LLR Books

Philemon T. Herbert

Lincoln leaving the Willard

Philemon T. Herbert was a crooked lawyer, a card shark, frequented brothels, and stood accused of attacking a political rival with a knife. In other words, he fit right in with the rough and tumble environment of California in the early 1850’s, so much so that the good voters of that state sent him to Congress as a Representative from the vast Mariposa district south of Sacramento. 

A native Alabaman, Herbert kept up his carousing with his fellow Southrons once he’d arrived in Washington, and it was with vicious hangovers that he and his friend William Gardiner stumbled into the dining room of Willard’s Hotel at 11 a.m. on the morning of May 8, 1856. Willard’s Hotel (in the background below) was the best hotel that D.C. had to offer.

 The dining room was virtually empty. The Dutch Ambassador, Monsieur Devois sat quietly finishing his breakfast, and waiters Jerry Riordin, Thomas Keating, Jerry Quinn, and his brother Charles were polishing glassware and setting the room for dinner. Herbert growled out an order for breakfast, requesting that Riordin bring him something “damn quick.” One month as a waiter had already given Riordin the ability to size up a difficult customer, and he brought Herbert what he could, telling the Congressman that as per Willard Hotel rules, breakfast was not served after 10:30 a.m., absent special permission from the temperamental French chef, Monsieur Devionese.

Herbert wanted a full breakfast, and he wanted it now. “Clear out you damned Irish son of a bitch,” he told Riordin, who scampered to the kitchen to talk to Devionese and find out if the gentleman from California could be accommodated. Herbert brooked no delay, and ordered Thomas Keating to get him some breakfast.

“I shan’t do it.” Thomas responded, “you already have one boy waiting on you.”
“Go get us some breakfast or go away from here, you damned Irish son of a bitch.” This was more than Keating was willing to stomach. He muttered something under his breath, and now things became truly heated; Herbert stood up and threw his plate at Thomas. Never one to back down from a fight, the 200 pound Irishman responded by throwing a chair in Herbert’s general direction, both of them missed. They charged each other, and grappled in the center of the room.

The waiters stood silently by, watching the fight. Patrick Keating, Thomas’ brother was startled by the sound of breaking crockery, and came charging into the room. He attempted to brain Herbert with a chair, but instead hit his brother. Gardiner joined the fight, pulling Patrick off and knocking him down with a blow to the jaw, and then freed Herbert by knocking Thomas in the back of the head with a chair. Thomas stumbled, but kept his balance. With his hands finally free, Herbert drew his derringer with his right hand, and grabbed Thomas’ collar with his left.

Placing the gun against Thomas’ chest, the Honorable Congressman Philemon T. Herbert looked into the Irishman’s eyes for a moment, then he pulled the trigger. The lead shot went straight through Thomas’ lungs, and embedded itself underneath his shoulder blade. A few minutes later, Thomas Keating was dead, having devoted his last breath to call for a member of the clergy.

Herbert voluntarily turned himself in a few hours later. The United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Philip Barton Key II, requested $10,000 bail, which two friends of Herbert promptly raised. That evening, Herbert, Key and the two friends had dinner together. Even in that day and age, it was unusually for an attorney to have dinner with the man he would be prosecuting for murder, but Key’s moral scruples were only slightly less strident than Herbert’s. The son of Francis Scott Key, and the nephew of Chief Justice Roger Taney, it was political influence which won Key his position as a United States Attorney. Reputedly the handsomest man in Washington, Key was in the throes of a passionate affair with 18-year-old, Teresa Sickles, the wife of Daniel E. Sickles, Representative from New York State.

Out on bail, Herbert returned to Congress, where Ebenezer Knowlton put forward a motion to censure and expel him. Congress that year had been particularly violent. Representative Granger of New York had engaged in fisticuffs with Representative McMullen of Virginia. Horace Greeley, editor of The New York Tribune had been hit twice over the head with a cane by Representative Rust of Arkansas, but suffered no injuries; the rival New York Herald quipped “Greeley’s head [is] harder than it looks to be.” 

Most famous of all was the attack on the floor of Congress itself by Preston Brooks on Charles Sumner, which was so severe that it left Sumner crippled. For the expulsion vote, Herbert could count on support from the Know-Nothings, who were anti-Irish, and from Southern Democrats, who wanted Hebert around in case the Presidential election of 1856 devolved upon the House and his vote was needed. The motion was defeated by a majority of nine.

“There is a volume of instruction in that vote,” wrote the Herald, “the men who are in favor of Freedom respect the rights of all, no matter how humble; the men who support Slavery draw a broad line between what are called the upper and lower classes, treading upon those who serve as the would upon dogs.”

Southern papers could not have agreed more. The editor of the Montgomery Mail opined “Mr. Herbert…was attacked by a mob of waiters at his hotel in Washington. He promptly put a bullet through the head waiter, and then surrendered to the authorities. There is no doubt he acted in self defense. It is getting time that hotel waiters a little farther north were convinced that they ARE servants, and not gentlemen in disguise. We hope that this affair will teach them prudence.”

Herbert continued to serve in Congress, and after some diplomatic wrangling resulting from the Dutch Ambassador’s refusal to testify, the trial got belatedly got underway in July. Aided by a sympathetic judge and the less than zealous prosecution led by Key, the first jury couldn’t reach a verdict, and was dismissed. “The influences at work to defeat justice during the first trial of Herbert were so strong and palpable,” stated The Ripley Bee, “and the evidence of the partiality of the Judge toward the prisoner was so positive as to rouse a strong feeling of indignation in Washington.” The Judge and Key ignored popular opinion and a second jury, handpicked by Key to ensure an acquittal, found that the homicide was justified.

He returned to California to seek reelection, but while he’d been away a tide of reform had swept the state. The San Francisco Bulletin reported “the homicide was the observed of all observers yesterday as he went about the streets. People looked at him as they would look at a loathsome monster, out of mere curiosity, and not from any respect or desire to make his acquaintance. He was in company with a lot of well known gamblers all day, from whom he probably meets a warm reception.”

The gamblers may have been pleased to see him, but not the citizenry. Thousands of Californians signed a petition requesting that he leave the state; which members of the Vigilance Committee presented to him along with a veiled threat that if he didn’t quit the state, he could be expect to be greeted with a hempen cord by a lynch mob.

Herbert fled south to El Paso, and opened a law practice. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he recruited a cavalry brigade, which he grandly named Herbert’s Battalion of Arizona Calvary. Decimated by two years of war, the battalion was broken up, and Herbert found himself elected to the Confederate Congress in 1863. He resigned in 1864, took up his old rank as Lieutenant Colonel and joined the Seventh Texas Calvary. Wounded during the Battle of Sabine Crossroads, he died in June, 1864.


Philemon Herbert’s other Irishman was John Herbert Kelly (March 31, 1840 – September 4, 1864) was a career United States Army officer. During the Civil War, Kelly was the youngest brigadier general in the Confederate States Army at the time of his promotion and one of the youngest generals to die during the war at the age of 24.
Kelly was born in 1840 to Isham Kelly and Elizabeth Herbert. His father died while in Cuba when John was four, and his mother died three years later. His grandmother Harriet Herbert Hawthorne took responsibility of the young orphan.
At about seventeen he received an appointment to West Point through the help of his uncle, Congressman Philemon Herbert and another relative Congressman William W. Boyce. A few months before his graduation in 1861 his home state of Alabama seceded from the Union and Kelly left West Point and headed to Montgomery where he joined the Confederate Army with the rank of second lieutenant.
In 1862 Kelly was appointed major of the 9th Arkansas Infantry Battalion, which he led into battle at Shiloh. One month later Kelly became colonel of the 8th Arkansas Infantry Regiment.
Later in 1862 he fought at the Battle of Murfreesboro where he was wounded. In October of that year he fought at the Battle of Perryville. Kelly commanded a large brigade of men at Chickamauga. He lost 300 men at Chickamauga within the one hour and had a horse shot out from under him. Because of his bravery at the Battle of Chickamauga generals Cleburne, Liddell, and Preston asked for a promotion for Kelly. General Cleburne told Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon of Kelly, "I know no better officer of his grade in the service." On November 16, 1863, John Kelly was promoted to a brigadier general at age 23. Kelly's brigade was one of the key factors at the Battle of Pickett's Mill that lead to the Confederate victory.
In August 1864 Kelly's Brigade fought heavily in Franklin, Tennessee. While leading a charge at a skirmish near Franklin on August 20, Kelly was shot in the chest by a Union sharpshooter. He was too badly hurt to be moved and was forced to be left and captured by Union forces on September 3. Kelly died the following day in his bed.
He was buried in the gardens of the Harrison House just south of Franklin on the day of his death. Local residents bought him a coffin and the new clothing he was buried in, except for the uniform coat which he died wearing. Later in 1866 his body was moved and reburied in the Magnolia Cemetery.

Mathew B. Brady

In 1858, Mathew Brady established a gallery at 352 Pennsylvania Ave in, DC.

633 Pennsylvania Ave held studios of photographer Mathew Brady until 1873

Mathew B. Brady (ca. 1822 – January 15, 1896) was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism.
Brady was born in Warren County, New York, the youngest of three children of Irish immigrant parents, Andrew and Julia Brady. At age 16 he moved to Saratoga, New York, where he met famed portrait painter William Page. Brady became Page's student.
 In 1839 the two traveled to Albany, New York, and then to New York City, where Brady continued to study painting with Page, and also with Page's former teacher, Samuel F. B. Morse.
 Morse had met Louis Jacques Daguerre in France in 1839, and returned to the US to enthusiastically push the new daguerrotype invention of capturing images. He soon became the center of the New York artistic colony who wished to study photography. He opened a studio and offered classes; Brady was one of the first students.
 In 1844 Brady opened his own photography studio in New York, and by 1845 he began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans. He opened a studio in Washington, D.C. in 1849, where he met Juliet (whom everybody called 'Julia') Handy, whom he married in 1851.
 Brady's early images were daguerreotypes, and he won many awards for his work; in the 1850s ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in the American Civil War photography.
 In 1850 Brady produced The Gallery of Illustrious Americans, a portrait collection of prominent contemporary figures. The album, which featured noteworthy images including the elderly Andrew Jackson at the Hermitage, was not financially rewarding but invited increased attention to Brady’s work and artistry.
 In 1854, Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri popularized the carte de visite and these small pictures (the size of a visiting card) rapidly became a popular novelty as thousands of these images were created and sold in the United States and Europe.
In 1856 Brady created the first modern advertisement when he placed an ad in the New York Herald paper offering to produce "photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes." His ads were the first whose typeface and fonts were distinct from the text of the publication and from that of other advertisements.
At first, the effect of the Civil War on Brady's business was a brisk increase in sales of cartes de visite to transient soldiers. However, he was soon taken with the idea of documenting the war itself. He first applied for permission to travel to the battle sites to an old friend, General Winfield Scott, and eventually he made his application to President Lincoln himself. Lincoln granted permission in 1861 with the proviso that Brady finance the project himself.
His efforts to document the American Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio right onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history. Despite the obvious dangers, financial risk, and discouragement of his friends, Brady is later quoted as saying "I had to go. A spirit in my feet said 'Go,' and I went." His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the First Battle of Bull Run, in which he got so close to the action that he barely avoided capture.
He employed Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Thomas C. Roche, and seventeen other men, each of whom was given a traveling darkroom, to go out and photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally stayed in Washington, D.C., organizing his assistants and rarely visited battlefields personally. This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that Brady's eyesight had begun to deteriorate in the 1850s.
In October 1862 Brady opened an exhibition of photographs from the Battle of Antietam in his New York gallery titled "The Dead of Antietam." Many images in this presentation were graphic photographs of corpses, a presentation new to America. This was the first time that many Americans saw the realities of war in photographs as distinct from previous "artists' impressions".
Mathew Brady, through his many paid assistants, took thousands of photos of American Civil War scenes. Much of the popular understanding of the Civil War comes from these photos. There are thousands of photos in the National Archives taken by Brady and his associates, Alexander Gardner, George Barnard, and Timothy O'Sullivan.
 The photographs include Lincoln, Grant, and common soldiers in camps and battlefields. The images provide a pictorial cross reference of American Civil War history. Brady was not able to photograph actual battle scenes as the photographic equipment in those days was still in the infancy of its development and required that a subject be still in order for a clear photo to be produced.
Following the conflict a war-weary public lost interest in seeing photos of the war, and Brady’s popularity and practice declined drastically.
During the war, Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy.
Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, loss of eyesight and devastated by the death of his wife in 1887, he became very lonely. He died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on January 15, 1896, from complications following a streetcar accident.
Brady photographed 18 of the 19 American Presidents from John Quincy Adams to William McKinley. The exception was the 9th President, William Henry Harrison, who died in office three years before Brady started his Photographic Collection.
On the Confederate side, Brady photographed Jefferson Davis, P. G. T. Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Lord Lyons, James Henry Hammond, and Robert E. Lee (Lee's first session with Brady was in 1845 as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, his final after the war in Richmond, Virginia).
Brady photographed Abraham Lincoln on many occasions. His Lincoln photographs have been used for the $5 dollar bill and the Lincoln penny. One of his Lincoln photos was used by the National Bank Note Company as a model for the engraving on the 90c Lincoln Postage issue of 1869.
Brady can be considered a pioneer in the orchestration of a "corporate credit line." In this practice, every image produced in his gallery was labeled “Photo by Brady;” however, Brady dealt directly with only the most distinguished subjects and most portrait sessions were carried out by others.
Brady's funeral was financed by veterans of the 7th New York Infantry. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Mathew B. Brady


The life of Timothy H. O'Sullivan

The story of the Irishman who helped shape American--and Arizonan--photography.

Long before photography was considered a cool art, and long before photography prices shot through the proverbial museum roof, Ansel Adams got hold of an album of forgotten 19th-century photographs of the West. Almost 2 feet long and bound in brown linen and leather, the fading book had 25 pictures of Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada printed on fragile albumen. A handful were by the photographer William Bell, but most--and certainly the best--bore the imprint of Timothy H. O'Sullivan.
Dated 1871 and 1873, these images by O'Sullivan were some of the first-ever photographs of what would become quintessential Arizona subjects. With his cumbersome wet-plate camera, he beautifully captured the chiseled cliff dwellings of Canyon de Chelly, the forbidding Black Canyon at the western edge of the Grand Canyon and spindly saguaros rising up in the desert. His straightforward images of Native Americans, photographed in their own landscape, are thoroughly unromantic.
So in 1942, when Adams' friend Beaumont Newhall asked his advice for a show on photography of the Civil War and the American West, at New York's Museum of Modern Art, Adams eagerly brought up O'Sullivan. He also sent along the album, which nowadays rests in fragile splendor in the archive of Tucson's Center for Creative Photography.
"They were in correspondence over what should go into the show," says Keith McElroy, an elfish UA professor who teaches the history of photography.
Adams was promoting the great Western photographer, and Newhall was pushing a great Civil War photographer.
"It was serendipity," says McElroy. "They finally realized they were talking about the same person--Timothy O'Sullivan. He was right at the heart of American photography, East and West."
Not only was O'Sullivan one of the most intrepid and successful of the U.S. government expedition photographers who roamed the West under appalling conditions in the late 1860s and 1870s, he was one of the best of the Civil War photographers. His photos of the war's anonymous dead, lying bloated in the bloody fields of Gettysburg and elsewhere, are emblazoned into the consciousness of Americans.
"His pictures are part of the American people, whether they know it or not," says Tucson's Terry Etherton, an O'Sullivan champion and dealer. "They're in every history book." And thanks to Ken Burns, who used these images extensively in his TV series on the war, "even people who don't know anything about O'Sullivan know his Civil War photos."
His Western pictures are equally significant to photographers; each new generation comes to O'Sullivan, McElroy notes, "and he never fails." Most of the photographers sent to document the West's native peoples and its geologic formations tried to make this strange new land accessible, even picturesque. Not O'Sullivan. At a time when Manifest Destiny demanded that Americans conquer the land, he pictured a West that was forbidding and inhospitable. With an almost modern sensibility, he made humans and their works insignificant. His photographs picture scenes, like a flimsy boat helpless against the dark shadows of Black Canyon, or explorers almost swallowed up by the crevices of Canyon de Chelly.
"His figures were small, overwhelmed by the landscape," says Mark Klett, an ASU photography prof who tried his own hand at many O'Sullivan subjects in the 1970s Rephotographic Survey Project. "There's not the sense that people were the equal to or above the landscape. They were not in charge."
Other Western photographers, William Henry Jackson, Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge--had a long lifetime to perfect and promote their work. But O'Sullivan died young, of tuberculosis at the age of 41 or 42, in 1882. His exalted reputation, which continues to grow in tandem with his skyrocketing prices, rests on a body of work completed in little more than a decade, between 1862 and 1874. And he made his groundbreaking photographs while dodging Confederate bullets, warding off malaria, swimming against rapids and desperately digging for water in Death Valley--in August.
"His life," declares Etherton, "is worthy of a screenplay. It's a great story."

O'SULLIVAN WAS BORN IN 1840, one year after the new-fangled invention of photography, but his exact birthplace remains a mystery.

His father listed Ireland as the place of birth on his son's death certificate, and historians generally agree that he was Irish-born.
Etherton says one contemporary remembered him speaking with an Irish brogue. But O'Sullivan himself, in a job application to the United States Treasury Department in 1880, declared that Staten Island was his native place.
He may not have been above stretching the truth to get a job he really needed. On the same application, he claimed that he had served in the Union Army for six months, but his biographer, Joel Snyder, could find no proof of this in records. Perhaps O'Sullivan thought he had a better chance of winning the post if he were native-born; the accomplishments of America's immigrant Irish during the Civil War had improved their reputation, but they were still an often-despised minority.
His parents, Jeremiah and Ann, were not living in Staten Island in 1840, according to census records, Snyder reports in his book American Frontiers: The Photographs of Timothy O'Sullivan, 1867-1874. Nor does St. Peter's, the family church where he was confirmed and buried, have baptismal records for young Timothy, though the church was founded in 1839. He first shows up in the document as Tim Sullivan, a boy of 15, being confirmed in the church on Nov. 11, 1855.
But whether Timothy was FBI--foreign-born Irish--or CIA--conceived in America--his parents were indeed Irish. When they fled Ireland is unknown, but it's possible that their son's first and most treacherous journey was across the Atlantic on one of the death ships escaping the famine of the mid-1840s.
Little is known of O'Sullivan's upbringing--he left no letters or diaries--but he wrote a with fine hand, suggesting early educational intervention by a nun or two. He was almost certainly raised in an Irish community. Near St. Peter's Church, at the settlement of Tompkinsville, the Americans established a quarantine hospital for the thousands of half-starved Irish travelers struck by cholera on the long voyage to America. Many of the hospital's survivors settled in St. Peter's parish, and young O'Sullivan doubtless grew up on their tales of the perilous journey from a distant land. And he could stand on the hills of Staten Island, which rise up in gentle slopes over New York harbor, and see for miles out to sea, watching ships sailing toward distant shores.
Legend has it, says McElroy, that the photographer Mathew Brady lived near the O'Sullivans on Staten Island, giving the boy an opportunity for his photographic apprenticeship. Whether they were neighbors or not, by about 1856, young Timothy was training in Brady's velvet-lined New York portrait gallery, a singularly cushy place to launch a career that would routinely send him to the battlefield and the wilderness. O'Sullivan soon was shipped down to Washington, D.C., to work in a satellite Brady studio headed by Alexander Gardner, who would also distinguish himself in Civil War photography.
"Brady was a dandy who wore doe-skin pants and thick glasses; he didn't make his own photos," McElroy says. "He hired 'operators,'" as photographers were disparagingly called. "Gardner was the brains behind the operation."
The apprentice got good training in the new craft, and after war broke out in 1861, Brady took him along to the battle of Bull Run. The Union was confident of victory, and the 21-year-old O'Sullivan planned to photograph the fighting.
Both expectations were ignominiously confounded. The South routed the North, and "a shell from one of the rebel field pieces" exploded O'Sullivan's camera, according to a Harper's reporter. Photographers and soldiers alike hightailed it back to Washington.
It was going to be a long war.
Brady had a nasty habit of not crediting his photographers for their work, and Gardner soon broke away from the studio, taking O'Sullivan with him. The young photographer went on to shoot gripping images in the aftermath of most of the war's major battles, from Second Manassas to Appomattox.
"There are no actual battle pictures," Etherton notes. "He did camps, troops and atrocities, not the battle while it was happening. That would have been incredibly hard. With the camera and the wet plate negative in the field, that was not going to happen."
Until the Civil War, photography had been a refined, mostly indoor craft, geared toward people in their Sunday best stopping by the studio for a family portrait. The Civil War changed all that. Its photographers essentially invented photojournalism, though McElroy says they were not always above staging their scenes. In these days, the wet-plate collodion technique required them to haul around a portable darkroom--the soldiers nicknamed them the "what-is-it wagons"--to develop the glass negatives right after shooting the image.
The drill, says McElroy, went like this: Set up the camera. Quickly coat a glass plate with gooey collodion. Put the glass in a plateholder. Insert it in the camera, expose it for some seconds. Rush the plate to the darkroom tent and immediately bathe it in the developer chemicals and the fixer.
The job was simply too daunting for most of the war's fledgling shutterbugs.
"Four hundred photographers were credited by the Union Army, but the number who produced anything of value were relatively few," McElroy says.
O'Sullivan not only successfully made the difficult transition from studio to field; his pictures were among the best of the war. When Gardner published his famous Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War, 44 of the 100 images were by his former protégé.
At war's end, O'Sullivan returned to Washington, but the studio must have been suffocating after his adventures in the field. But he was soon to find a new outlet. The federal government, fresh from subduing the South, was eagerly organizing survey expeditions aimed at winning the West. O'Sullivan's war work had trained him perfectly for the rigors of the frontier. In 1867, like many young men, he went West.

KLETT, AN O'SULLIVAN admirer, says the photographer "thought a lot of himself."

"He was a braggart, sort of an Irish tough guy," he says.
O'Sullivan was a natural choice for the expeditions. These multi-disciplinary teams, charged with discovering the best ways to exploit the natural resources of the West, brought along geologists, artists and plant scientists, as well as photographers. Some of the explorers, John Wesley Powell of Grand Canyon fame among them, attempted ethnographic studies. O'Sullivan's second expedition employer, George Wheeler, "was just interested in knowing what kind of fuss the Indians would put up," Klett says, and the photographs were used to grease the wheels of Manifest Destiny.
"An argument could be made that these images had a negative effect," Etherton says. "All of the West was looked at as an opportunity, to build a railroad, to dig a mine, to move people out."
In 1867, Clarence King, a 25-year-old Yale graduate, hired the Irish tough guy for his Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel. Funded by the War Department, the plan was to survey the unexplored territory between the California Sierras and the Rockies, with an eye toward finding the best place to lay railroad tracks while gauging mining possibilities and the level of Indian hostility. In May, the party sailed to Panama, crossed the jungle by narrow-gauge railroad and continued on to San Francisco. There, O'Sullivan bought a leftover war ambulance to serve as his traveling darkroom, and four mules to haul it.
Beginning the climb up the Sierra Nevada mountains in July, the team crossed the Donner Pass at night, "when the mountain air froze (the snow) into a crust firm enough to support them," writes Snyder. Most of the crew, excluding O'Sullivan, came down with malaria in a mosquito-plagued valley, and King himself was struck by lightning on Job's Peak and was temporarily paralyzed.
O'Sullivan nearly drowned in the Truckee River (which runs from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, located in northwestern Nevada) when his boat got jammed against rocks.
"Being a swimmer of no ordinary power, (he) succeeded in reaching the shore ... he was carried a hundred yards down the rapids ... The sharp rocks ... had so cut and bruised his body that he was glad to crawl into the brier tangle that fringed the river's brink," Harper's reported in 1869. He also lost his money, when his pocketbook, "freighted with three hundred dollars in gold pieces," landed in the river, but he told the story later with good humor.
"That was rough," Harper's quoted O'Sullivan, "for I never found that 'dust' again, though I prospected a long time, barefooted for it."
Despite this near-Biblical string of disasters, King insisted that his men dress for dinner each evening and speak in French, McElroy says, and the son of Irish immigrants seems to have had no trouble fitting in.
"They all liked him," McElroy says. "He had a great personality. His energy made him a good expedition person."
In the three difficult years of the King Expedition, O'Sullivan took mesmerizing pictures, of otherworldly rocks rising out of Nevada's Pyramid Lake, of endless sand dunes overpowering his little mule-drawn darkroom. He even scored a technical first. During the winter of 1867-68, in Virginia City, Nev., he made the first underground mining pictures in America. Deep in mines where temperatures topped out at 130 degrees, O'Sullivan took pictures by the light of magnesium wire.
"He had a unique vision on the Western surveys," Etherton says. "Basically, he was a hired hand sent to bring out information: What are the possibilities of a railroad? What is the situation with the Indians? But he had an incredible eye; he made pictures that don't look like anyone else's pictures at that time. They were not romantic at all."
In October 1868, O'Sullivan was back in Washington, making prints from the glass plates he hauled back across the country. Now 28 years old, he found time to court Laura Virginia Pywell, whose brother was the photographer William Reddish Pywell. He gave his sweetheart a picture of himself, and, Snyder tells us, she wrote on the back: "Given to me by Mr. Sullivan on December 5, 1868." (O'Sullivan seems to have dropped the "O" on his name from time to time.)
Laura had to make do with the picture while the real O'Sullivan roamed the wilderness: They would not get married for another five years.
In fact, six months after he gave her the gift, he was back in Salt Lake City for his final season with King, exploring the mountains around the Great Salt Lake. He returned East again, but before long, the restless photographer had signed on to a Navy expedition to Panama. He sailed in January 1870. But in the tropics, O'Sullivan found himself out of kilter. He had become accustomed to the American West, where the bones of the land are etched against clear empty skies. In the jungle, he was stumped by the thick green vegetation crowding out the horizon. The Panama pictures are murky, and the Navy did not rehire him.
But O'Sullivan was on the verge of the best work of his career. Arizona awaited.

O'SULLIVAN'S FIRST ARIZONA journey began in September 1871. This time around, he was a military photographer, working for Lt. George Montague Wheeler's grandly named U.S. Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian.

The military, McElroy says, had become jealous of the numerous civilian expeditioners, like King, whom they saw as infringing on their domain. The Wheeler tour of the Southwest was an antidote, meant to "soothe the military's ruffled feathers."
The photographer was a more-than-experienced expeditioner at this point, but the ordeals of the Wheeler survey tested him. All the surveys had their macho side, McElroy points out, glorying in "males naked in the wilderness." But the militaristic Wheeler was extreme, ordering his team on lengthy forced marches (Snyder says one lasted 80 hours), trekking in the summer across Death Valley. It was there that O'Sullivan, abandoned by his guide, went nearly two days without water.
But the Arizona leg was the most outlandish. Wheeler insisted that the team explore the Colorado River by heading upstream into the Grand Canyon--apparently to outshine his rival, John Wesley Powell, who had first gone downriver in 1869. There was no particular scientific reason to do the trip backward.
The team loaded into three wooden boats. O'Sullivan commanded a boat he named Picture. To go upstream over the perilous rapids, men "rowed, towed and portaged" their boats, as the photographer Rick Dingus put it in his book The Photographic Artifacts of Timothy O'Sullivan. Wheeler's boat was lost entirely, together with his notes and much of their food.
The expedition geologist, Grove Karl Gilbert, wrote in his diary about "the gloom of the (Black) canyon." On Sept. 21, he noted that a strong wind "interfered with photography and kept O'Sullivan in a perpetual state of profanity" and on Sept. 25, after the toil of pulling the boats, "O'Sullivan's hand so sore we make no pictures here."
After 33 grueling days, and 200 miles of upriver traveling, the party reached their destination, Diamond Creek in the Grand Canyon. Many of the glass plates so arduously produced were broken en route back to Washington.
But despite the travails on the river, O'Sullivan's remaining 400 negatives produced spectacular photographs. Snyder writes that the Black Canyon pictures "begin drenched in light, progress into an abyss of blackness where human figures can barely be made out, and emerge again into the light."
The picture "Black Canyon", looking above from Camp 8, Colorado River, Arizona, 1871" is Etherton's favorite in all photography.
"It's one of the most sublime pictures of the 19th century," Etherton says. "What's great is that it's a flat-out beautiful image, and it has so much stuff about the history of photography. Because of the time exposure the water is smoothed out. The sky is neutral because it was not sensitive to emulsions--you could picture clouds only through a separate negative. The sky becomes a neutral space, a sculptural element."
O'Sullivan spent the 1872 season with King, taking photographs in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. But by February 1873, he was back in Washington on a personal mission. On Feb. 11, he married Laura Pywell in E Street Baptist Church, his Catholic parents' perspective on this "mixed marriage" unrecorded.
He lingered with his new bride all of three months before returning to Arizona a final time with Wheeler. This time around--wisely--he escaped Wheeler's scrutiny by occasionally heading side exploration parties. He made some gentler Arizona images, trees ringing White Mountain lakes, but it was on this 1873 expedition that he made his pivotal Canyon de Chelly pictures, with his views of Indian life and his New Mexican churches. These images, now so stereotyped by Arizona Highways photographers and hordes of amateurs, were entirely fresh.
"There was nothing to go by. These were new subjects," Etherton points out, as there were not yet conventions for Indian photographs. "O'Sullivan had probably seen (Indian) delegation portraits. O'Sullivan would have been aware of formal, interior studio portraits of Indians. His pictures in the field were totally different."
Thus, 30 years before Edward S. Curtis began romanticizing Western Indians' "dying way of life," O'Sullivan matter-of-factly photographed Apache scouts and Navajo weavers. In the 1873 Navajo picture contained in the Ansel Adams album, he's pictured a domestic scene, a woman at the loom outdoors, men gathered around. There's nothing romantic about this picture of defeated people trying their best to put back together a life.
McElroy swears that "Mrs. Powell designed costumes for the Indians" to be photographed by her husband's expedition photographer. But, "O'Sullivan's Native Americans seem to be the most direct. ... O'Sullivan shows Indians wearing blue jeans. He recorded things just as they were."
O'Sullivan was preternaturally modern in other ways. A close-up of an Arizona rock, "Rock Carved by Drifting Sand," ostensibly photographed to demonstrate erosion, becomes an abstraction of shapes and shadows. And Klett notes how often he included references to himself as a photographer into his images. A famous picture from El Moro National Monument includes O'Sullivan's yardstick measuring an inscription carved by a Spanish conquistador.
"He was self-conscious," Klett says. "He'll include the dark tent, the wagon, the horse, his bottle or a scale or ruler. These indicate he was a participant in the scene. I've been influenced by that very much. O'Sullivan got me to think of that. It's not an objective document: A person is engaged in making this picture. That's a very contemporary idea. You don't see that in anybody else of his time."
And his Canyon de Chelly landscapes continue to influence photographers. O'Sullivan photographed the cliffs looming over tiny tents pitched in the valley, and he took a beautifully textured view of the rock walls in White House Ruins.
"Ansel Adams was one of the people who brought O'Sullivan out of obscurity," Kless says. "As a landscape photographer himself, he could understand him."
Klett maintains that O'Sullivan is "one of the most important of the 19th-century photographers of landscape. Carleton Watkins has gotten a lot of press. He was a great photographer but O'Sullivan was unique."
McElroy is more measured.
"He was the right person in the right place," he says. "He had a great personality. He was a great photographer. Why wouldn't he hit great stuff? I could take any one of his most famous pictures and find someone who did it equally well. But O'Sullivan had enormous range. ... He was at the nexus of something very important, the Civil War, American culture. His work is still a time capsule of that moment in American history."

O'SULLIVAN MADE ONE MORE trip out West, in 1874, photographing in Colorado and northern New Mexico for Wheeler. At the end of the expedition, he went back to Shoshone Falls in Idaho, to make what would be his last images of the West. Capturing the waters of the Snake River blasting over a precipice, the pictures are at once ominous and sublime, a fitting valedictory for his work in the West.

After Shoshone Falls, O'Sullivan's long run of Irish luck came to an end. He was reunited with Laura in Washington, but he scratched out an unsatisfactory living, printing for Wheeler, working as a commercial photographer. A plan to print his Western views for his own profit went nowhere. In September 1876, he buried his only child, a stillborn son. No minister or undertaker was present at Rock Creek Cemetery, and biographer Snyder believes O'Sullivan laid the baby in the grave himself. In 1880, his good friend Lewis E. Walker, photographer for the Treasury, died, and O'Sullivan applied for the job. Letters of recommendation poured in from his satisfied past employers--it's from these letters that we get much of our information on him--and he must have been relieved to be hired.
But he and Laura were both stricken with tuberculosis shortly thereafter, and he had to quit his new job after only five months. Oddly, perhaps, he went home to his parents' house on Staten Island to be nursed, while Laura apparently stayed with her family.
In October 1881, Laura died without him. He managed to get back for her funeral, and saw her buried next to their infant son; he promised his Washington friends he'd return by Christmas. But his lungs hemorrhaged in December.
On Jan. 17, 1882, the man who had traveled tens of thousands of miles, and survived most dangers the 19th century had to offer, died at home of a commonplace disease.
His grieving father laid his son to rest among the Irish in St. Peter's churchyard, and he lies there still, in an unmarked grave.

Michael Talty

Michael Talty (1812-1890), an Irish immigrant and builder, designed and built many of the finer homes in DC in the decade of the 1850's.

Peter Grogan's Furniture Store

Peter Grogan's Furniture Store at 819 7th Street NW was in the center of what was "Furniture Row". Grogan's was one of the more successful stores in this area. Peter Grogan as an Irish immigrant who opened another store in 1883 and then established 7th Street store in 1891. The store emphasized affordability "If your supply of ready cash is somewhat depleted, that fact has no bearing on the buying of furniture and housefurnishings--if you buy HERE," read one of his ads. Grogan passed the business on to his three sons, who continued to run it until 1933, when the store closed as a result of the Great Depression. 

General Levi Casey

General Levi Casey (c. 1752 – February 3, 1807) is buried at the Congressional cemetery on the Hill. Brothers Abner and Peter Casey arrived from Tyrone County to Baltimore in 1726 (And changed the family name from O’Casey to Casey). The family moved Baltimore to Virginia to South Carolina, settling there in 1748.

Abner Casey had eight boys; John, Columbus, Jesse, Randolph, James, Benjamin, Christopher, and Levi. Christopher, Randolph, Benjamin, and Levi (who was a colonel) all served in the Colonial army during the Revolutionary War. One of the Casey stepbrothers, Benjamin Casey, was killed in action at Camp Middlebrook, New Jersey.
Levi survived the war and married Elizabeth Duckett in 1775 and later reached the rank of brigadier general in the South Carolina militia. He also served as justice of Newberry County Court in 1785.
Casey was a member of the South Carolina Senate in 1781 and 1782 and 1800–1802 and a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives 1786-1788, 1792–1795 and 1798-1799
He was elected as a Republican to the Eighth and Ninth Congresses and served from March 4, 1803, until his death, before the close of the Ninth Congress. Prior to dying, he had been reelected to the Tenth Congress. He died in Washington, D.C., February 3, 1807.

The Original Sibley Hospital that boarded on the edge of the rough and tumble neighborhood of Swampoodle

From The Ruined Capitol.Com

Swampoodle towards the end of its life as DC's Irish neighborhood

Swampoodle Houses

Gonzaga in Swampoodle (Thanks to Ghosts of DC. Org)

New Gonzaga College advertisement in the Washington Times - August 31st, 1913

Gonzaga benefited greatly from the fact that the row houses built in Swampoodle were largely occupied by Irish Catholics from the late 19th century on. Although Gonzaga always drew students from other parts of the city as well, the departure of the Swampoodle Irish for the suburbs in the mid-20th century and more especially their replacement by poorer non-Catholics, brought on another period of difficulties. A decline in enrollment and the great inner-city riot of 1968 led some to suggest that Gonzaga should be closed, or moved to a more affluent area. However, the Jesuits once again persisted, and the school survived. In the last years of the 20th century, the school even expanded, adding several new buildings and a large playing field and field house. Today Gonzaga has regained its former status. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial referred to the institution as “the premier Catholic high school of Washington.”

Maps of Swampoodle from Ghosts of DC. Org

1903 map of Swampoodle
                                                                           Swampoodle 1903

1888 Sanborn fire insurance map of Swampoodle
                                                             Swampoodle 1888

Swampoodle (Little Ireland) 1861 Photograph shows view of Washington, D.C., taken from U.S. Capitol, showing Douglas Hospital, Old Douglas House, Railway Station, The Washington, or Wilkes House, St. Aloysius, Government Printing Office, Glenwood Cemetery, Swampoodle, Old Mill.

Photograph shows view of Washington, D.C., taken from U.S. Capitol, showing Douglas Hospital, Old Douglas House, Railway Station, The Washington, or Wilkes House, St. Aloysius, Government Printing Office, Glenwood Cemetery, Swampoodle, Old Mill.

Research and photo provided by Ghosts of DC

The IS Government printing office is built in the middle of Washington's "Little Ireland" Swampoodle.

When the printing off was placed in Swampoodle, the neighborhood was then on the far outskirts of the city in those days.  It was a desperately poor place. When rail car filled with freight leaving the nearby Baltimore & Ohio rail yard crashed in 1861 and spilled  molasses from one car, women and children from the neighborhood converged on the site with  buckets to scoop up the food.

The first printing office at  H Street NW

The building in 1895

View of Swampoodle in 1909

January 9, 1920. Eamon Devalera opens the Offices of the Irish Government in Exile

January 9, 1920. Eamon Devalera opens the Offices of  the Irish Government in Exile in the Munsey Building. The old Imperial Hotel once stood n its ground and later the  Washington Post Building.  The 13-story Munsey Trust Building was built in 1905 and housed the  Embassy of Finland from 1921 to 1923 and other offices. The massive e J.W. Marriott Hotel now sits on the property.

The Munsey in 1911

April 2, 1920, Eamon De Valera addresses the Maryland House of Delegates and meets with Gov. Richie

January 7 1919, The Friends of Irish Freedom meet with Eamon Devalera at 601 E Street NW (The building no longer stands)