Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

L. A. Huffman
L.A. Huffman, about 25 years old and already a skilled photographer, traveled west from Iowa to Montana Territory to become post photographer at Fort Keogh. The fort, established August of 1876 following the Custer Battle (Battle of the Little Big Horn) in June of that year, was General Nelson A. Miles' headquarters in the remaining campaigns against the Sioux, the Northern Cheyenne and Chief Joseph's Nez Perce Indians. At Fort Keogh and in Miles City, which grew adjacent to the fort, Huffman did his work. He photographed the Indian warriors, the soldiers, the buffalo hunters, the bull-whackers, the colorful people of old Milestown and then the cattlemen. He photographed the ranches, the roundups, the cowboys in greater extent and detail than was ever done. With crude home-built cameras he made his early photographs on glass plates. From horseback or well chosen point of view he preserved the frontier heritage with great patience and skill. Huffman's career in Montana covered 50 years. The hardships on the frontier were replaced with a modest but fleeting prosperity. During his first year or two he engaged part time in buffalo hunting for meat and the money the hides would bring. Then his photography at Fort Keogh and Miles City went forward with some success for a while. He entered into the cattle business with a partner and invested in real estate in town. As photographer and guide for Eastern sportsmen and writers he ranged widely and added many fine pictures to his collection. As a well liked member of the community he was elected to the school board in 1885, later to the Custer County Board of Commissioners and in 1893 to the Montana House of Representatives. Still, the photography business had its ups and downs as did his investment in real estate. From time to time Huffman was forced to pursue his profession or other work in other localities. The hardships and years of hard work through most of his career seemed never to bring the financial reward he had hoped for himself and his family. Yet as the years passed his collection of photographs of frontier days drew more interest until the last six or eight years of his life sales of his pictures provided a modestly comfortable income. Huffman's genius was not only in his artistry before there was the automatic camera or fast film or exposure meter. His great love for the spirit of the Old West and his sense of history drove him with seemingly small reward to record those chapters that were soon to close.
View high resolution images of works by L. A. Huffman when available.

"The Collotypes of L. A. Huffman: Montana Frontier Photographer" by Gene and Bev Allen


The unknown world and confusion of what was a collotype and what was a photograph and what was L. A. Huffman doing is solved? Finally knowledge being power is revealed and will result in the market increasing in sales and popularity for all of us. glt

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