Monday, May 18, 2015

Thank Goodness For Traveling Photographers

Having your Photograph taken became popular during the Civil War when many young men marched off to war with a brand new photo of their sweetheart or mother in their vest pocket.  Photographing the war made it necessary for photographers to outfit a wagon that could carry their cameras and double as a darkroom.  Thus the idea of a traveling photographer was born.

Following the war from -- especially during the 1880s and 1890s -- many photographers took their craft on the road…

Traveling photographers with railroad photo cars 

I have this mental image of great grandma in her sod house out on the Nebraska prairie -- her first baby is about six-months old now, but she knows there's no way she can afford to go visit her family and friends in the east.

Then someone tells her a train with a photographer is coming to town, and that's only two hours away with a horse and wagon.  When she got to the railroad station she most likely found the Hutchings Railroad Photo Car sitting on a siding and open for business for the next week or so.

The Hutchings Railroad Photo Car was a train car set up as a traveling photography studio.  They worked along the railroads of Kansas and Nebraska.  Hutchings Railroad photographers advertised in local papers announcing the date of their arrival.  Sometimes they also pass out handbills and put up posters after they arrived.

A visit of the Hutchings Railroad Photo Car was a treat not soon forgotten, and left you with a treasure to always be remembered.

Traveling photographers with horse-drawn vans and wagons

Picture great granddad working on his new barn in rural Montana when a stranger in a horse-drawn wagon comes up the road and pulls into the driveway.  

The stranger's helper unloads a camera on a tripod and points it in the direction of the barn. Wanting to know what he's doing granddad climbs off the barn asks about his intentions.  

The stranger explains to grandpa that his barn has been selected to be photographed, and that if he'll get the family together they can be included in the photograph -- for the price of $2.50 -- and they'll have a professional photograph, that will impress the neighbors, or can be made into a postcard to mail to kin folks.

At that point grandpa had two choices: 1. Grab your pitchfork and run the stranger off the place or, 2. Call mother, the children and get the new buggy out front and pose.

Apparently Abraham Brown decided $2.50 was worth the price of a nice photo of his Creston, Montana homestead.

Thank goodness for those early traveling photographers because I've got cigar box full of pictures that are a family treasure to be handed down to future generations.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Reel Annie Oakleys in the Santa Susanas

The real Annie Oakley (1860 – 1926), was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter.  Annie Oakley's astonishing shooting talent eventually led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. 

Her rise to fame in the late 19th century caused her to become one of the first American women to become a "superstar".

She was also was known as "Miss Annie Oakley", "Little Sure Shot", and "Little Miss Sure Shot"

Like Buffalo Bill -- Annie Oakley's fame led to several movies and television shows about her life (both real and mythical).

Reel Annie Oakley titles fllmed in the Santa Susanas include:

Annie Oakley (1935) starring Barbara Stanwyck as Annie Oakley, Preston Foster and Melvyn Douglas (Iverson Ranch) RKO

"Annie Oakley" (1954) TV Series -- Gail Davis as Annie Oakley (81 episodes, 1954-1957)

Alias Jesse James (1959) starring Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming, Wendell Corey and Gail Davis as Annie Oakley (Iverson Ranch) United Artists

Other roles loosely based on Annie Oakley's life include:

Oklahoma Annie (1952) starring Judy Canova, John Russell, Grant Withers (Chatsworth) Republic

Lay That Rifle Down (1955) starring Judy Canova, Robert Lowery, Jil Jarmyn (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reel Buffalo Bills in the Santa Susanas

The real William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846 - 1917) was an American scout, bison hunter, and showman.  Col. William Frederick Cody got his nickname "Buffalo Bill" after the American Civil War when he had a contract to supply Kansas Pacific Railroad workers with buffalo meat.  Cody is purported to have killed 4,282 American bison (commonly known as buffalo) in eighteen months, (1867–1868).

As one of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill started performing in shows that displayed cowboy themes and episodes from the frontier and Indian Wars.  He founded his Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1883, taking his large company on tours throughout the United States and, beginning in 1887, in Great Britain and Europe.

Because Cody became an American folk hero it was natural for Hollywood to make dozens of movies and TV episodes based on his life's adventures.

Reel Buffalo Bill movies filmed in the Santa Susanas include

Iron Horse, The (1924) starring George O'Brien, Madge Bellamy, Charles Edward Bull and George Waggner as Buffalo Bill (Iverson Ranch) Fox Film Corp

Annie Oakley (1935) starring Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, Melvyn Douglas and Moroni Olsen as William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody (Iverson Ranch) RKO

Miracle Rider, The (1935) [serial] starring Tom Mix, Joan Gale, Charles Middleton and Tex Cooper as Buffalo Bill (Iverson Ranch) Mascot

Custer's Last Stand (1936) [serial] starring Rex Lease, Lona Andre, William Farnum and Ted Adams as Buffalo Bill Chapters 6 & 7 (Iverson Ranch) Stage & Screen

Plainsman, The (1936) starring Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, James Ellison as Buffalo Bill (Iverson Ranch) Paramount

Outlaw Express (1938) starring Bob Baker, Cecilia Callejo, Don Barclay and Carlyle Moore Jr. as Bill Cody - Universal

Young Buffalo Bill (1940) starring Roy Rogers as Buffalo Bill, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Pauline Moore (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Pony Express Days (1940) starring George Reeves as William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody, David Bruce, Frank Wilcox (Burro Flats) Warner Bros.

Days of Buffalo Bill (1946) starring Sunset Carson, Peggy Stewart, Tom London (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Buffalo Bill Rides Again (1947) starring Richard Arlen as Buffalo Bill, Jennifer Holt, Lee Shumway (Iverson Ranch) Jack Schwarz

Law of the Golden West (1949) starring Monte Hale as Bill Cody, Paul Hurst, Gail Davis (Iverson Ranch) Republic

King of the Bullwhip (1950) starring Lash La Rue, Al St. John, Jack Holt and Tex Cooper as Buffalo Bill (Iverson Ranch) Western Adventures

Buffalo Bill in Tomahawk Territory (1952) starring Clayton Moore as Buffalo Bill, Slim Andrews, Charles Harvey, Rodd Redwing (Corriganville) United Artists

Riding with Buffalo Bill (1954) [serial] starring Marshall Reed as Bill Cody, Rick Vallin, Joanne Rio, Shirley Whitney (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Badman's Country (1958) starring George Montgomery, Neville Brand, Buster Crabbe and Malcolm Atterbury as Buffalo Bill (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Visiting Col. William F. Cody's TE Ranch

Sitting Bull and Col. William F. Cody

About 1895, Col. William F. Cody established the TE Ranch, on the South Fork of the Shoshone River about thirty-five miles from Cody, Wyoming.  After acquiring the property, he brought in cattle from Nebraska and South Dakota.  The late 1890s were relatively prosperous years for "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", so he bought more land to add to the TE Ranch which eventually grew to about 8,000 acres of prime grazing land for about 1,000 head of cattle.

Cody also operated a dude ranch offering pack horse camping trips, and big game hunting from the TE Ranch.  Over the years he entertained many notable guests from Europe and America.  Through the years there have been many owners of the TE Ranch, but Robert W. Woodruff, one time president of the Coca Cola Company, decorated it with furniture built by Thomas Molesworth during his tenure.

Cody's TE Ranch about 1920

While I was exhibiting at the Western Design Conference in 1994, I had an opportunity to visit the TE Ranch.  It takes about an hour from downtown Cody to drive to the ranch on the South Fork Road which follows the beautiful South Fork of the Shoshone River.  

As it turned out I would buy my horse Sunup in the same vicinity about a year later, but that's another story.

I will never forget arriving at the TE Ranch because we were greeted by gorgeous bald eagle sitting on the ranch gate.  I did not get to go into the old ranch house, but just walking about the barns and corrals was impressive enough.  

The ranch foreman had a spotting scope set up on the edge of a barley field, and we soon learned he was keeping an eye on a grizzly sow with two year old cubs that were grazing on barley.

Between 1987 and 1999, I made about a dozen and a half trips through Yellowstone National Park to visit Cody, Wyoming for Cody Old West Antique Shows and Western Design Conference exhibits.  Some of my fondest memories are hanging out with friends in the beautiful town of Cody, Wyoming.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Grant Withers

Grant Withers (1904 - 1959) was an American film actor.  During his career he did manage a 10-year contract at Republic Pictures. 

His friendships with both John Ford and John Wayne secured him a spot in nine of Wayne's films, but later roles dwindled to supporting parts, mainly as villains in B-movies, serials, and finally television.

Grant Withers' Santa Susana locations filmography includes:

Fighting Marines, The (1935) [serial] Grant Withers, Adrian Morris, Ann Rutherford (Iverson Ranch) Mascot

Hollywood Round-Up (1937) - Buck Jones, Helen Twelvetrees, Grant Withers (Brandeis Ranch) Columbia

Masked Rider, The (1941) - Johnny Mack Brown, Fuzzy Knight, Nell O'Day - Universal

Fighting Seabees, The (1944) - John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Dennis O'Keefe (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Utah (1945) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, George 'Gabby' Hayes (Iverson Ranch) - Republic

Bells of Rosarita (1945) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, George 'Gabby' Hayes (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Dakota (1945) - John Wayne, Vera Ralston, Walter Brennan (Iverson Ranch) Republic

In Old Sacramento (1946) - Bill Elliott, Constance Moore, Henry H. Daniels Jr. (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Wyoming (1947) - Bill Elliott, Vera Ralston, John Carroll - Republic

Fort Apache (1948) - John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Pedro Armendáriz and John Agar (Corriganville) RKO

Old Los Angeles (1948) - Bill Elliott, John Carroll, Catherine McLeod (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Gallant Legion, The (1948) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray, Joseph Schildkraut (Garden of the Gods) Republic

Angel in Exile (1948) - John Carroll, Adele Mara, Thomas Gomez - Republic

Plunderers, The (1948) - Rod Cameron, Ilona Massey, Lorna Gray (Corriganville)(Iverson Ranch) Republic

Last Bandit, The (1949) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray, Forrest Tucker (Brandeis Ranch) Republic

Hellfire (1949)  - Bill Elliott, Marie Windsor, Forrest Tucker (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Savage Horde, The (1950) - Bill Elliott, Lorna Gray, Grant Withers - Republic

Spoilers of the Plains (1951) - Roy Rogers, Trigger, Penny Edwards (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Republic

Utah Wagon Train (1951) - Rex Allen, Koko, Penny Edwards (Burro Flats)(Iverson Ranch) Republic

Captive of Billy the Kid (1952) - Allan Lane, Black Jack, Penny Edwards (Corriganville) Republic

Leadville Gunslinger (1952) - Allan Lane, Black Jack, Eddy Waller (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Oklahoma Annie (1952) - Judy Canova, John Russell, Grant Withers (Chatsworth) Republic

Iron Mountain Trail (1953) - Rex Allen, Koko, Slim Pickens (Burro Flats)(Iverson Ranch) Republic

White Squaw, The (1956) - David Brian, May Wynn, William Bishop, Nancy Hale (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

Last Stagecoach West, The (1957) - Jim Davis, Mary Castle, Victor Jory (Towsley Canyon, Newhall) Republic

And... a plethora of TV series episodes throughout the 1950s.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Chatsworth Day of the Horse

If you're gonna be anywhere near Chatsworth, California on Sunday, April 12, 2015, be sure to visit our 12th annual Chatsworth Day of the Horse between 11 am and 3 pm at 10861 Andora Street, Chatsworth, CA.

I'll selling and signing my books...

Rendezvous at Boulder Pass: Hollywood's Fantasyland *** Out of Print *** About 10 copies left $39.95

published 2010, Echo Press
ISBN: 978-0-615-21522-8

Photographs, movie stills, lobby cards, and screenshots capture the Iverson Ranch as it looks today and as it appeared during half a century of movie-making between 1912 and the late 1960s. There is some duplication from Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas printed in 2008, but the vast majority is new material never published before.

In Chatsworth's backyard, there remains a fantasyland that was forever made famous by Hollywood…

A place where Superman once captured the evil Luthor in his hidden Stoney Point cave, where Batman wrestled a criminal on top of a speeding locomotive, where Tarzan the Ape Man found an ancient elephant graveyard, and where John Wayne's fighting Seabees pushed a Japanese tank off the same cliff that Nyoka used to escape Vultura’s killer ape.

The place is Boulder Pass.  It was the jungles of India and Africa, the sands of the Sahara, the Khyber Pass between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the plains of Montana, and the High Sierras and the Rocky Mountains all rolled into one.  

It was the scene of stagecoach holdups, posses chasing outlaws on owlhoot (outlaw) trails, Indians attacking white settlers in remote cabins, flying rocket men, and unearthly spaceship landings.  It was a land for make-believe. It could be anything a Hollywood director fancied.

Boulder Pass is a fictitious name borrowed from an old B-Western movie.  The real place is the Santa Susana Pass in Chatsworth, California.  For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Santa Susana Pass was home to the granddaddy of all movie location ranches--the Iverson Ranch.

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas *** $23.00

published 2008, Echo Press
ISBN: 978-0-615-21499-3

A photographic history of "B" Western movie location ranches in Chatsworth, California.

More than 350 photos of scenes lensed in the Santa Susana Mountains.

Come ride with author Jerry England as he takes you on a photographic tour of famous Chatsworth area movie ranches.

Witness Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Allan Lane, Bill Elliott, Charles Starrett, the Lone Ranger, Buster Crabbe, Tim McCoy, Lash LaRue, and many other six-gun heroes as they ride the pony trails of the gone, but not forgotten Iverson Movie Location Ranch, Brandeis Movie Ranch, Bell Moving Picture Ranch, Corriganville Movie Ranch, Spahn Ranch, and Burro Flats.

View action scenes filmed at Chatsworth's reservoir, train depot, and railroad tunnels. Then follow your favorite Hollywood cowboy through the western streets, outlaw shacks, stagecoach stops, and ranch houses you've seen in hundreds of "B" Westerns.

I'll also have copies of "Chatsworth Movie Locations" DVD *** $15.00 *** 
my original presentation given to the Chatsworth Historical Society in 2010.

Video content includes: A tour of the Iverson Location Ranch in a 3-Part Series which examines: • Garden of the Gods, • Indian Hills, and • Upper Ranch filming areas.  Plus footage from other Chatsworth filming locations: Bell Motion Picture Ranch, Brandeis Movie Ranch, Burro Flats (now known as the Rocketdyne SSFL), Chatsworth Lake (aka Chatswoth Reservoir), Chatsworth Trains (depot, tunnels, tracks, etc), and the Double R Bar Ranch - (Roy Rogers & Dale Evans former home).  And, clips showing some of the best comedy scenes filmed in Chatsworth.

I'll be sharing a booth so just look for my display (photo above).

Hope to see you there -- until then Happy Trails.

Jerry England is a western movie historian and author who has researched and written about filming locations in the San Fernando Valley. Rendezvous at Boulder Pass is his second book about the Chatsworth area.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Great Granddad at the Battle of New Orleans

James Boyd -- my 4th great grandfather -- was born 10 Aug 1783 in Virginia.  As a young man he married Nancy Simpson and settled near Knoxville, Tennessee.

So many of Tennessee's native sons volunteered in the War of 1812, that it became known as "The Volunteer State," so it is of little surprise that James Boyd -- at age 31 with a wife and five young children -- joined General William Carroll who was recruiting troops for the defense of New Orleans from Indian and British offensive activities.

It's likely because of his age that James Boyd was given the rank of 3rd Lieutenant in the 5th Regiment of East Tennessee Militia commanded by Major General William Carroll.  

James Boyd served from 13 November 1814 through 5 June 1815.

Traveling via the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi rivers, Major General William Carroll and his new troops arrived in New Orleans just prior to the British invasion.

At the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, Carroll's troops fought near the center of Jackson's line, where some of the most intense fighting occurred.  

The British clearly under estimated Andy Jackson's backwoods volunteers and their marksmanship.  In less than two hours the battle was over. On the field lay about 1,500 dead and wounded British soldiers -- another 500 were taken prisoner.  American losses amounted to thirteen killed and thirty-nine wounded.

After the battle Jackson and his Tennesseans lingered in camps at New Orleans until March 1815.  Ironically, hundreds of Tennesseans who survived the rigors of battle succumbed to deadly illnesses that permeated the camps of New Orleans.

Andrew Jackson was proclaimed a national hero and embarked on a political career that eventually took him to the White House in 1828.

Following the war James Boyd removed to Franklin County, Ohio where Nancy died in 1924.  James remarried to Ann Mariah Postles in 1926, and in 1850, moved further West to Mahaska County, Iowa where he died 20 Nov 1854.

James Boyd (1783 - 1854)
my 4th great grandfather

Valentine Boyd (1811 - 1870)
son of James Boyd

Sophia Boyd (1836 - 1908)
daughter of Valentine Boyd

David Jackson Bailey (1865 - 1949)
son of Sophia Boyd

Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968)
son of David Jackson Bailey

Velma Veda Bailey (1914 - 2004)
daughter of Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey