Soulful Saxon of Sioux Falls

What it is:

Carte de visite (CDV) photo measuring approx. 2.5 x 4 inches.

What I know about it:

Photographer is L. V. Bean of Sioux Falls, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota).  Written on the back in pencil is Saxon Smith Winter / Father of Lyle & Verna.


This is another one of the photos given to me by my friend Nathan.  My eyes are initially drawn, of course, to that face, but I find I am ultimately most fascinated by the fact that this is from the Dakota Territory.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything (photo or otherwise) labeled “Dakota Territory” as if it were part of an address, and I guess it never occurred to me to think of the Dakota Territory as anything other than a geographic region, either vague in area like the Great Plains, or specific like that of the Louisiana Purchase.  But it was an actual incorporated part of the United States until it was split up into smaller states.  That’s today’s history lesson for me.  The territory was incorporated in 1861 and dissolved in 1889 when the last of its area that hadn’t already broken off became the states of North and South Dakota.  That gives us a 28-year range for dating this photo, assuming the photographer kept his stock current.  Incidentally, as long as I’m on a history kick, the area around Sioux Falls would have been part of the aforementioned Louisiana Purchase.  Before that, it was the territory of the Sioux Nation, the great ethnic group of indigenous peoples whose name contributed to the Big Sioux River, the waterfalls of which gave us the name Sioux Falls.

6 comments on “Soulful Saxon of Sioux Falls”

  1. FASCINATING history and pic!

  2. I agree! Thank you for the nice history lesson. By the way, Widmark spent part of his childhood in Sioux Falls!

  3. I’m wondering if you can tell this on the real photo: was there any darkening done to his irises and eyebrows? (With a touch-up brush after the photo process.)

    • Good catch! I hadn’t noticed it until you pointed it out, but I think there are a couple tiny marks at the edges of the irises (two on the left, one on the right). It’s a little tricky, because as I hold the photo at an angle under the light to see if anything reflects differently, there are the marks at the edges of the irises, but also similar marks all over, which are just damage. But you could be right about the irises, that they were touched up. I’ve seen that elsewhere. But I can see nothing on the eyebrows.

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