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About the Collection

Taylor Brothers Photographs

Bicycle : man

Adams County, Wisconsin. ca.1910/1930

The photographic images in this collection were taken by the Taylor Brothers photographic studio of Adams County, Wisconsin, circa 1910-1930. In 2001, Murphy Library, UW-La Crosse received the collection as a donation from a private estate. There were 665 glass plate photographic negatives in the donation. Most of the negatives have multiple images on them so there are actually 934 separate photographs. The physical condition of the glass plates was generally high resulting in crisp images with striking detail and clarity.

Growth and change in rural and small town Wisconsin in the early 20th century are reflected in the photos of the Taylor Brothers. Most of the photos were taken in central Wisconsin, centering on Adams County and the county seat of Friendship. Subjects are varied and include towns, buildings and street scenes in Adams County; construction and dedication of a new county courthouse; teachers, classes, and one-room school houses; marsh dredging; road construction; farmsteads, animals, and agricultural activities. Portraits of people include men, women, children and families; some in formal poses in a studio, others taken at their residences, farms, or businesses. The portraits include images of Native Americans, mostly members of the Ho-Chunk nation, some of which are individually identified.

Scenes outside of Adams County include Wisconsin State Guard training, circa 1913-1916, at Camp Williams and Camp Douglas in Juneau County, Camp McCoy in Monroe County, and a few at Camp Dodge in Polk County, Iowa. There are also views of the construction of the Kilbourn dam on the Wisconsin River, at what is now the city of Wisconsin Dells, in Columbia County. Of particular historical interest are images of the John Dietz homestead and Cameron dam on the Thornapple River in Sawyer County, taken after a shootout in 1910 between Dietz and a sheriff's posse, the result of a six-year property and water rights conflict between Dietz and lumber companies.

Overall, the Taylor Brothers collection documents the transition of rural Wisconsin from the horse and buggy era to the age of motorized vehicles.