William S. Judd, Daguerreotypist and the Picture of Abigail Gardner Sharp (October 1854)

By David Schleper

On Oct. 13, 1854, a St. Paul newspaper published correspondence dated Oct. 10 from Shakopee, Minnesota Territory that included the news that “Mr. Judd, Daguerreotypist of Hennepin County, has recently purchased a lot upon which he intends to erecting a building suitable for Daguerrean purposes. Mr. Judd is an accomplished artist.”

The daguerreotype process, introduced in 1839, was the first publicly announced photographic process and the first to come into widespread use. It was a photographic process in which a picture is made on a silver surface sensitized with iodine that was developed by exposure to mercury vapor.

By the early 1860s, later processes which were less expensive and produced more easily viewed images had almost entirely replaced it. Daguerreotypes soon were obsolete.

The distinguishing visual characteristics of a daguerreotype are that the image is on a bright mirror-like surface of metallic silver and it will appear either positive or negative depending on the lighting conditions and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal.

Several types of antique images, particularly ambrotypes and tintypes but sometimes even old prints on paper, are commonly misidentified as daguerreotypes, especially if they are in the small, ornamented cases in which daguerreotypes were usually housed. The name daguerreotype correctly refers only to one very distinctive image type and medium, produced by a specific photographic process that was in wide use only from the early 1840s to the late 1850s.

William S. Judd advertised his services as a daguerreotypist, ambrotypist, and silversmith in Shakopee, according to the ad in June of 1857. He noted that he had “taken rooms for a few days, in Holmes’ brick block, two doors north of the Wasson House.” Judd claimed to have had “the experience of a number of years in the business” and added that he was “in possession of all the recent improvements.” He guaranteed his pictures to be “equal if not superior in durability and artistic merit to anything ever produced in the County.”

On June 22, 1857, Judd took a daguerreotype portrait of Miss Abigail Gardiner, who had been captured by Dakota Indians at the Spirit Lake Massacre and later ransomed by three friendly Dakotas. Judd took Miss Gardiner’s portrait at the insistence of the editor of the Shakopee Valley Herald.

 

Abigail Gardiner Sharp
Abigail Gardiner Sharp

Inkpaduta was born in what later became the Dakota Territory shortly before the turn of the 19th century. He was the son of Chief Wamdisapa (Black Eagle). As a child, he contracted smallpox, which killed several of his relatives and family members. The disease left him badly scarred for life. After the father was later murdered in a tribal dispute, the band moved to Iowa, near the present-day Fort Dodge. Inkpaduta was an American Indian who was respected by the white settlers who lived amongst Inkpaduta’s people and traded goods with them.

Chief Inkpaduta
Chief Inkpaduta

Inkpaduta was born in what later became the Dakota Territory shortly before the turn of the 19th century. He was the son of Chief Wamdisapa (Black Eagle). As a child, he contracted smallpox, which killed several of his relatives and family members. The disease left him badly scarred for life. After the father was later murdered in a tribal dispute, the band moved to Iowa, near the present day Fort Dodge. Inkpaduta was an American Indian who was respected by the white settlers who lived amongst Inkpaduta’s people and traded goods with them.

Inkpaduta and his band were not signatories with the rest of the Wahpekute to the 1851 Treaty of Mendota, which transferred the land in northwestern Iowa to the United States. They refused to recognize the treaty restrictions. In 1852, a drunken white whiskey trader, Henry Lott, killed the new Chief Si-dom-i-na-do-tah, (Inkpaduta’s older brother) and nine of his family.

Chief Si-dom-i-na-do-tah
Chief Si-dom-i-na-do-tah

Desperado Henry Lott had built a cabin which became a rendezvous for house thieves and outlaws near the mouth of the Boone River. Horses were stolen from the settlements below and also from the Indians. He secreted them on Lott’s premises and from there took them to the eastern part of the state of Iowa and sold.

Inkpaduta succeeded his brother as chief. He told the U.S. Army of the murders, but little was done to bring the killer to justice. In fact, the local prosecuting attorney nailed the dead chief’s head to a pole over his house.

In the late winter of 1857, which was severe, Inkpaduta led his starving band into Iowa. On March 8 he launched a series of raids on white settlers in the Spirit Lake area, where a total of 38 people were killed. The European Americans called this the Spirit Lake Massacre. His warriors took four young women captive. Although chased by a civilian corps from Fort Ridgely in Minnesota, Inkpaduta and his band evaded capture. Two of the women were killed along the way (possibly because they could not keep up), and released the third relatively quickly.

And that is the story of Wiliam S. Judd, who lived in Shakopee, and the picture that he made of Abbie Gardner Sharp.

(Some information from Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continent at Divide: A Biographical Dictionary, 1839-1865 by Peter E. Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn, 2005 by Stanford University Press; and Shakopee Valley Herald, June 17, 1857 and June 24, 1857.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *