Savage’s last contact with the Stenhouses. T. B. H. Stenhouse, the missionary who had converted Savage and was instrumental in getting him into photography, died in San Francisco on 7 March 1882. Fanny Stenhouse died on 18 April 1904 in Los Angeles.44
Savage was a staunch advocate of the Mormon principle of plural marriage. In 1876 he took a second wife, twenty-five-year-old Mary Emma Fowler from England, and the following year he married his third, thirty-two-year-old Ellen Fess, also from England.45 Savage had been granted United States citizenship on 16 March 1864 in Salt Lake City,46 but his citizenship was abruptly revoked after passage of the anti-polygamy Edmunds Bill in 1883. Savage wrote in his diary: “The Edmunds Bill has become law. I am no longer a citizen. My vote is taken from me and the right to hold office of trust politically. I submit. But my satisfaction as a citizen of the U.S. is gone. I look with pride upon the government of Old England more than ever. Business as yet unaffected. But the future looks ominous.”47
Savage had deep religious feelings about polygamy. He refrained from writing in his diary about domestic arrangements, but his views are clear when he writes about the national debate over the Edmunds-Tucker Bill in 1886 and [p.105] 1887. “Goodbye to liberty in Utah,” he wrote in his diary when Congress passed the repressive anti-polygamy law in 1887.
Shortly after President Cleveland signed the legislation, Savage recorded his worries that the church was responding to national pressure because of polygamy: “I put this statement on record, that the death knell of plural marriage is sounded in the Valleys of Utah. Could we have had the nerve to have maintained our faith in spite of all consequences, we should have triumphed. But the love of comfort, ease and enjoyment of life has robbed us of that devotion to principle that should characterize the people of God….A loss of such, a loss of concrete action and gradual fading away of the Gospel patriotism that marked the devotion of earlier Mormons to the cause.”48
Given these beliefs, it is not surprising that Savage was disappointed by LDS church president Wilford Woodruff’s 1890 Manifesto ending plural marriage. [p.106]
“The authorities maintain that the revelation of God caused them to relinquish the practice of polygamy,” Savage wrote a year later. “Can God not foresee the issue of such a movement, and cannot He overrule all things to further His plans if we have not abused our privileges? I am looking for an instance in the history of the former-day Saints where they renounced a part of their faith. Suppose we are asked to renounce any other part of our faith will we do it? To stop all marriages might be right to renounce the principle will be wrong. Much feeling is exercised by those interested among the Saints.”49 In 1895 Savage would marry his fourth wife, a forty-eight-year-old widow, Mrs. Annie Smith Clows.
After Savage’s citizenship was revoked, the railroads took away his free [p.107] passes. “Today, I get the disagreeable information that my facilities for transportation over the CP and SP are at an end,” he wrote in March 1887. “Cause: the interstate law. What may happen in the future, I do not know.” A few days later the other railroads followed suit. “Home, sweet home is my motto from this time forward.”50 The passes were eventually reinstated, and the noted railroad photographer would continue his travels, often in special railroad cars. In the midst of the church’s difficulties over polygamy, the Art Bazar managed to prosper. At the end of 1890 Savage recorded in his diary that his volume of business during the December Christmas season had been $17,000, and about $5,000 more than any previous year.
Despite his disappointments about polygamy, Savage continued to support [p.108] the Mormon church hierarchy and to sing in the Tabernacle Choir.
For Savage singing was almost as important as photography, so plans to lay the capstone on the Salt Lake City temple in 1892 presented him with a dilemma: Should he take pictures of the elaborate ceremonies or should he sing in the choir? He managed to do both. He sang in the choir, and his technicians helped him take photographs of this great celebration, photographs which were equal to or better than those of other photographers at the capstone ceremony.
By next April, Savage was in Chicago making plans for an exhibit of photographs at the World’s Fair. His friend George Ottinger was the director of the Department of Fine Art for Utah at the fair.51 “The Fair is not ready,” he wrote in his diary. “It is the most magnificent affair the world ever saw.”52 He arrived back in Chicago in September and arranged to board with J. H. Crockwell during the five days he would be there. “First day at the Fairgrounds,” he wrote, “trying to enjoy the feast of wonders gathered together from all parts of the world. No such an exhibition was ever before seen.
I saw the first of its [p.110] kind in 1857 in London; the second at the Centennial in 1876; now this crowning effort of man’s skill. It eclipses all my previous opportunities….I make an exhibit myself of landscape photos—[William Henry] Jackson of Denver and myself being the only U.S. photographers that are making a show. His views are larger and better printed than mine—showing his superior facilities. As awards are not made, I stand a poor show of official recognition.”53 In the fall after his return home, Savage was notified that his exhibit at the fair had been awarded a medal and diploma, awards probably received by Jackson as well.
When Savage returned home from the Columbian Exposition, he found his first wife Annie ill from a lingering kidney disorder. In the months to come she would gradually worsen. Business in the Art Bazar was also falling off, and he would lament that fall his receipts for the year “were the poorest in many years.” In the October general conference, Mormon leaders urged people to sustain “home industries” to help improve a sagging territorial economy then feeling the effects of the national “panic of 1893.” This was “a movement which was much appreciated,” Savage wrote. In a gesture of support, he gave up half of his Main Street window for a free display of homemade goods.54 Savage wrote of this difficult period: “A period of depression has affected the entire West….Nearly all the mills in Colorado have shut down and all the minor ones in Utah have closed up. The only hope of relief lies in the free coinage of silver. Otherwise the West will go back to Hades. General prostration will follow. Fortunately, I am not much in debt and am doing all I can to get entirely clear so as to be ready for all emergencies.”55 On Thanksgiving day 1893 Annie suddenly grew worse. Savage called in Mormon elders to administer a healing blessing to his wife, and while they were blessing her, she died. At year’s end Savage wrote, “This is the saddest month of my life. I have tried to meet the bereavement like a man. The children have done the same. They all acted well and have continued to do so since Mamma died. Business has fallen off, but I have managed to get enough to pay my debts and on the 30th of the month I was able to pay every dollar I owed.”56
[p.113] Dramatic changes in photography were adversely affecting business such as the Art Bazar in the early 1890s. “Nearly everybody is becoming a photographer,” Savage wrote in 1894. “Business is changing to developing and finishing views for amateurs. The great improvements in reproductive photography have killed wood engraving and kindred arts. Most of the magazines now published are illustrated by photo engravings—the demand for views is gradually falling off.”57 Savage was observing the effects of George Eastman’s Kodak, the camera designed for the common man. “Anybody can use it,” advertised the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company. “Just pull the cord, turn the key and press the button.”
The effects of time also began catching up with Savage. On his sixty-second birthday in 1894, he posed for his portrait in the gallery, the camera operated by his son Ralph. As the years passed by, Raloph and another son George shouldered more and more of the work in the business, the elder Savage shooting pictures less and less.
He turned more of his attention to people in need. He was founder of Utah Old Folk’s Day, at one time an annual, mid-summer excursion for the elderly to nearby towns and resorts. Savage’s daughter later recalled how he got the idea: “John Daynes and family used to live in the house on the northwest corner of F Street and South Temple Street. Whenever father would pass their place, he would see John Daynes’ mother, an old lady, sitting on the porch. She was there day after day, year after year, whenever weather would permit, and he would wonder if she ever went outside of the yard. He thought there must be other old people that did the same thing. He felt sorry for Mrs. Daynes and the idea came to him that it would be a fine thing to give all old people an outing once a year.”58 Savage gained support from the Presiding Bishopric of the Mormon church. The first outing for nearly two hundred “old folks,” mostly in their seventies, was a train ride to Tooele and a steamer ride on the Great Salt Lake.59 A monument honoring Savage for his service to the elderly still stands on the southeast corner of Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
[p.117] On 27 March 1896 a young graduate from the University of Utah named Joshua Reuben Clark, Jr., was “running the light” for Savage at a lantern slide lecture in Lehi. The following September, twenty-four-year-old Clark, then schoolmaster at the high school in Heber City, married Savage’s daughter, Luacine, in the Salt Lake temple. Savage observed of his new son-in-law “Reub,” who would later become a member of the LDS First Presidency, “He is a very earnest and honest talker and will be a man of mark someday.”
Savage retired from active management of his gallery in 1906, although he still spent much of his time there. On 6 January 1909 he recorded in his diary $105,668 in sales for the previous year with nearly $23,000 in accounts receivable.
This was balanced against an indebtedness of $12,000. “This is the greatest amount ever on the books,” he wrote. This entry would be the final accounting of his business. It was one of the final entries Savage would make in the personal [p.120] diary he kept most of his life.
Two weeks after he had tallied up the receipts at the beginning of 1909, Savage spent the day at the home of a “Brother McCune” in Ogden. “An enjoyable time,” he wrote in his diary.60 This was the last entry.
The following Saturday at the gallery, he complained of “feeling poorly,” and George sent him home. Shortly after midnight, 3 February 1909, he died of heart seizure at his home in Salt Lake City.
“Charles R. Savage called by death,” headlined the Deseret News that afternoon on the front page. “One of the most beloved men in Utah succumbs to [p.124] heart failure.”
The assembly Hall on Temple Square “was taxed to its utmost capacity” the next Sunday at the photographer’s funeral. Among the speakers were church dignitaries Charles W. Nibley, James Talmage, and John R. Winder, first counselor in the First Presidency. Church president Joseph F. Smith was out of town but sent word that he was “bitterly disappointed” he could not be present; he greatly loved and revered Mr. Savage and was sorry that he was unable to be present to voice his sentiments in person.”61
Alfred Lambourne, painter, poet, and life-long friend of Savage, recalled the many places he and the photographer had visited “from coast to coast in this broad land.” “Though C. R. Savage was among the most cheerful men, yet, perhaps, when I last talked with him, life had taken on a more solemn hue,” Lambourne said. “It was like the Alpine glow that rested on the Sierra snows at the end of that day by the shores of the beautiful lake…beneath the marvelous cliffs of Yosemite, amid the shadowy solitude of the Mariposa Grove, by the thundering waters of Shoshone, by the Columbia River, looking on the snow-covered cones of Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta, upon the expanse of cactus and sand of the Gila Deaert, amid the wonders of Yellowstone Canyon….But what all of human existence. We shall talk no more of the mysteries of life and death, as we did in the year gone by. Hail to thee friend and farewell!”62
Of all the photographers who photographed the Salt Lake temple, Savage was by far the most prolific and influential. His inspiration spread far beyond the confines of his work. He was, after all, mentor to most of the temple’s photographers—the majority of whom at one time or another worked under his watchful eye in the Art Bazar either as teenage helpers or adult darkroom assistants. Unfortunately, the fire in 1883 destroyed the bulk of the negatives of his historic work up to that time. The negatives he produced after that have also been lost primarily because his descendants did nothing to preserve them. On the other hand, literally thousands of his original prints, either the earlier [p.125] albumen or later Solio variety, have been preserved in various archives or in private collections.
Because he was a fine pictorial photographer, as well as a meticulous darkroom technician, the majority of his surviving prints have fading only minimally. They today command high prices from collectors and secure him a permanent place in a Mormon and Utah history and the history of western photography.
1. The elder Savage tried unsuccessfully to develop a blue dahlia, for which a great reward had been offered. Little is known about Charles’s mother, Ann Rogers, or his brothers, George and James, and his sister, Ann, because they remained in England. Charles rarely mentioned them in later life. Luacine A. Savage Clark, “Life Sketch of Charles Roscoe Savage,” unpublished manuscript, C. R. Savage Collection, Archives and manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. See also C. R. Savage, unpublished manuscript dictated by himself, in a “Family Book of Remembrance,” donated by Mrs. Ivor Clark Sharp, C. R. Savage Collection.
3. C. R. Savage, “An Ocean Voyage in a Sailing Ship, Crossing the Ocean in the Fifties with a Company of Emigrants,” unpublished manuscript, a prepared talk to a Mormon youth group, contained in Savage Book of Remembrance.
5. It is possible that this entry made later after arriving in New York. Another note in the same book lists the name of “Victor M. Griswold, patented July 15, 1856, improved collodion for photographic pictures.” Griswold developed a technique for putting collodion emulsion on any surface, including tin. He began manufacturing “ferrotype plates” in 1856 which were similar to what later became known as “tintypes.” Newhall, The History of Photography (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1964), 63.
6. Emma Jane Savage Jensen, the photographer’s youngest daughter, remembered that Stenhouse “brought from England the first stereoscope camera ever seen in America.” Clark, 2. Another daughter, Luacine A. Savage Clark, remembered that Stenhouse “had a photograph gallery in Brooklyn at the time.” Ibid., 4.
10. Savage, “A Photographic Tour.” Savage mentions meeting an old friend, H. T. Anthony on his return to New York years later. The Edward Anthony Company, later the E. and H. T. Anthony Company, was the foremost photographic supply house in New York for many years.
11. Savage Diary, 30 Apr. 1860. None of the Savage photographs taken during that five-month period seems to have survived. Because of the primitive surroundings and meager equipment, the picture were probably not of best quality.
15. The year 1860 appeared in the embellished art work on the backside of savage’s popular cartes de visite in later years. No doubt some of Savage’s and Cannon’s work became mixed during their brief partnership. A few prints published later carried both by-lines. One example is a Cannon photograph of the Deseret Store and Tithing Office on East Temple and South Temple streets—where the Hotel Utah stands today. Yellow, faded albumen prints of this view with Savage’ s imprint are found in an old album in the Beehive House.
16. Heber G. Richards, “George M. Ottinger, Pioneer Artist of Utah,” 4, excerpts from his journal lent to Richards by Ottinger’s son, George N. Ottinger, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah.
21. The editors of the Philadelphia Photographer acknowledge receiving a set of prints Savage took o n the plains, but since photoengraving had not yet been invented and the publication was primarily a technical journal, none was reproduced. The subjects included “a Mormon campe, preparing to start across the plains; a home in Nebraska; O’Fallon’s Bluff; [p.127] Sweetwater and Castle Rock.” Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene, A Social History, 1839-1889 (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1938), 491n299.
23. Russell’s best photograph of the day was not reproduced in a publication until years later. This photograph was so similar to the Savage view which had appeared in Harper’s Weekly years earlier that many concluded the Russell photo had also been taken by Savage. Russell’s photo makes clear that a champagne bottle was edited out of the hands of the participants by Harper’s. Only recently has Russell finally received credit for his picture, His negatives ended up in the hands of one of the another Union Pacific photographers, Stephen J. Sedgwick, and were donated to the American Geographical Society in 1940-41. Sedgwick spent a number of years lecturing about the Pacific Railroad and with his talk showed a series of lantern slides made from Russell’s and other negatives. William D. Pattison, a professor of geography at the University of Chicago, examined the railroad collection in 1962 and found the original glass plates of Russell’s two-year photographic tour of the Union Pacific Railroad. William D. Pattison, “The Pacific Railroad Rediscovered,” Geographical Review 52 (1962): 28. See also Bradley W. Richards, “Charles R. Savage, the Other Promontory Photographer,” Utah Historical Quarterly 60 (Spring 1992).
Although Russell’s original negatives have been preserved, Savage’s were destroyed in a gallery fire. Russell apparently left his negatives in Sedgwick’s safekeeping at the lecturer’s Long Island home after Russell had returned to New York from the West. Sedgwick was also a personal friend of Savage and probably used some of the Utah photographer’s views as well as Russell’s in his lectures. See letter to Savage from Sedgwick at Almhurst, Queens, 12 Apr. 1907, Savage Scrapbook, Savage Collection. Sedgwick says he had in his library “about 50 volumes of books…and about 200 transparancies for the lantern that I use in my lectures on Utah.” The letter suggests an intimate friendship between Savage and Sedgwick.
29. Fennemore was born in London, England, on 7 September 1849. He came to America at the age of sixteen and made his way to Philadelphia. There he learned photography in one [p.128] of the galleries and soon came west on a wagon train to Salt Lake City. He was apparently working for Savage in 1869 and was still there in 1871 when Major Powell found him.
34. Savage’s Book of Remembrance contains his commission as a 1st Lieutenant of Infantry, 3rd Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, Great Salt Lake Military District of the Militia of Utah Territory. The commission is dated 28 January 1867 and is signed by Charles Durkee, territorial governor.
36. The incident was cited by some in Salt Lake City to prove that Latter-day Saints were in open rebellion against the United States. Roberts concluded: “But no one knowing the lieutenant general of the Legion and the personnel of his staff, can think that they would undertake a test of these questions in a manner so absurd. It was an informal gathering of militia men in uniform and with guns, it is true, but all living in one ward—neighbors—and met for a few hours of amusement with a juvenile band, and with some boys present with wooden guns, doubtless to mimic the drill of the older men and give a name to the episode…” (A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1930], 5:356).
49.Ibid., 10 Dec. 1891.