Two Immigrant Photographers Record Modoc War of 1872-73

Jan 21, 2014

 Two early photographers, Eadweard [cq] A. Muybridge of San Francisco and Louis Herman Heller of Yreka, covered the Modoc War in 1872-73 in Northeast California between Captain Jack’s small band of Indians and the U.S. Army.

 Nearly 100 of the photographs have survived, ranging from Heller’s wallet-sized portraits of Modoc prisoners to stereographs of war zone terrain, participants, and military hardware and encampments.  Muybridge, an immigrant from England, gained fame for his landscapes of the Yosemite Valley and earned the sobriquet “the father of motion pictures” for capturing movement on camera.  The Army hired him for the Modoc War.Before the war, Heller’s recognition as a professional photographer was confined mostly to Northern California’s Siskiyou Valley where he had settled as a German immigrant.For many years after the war, Muybridge’s national reputation overshadowed Heller, even though Heller was the first to photograph a Modoc War-related event, to visit the Modoc lava bed stronghold, to have a Modoc image published in a national publication and to photograph captured Modocs.Today, Heller’s studio in Fort Jones, Calif., is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Source: Palmquist, Peter. "Imagemakers of the Modoc War: Louis Heller and Eadweard Muybridge." The Journal of California Anthropology, 4(2). 1977. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.