This photo, from the collection given to me by Bert, fascinates me. I'll admit that I'm searching for a character from the HBO tv show Deadwood when I look at it. One of my all time favorite shows. For some it was just a show full of profanity, but for me that language was like brush strokes on canvas, and I'm a sucker for a good Western. I really loved the incredible beauty of that show and I'm still ticked off that Milch and HBO couldn't get their act together to give it a good send off. So be it.

Click on image to see it larger.

Several years ago I went to Deadwood, South Dakota and I'll admit I was disappointed. The town itself looked historically great, but it was nothing but casinos. Up and down the main drag was one casino after another. I dislike casinos, find them incredibly boring. When it came time to find a place to eat I ended up in Lead, the town where George Hearst had his Homestake mine. No casinos in Lead, just a nice little town.
Lead (pronounced “leed”) is a city in Lawrence County, South Dakota, United States. Lead is located in western South Dakota, in the Black Hills near the Wyoming state line.

The city was officially founded on July 10, 1876, after the discovery of gold. It is the site of the Homestake Mine, the largest, deepest (8240 feet) and most productive gold mine in the Western Hemisphere before closing in January 2002. By 1910 Lead had a population of 8,382, making it the second largest town in South Dakota.

Lead was originally founded as a company town by the Homestake Mining Company, which ran the nearby Homestake Mine. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
This photo was taken by photographer Meddaugh in Lead. I have no information about the subject or the photographer. I did online searches trying to come at it from every angle I could think of and did find some other photos Meddaugh took, but no positive biographical information.

There was a James Ednard Meddaugh living in the county of Lawrence, South Dakota where Lead and Deadwood are located, in 1892. This particular man was married to Serena Edeline Redlon and they had a son, Jamie Arthur Meddaugh, who was born on August 21, 1892. Possibly James Ednard Meddaugh was the person who took this photo.

Click here and you'll see a photo of Devil's Tower taken by Meddaugh. Click here to see a photo of the US Cavalry riding down Main Street, though I'm not sure if it's Deadwood or Lead. The caption doesn't make it clear.

Here's also a link to a site, Ameritribes, with images taken by a photographer named Meddaugh who lived in Rushville, Nebraska. All of the photos are of Native Americans, including one of a Ghost Dance. Same photographer as the one in Lead? I haven't a clue, but hope to someday find more information.

As to the subject of the photo I find this fellow fascinating. Was he a mouse or a monster? He looks so meek in the photo, but was that just a pose? Did he work in a store or perhaps in one of the many mines? Or was he a cold blooded killer in a new suit bought just for this occasion? Okay, it's my imagination running wild, I'll admit it, but that's what I'm going with. He's Billy the Kid in a new suit. Whoever he is, he passed through history and perhaps this is the only trace left.

UPDATE: Leave it to Far Side of Fifty to come through with some info about the photographer. Click here and here to see two shots by this photographer in her collection. And neither of her shots look like possible crazy gunslingers!
Meddaugh was in business from 1862 to 1926, under both the names Robert J or Isaac, it could have been a father and son ?


  1. He Looks Pure Evil! Not A Chap To Turn Your Back On!

  2. He certainly worries me! Great post by the way.

  3. I'm so very glad to know it isn't just me. I felt a wee bit mean posting that he could be something more horrific than he appears, but hey, I posted it anyway. Glad to know you guys see it too.

  4. I have a few photos by Meddaugh at my blog..#191 and #141 and possibly others .
    Here is the info I had
    Meddaugh was in business from 1862 to 1926, under both the names Robert J or Isaac, it could have been a father and son ?

    The decorative trim border is just a little different on my cabinet cards:)

  5. Thanks! Glad to know something biographical about this photographer.

  6. The movie: 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'
    He could be Robert Ford.

  7. Oh yes, I like the idea of that. Jesse James sitting at a dinner table with this fellow.