The background in this photograph is the front porch of the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel, Hunters Hot Springs, Montana. Although it can be established with reasonable certainty that the photo was taken sometime between 1886 and 1894, the exact date when this image was taken is uncertain and the photographer is unknown. Thousands of copies of this photograph are in circulation and almost all have a list of famous names added, usually at the bottom of the picture. These lists often include the following famous names: Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, Teddy Roosevelt, Doc Holiday, Liver Eating Johnson, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Bat Masterson, Judge Roy Bean and Ben Greenough.
Although Man #12 in the group photo is identified correctly as Harry Britton in the fanciful lists, the famous names found on copies of this photograph are in error. The men in this picture are not Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp, Teddy Roosevelt, Doc Holiday, Liver Eating Johnson, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Bat Masterson, Judge Roy Bean and Ben Greenough.
How did the names of so many famous old west gunslingers, lawmen and politicians become associated with this 19th-century photograph? Read The Photo Story for the answer to that salient question.
Research concerning the identities of the men depicted in the Hunters Hot Springs group photo has yielded the following information:
Albert Americus Rich was born on November 8, 1845 in New York state and came to Montana in 1872. Ten years later, Rich bought a small ranch located 560 yards northwest from the Hunters Hot Springs town site. Eventually, Rich expanded the ranch to over 1,000 acres and he and his family lived on this ranch long past the turn of the 20th century. During the 1890s, A. A. Rich was appointed Commissioner of Roads and Bridges in an area of Park County which included Hunters Hot Springs. According to Rich family archivist Sharon Pohlman, there is a written family history footnote that says A. A. Rich "worked for the railroad" which could explain the railway-style headgear he is wearing in the group photo.
The younger brother of A. A. Rich, Franklin Willson Rich, is Man 7 in the group photo (see Man 7).
Frederick W. Wright was born in Buffalo, New York in 1844. Enlisting at the age of 17, Wright fought on the side of the Union during the U. S. Civil War. He arrived in Livingston, Montana Territory in 1882 and worked as a druggist. In 1885 Wright became the first official Grand Master of the Livingston Masonic Lodge. He was elected postmaster of Livingston, then treasurer for Park County and, in the election of 1892, he became state treasurer for the newly-formed state of Montana.
An intriguing possibility concerning Frederick Wright was brought to my attention by Nicholas Mitchell of California. Mitchell made the initial identification of Fred Wright as Man 2. Mitchell postulates the HHS group photo may be a Masonic gathering and suggests the object held in Wright's hands might be a gavel, which would be used to call a Masonic meeting to order. Five of the men positively identified in the group photo thus far, Man 3 (John Savage), Man 6 (Dr A. J. Hunter), Man 10 (Charles Burg), Man 12 (Harry Britton) and Man 15 (Cyrus Mendenhall), were indeed Freemasons.
John A. Savage was born in Brownsville, Jefferson County, New York on July 29, 1840. He studied law in New York state. Savage came to Montana in 1867 looking for adventure and gold. By the mid-1880s he had settled in Livingston, close to Hunters Hot Springs, and opened a law office there. By 1890, Savage was appointed as a judge in Park County, Montana, an area which included Livingston and Hunters Hot Springs. Several items from the Livingston Enterprise newspaper during the late 1880s and 1890s mention that J. A. Savage visited Hunters Hot Springs for business and pleasure. Savage was a friend and legal advisor to Cyrus B. Mendenhall (the real Man 15 in the group photo). Mendenhall was the owner of the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel during this period (1886-1897).
It is not yet known whether John Savage was related to Charles W. Savage. Charles W. Savage took over management of the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel from Cyrus Mendenhall in 1897 and, a year later, he bought Liver Eating John Johnston's property in Red Lodge, Montana.
John Savage is included in the 1902 reference work Progressive Men of the State of Montana.
P. J. Nolan was born in Palo Alto County, Iowa on March 8, 1857. He served as postmaster of Ruthven, Iowa from 1885 to 1889. In 1892 he and his brother, John F. Nolan, moved their families to Livingston, Montana, where they engaged in the hardware business. Subsequently they made Livingston their home. They also engaged in mining for several years.
From Nolan's 1906 obituary: "Mr Nolan was for many years one of the leading citizens of our county. He was a large, well built, fine appearing gentleman. His companionship was at all times agreeable. He had good business ability and he applied himself methodically, judiciously, and assiduously. His life was most exemplary. He would never stoop to an act that would not bear the light of Christian scrutiny. His influence was at all times for the best in the social and political as well as in the business world. It was his earnest, his heartfelt desire to make them all that the best society would require them to be."
Born March 18, 1816 in Prince Edward County, Virginia, son of John Hunter and Sarah (Price) Hunter, Andrew Jackson Hunter was the youngest of sixteen children. About 1850, after attending medical college and spending several years in private practice in Louisiana, A. J. Hunter took a position as company physician for the Illinois Central Rail Road. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Dr Hunter joined the Confederacy as a battlefield surgeon. When the Civil War ended in 1865, Dr Hunter and his wife, Susannah, moved west with their three children, Mary, Davis and Lizzie.
In 1870, Dr Hunter established squatters rights for a piece of land north of the Yellowstone River in Montana Territory. On this land gushed a natural hot spring. The geothermally-heated water found there was rich in sulphur and iron, and Dr Hunter decided this would be a suitable place to settle with his family and build a theraputic spa and resort. The hotel and resort established by Dr Hunter flourished over the years and the resulting town site became known as Hunters Hot Springs. In 1885, Hunter sold the Hunters Hot Springs hotel and spa to Cyrus B. Mendenhall, Man 15 in the group picture. Dr Hunter was father-in-law to Frank Rich, Man 7 in the HHS group photo. Dr Hunter died in Bozeman, Montana in 1894.
A detailed history of the Hunter family in Montana by Sharon Pohlman is found here.
Dr A. J. Hunter is noted in the 1902 reference work Progressive Men of the State of Montana.
Younger brother to Albert A. Rich (Man 1 in the group photo), Frank Rich was born in New York state on November 5, 1847. He came to Montana in 1866 with his uncle, Charlie Rich, and Davis Willson. Frank became a teamster working for the firm Willson & Company based in Bozeman, Montana. In 1879, Frank Rich married Lizzie Hunter. Lizzie was the third child of Dr Andrew Jackson Hunter (Man 6 in the group photo), founder of Hunters Hot Springs and owner of the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel.
In 1880, Frank and Lizzie Rich moved to Hunters Hot Springs and opened the Rich Hotel there. The Rich Hotel was located less than one hundred yards northeast from Dr A. J. Hunter's Hot Springs Hotel, where the group photo was taken. Frank and Lizzie continued to live at the springs, on and off, until 1897 when they moved to Spokane, Washington. In 1914, Frank Rich and family relocated to a ranch in Dean, Montana. Frank Rich passed away in 1929 in Dean, Montana.
A detailed history of the Rich family in Montana by Sharon Pohlman is found here.
This man can be seen in at least two photographs taken at Hunters Hot Springs other than the group picture. These photos were taken in front of the post office at Hunters Hot Springs in 1897 (above right). In the post office pictures, this man stands alongside John A. Savage (Man 3 in the group photo).
The initial identification of Man 8 being one of the men in the 1897 HHS post office photos was made by Jerry Brekke, history editor for the Livingston Enterprise newspaper.
Man 9 is Zadock H. Daniels.
From the Livingston Enterprise (Souvenir) newspaper (c 1900) reprinted in Livingston (2009) by Elizabeth A. Watry and Robert V. Goss:
"Zadock H. Daniels counted among the earliest Park County residents and figured predominantly in establishing the mines in Cooke County in the early 1870s. As scout for Gen Alfred H. Terry, Daniels participated in several Indian campaigns before becoming post sutler at Fort Ellis and Fort Pease. A Montana resident for 40 years, Daniels served as deputy sheriff and assessor for Park County before his death in 1910."
In 1873, while Dr A. J. Hunter was building his hotel at Hunters Hot Springs, Zadock Daniels was superintendant of farming at the Crow Indian Agency at Fort Parker, Montana. The Crow Agency at Fort Parker was located eight miles west from Hunters Hot Springs.
Man 10 is Charles A. Burg.
Charles Burg was born in Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany, on January 8, 1849. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1869. Burg attended military school in Germany and upon arriving in the United States worked for a time in a brick yard. Burg relocated to East Minneapolis, Minnesota where he found employment in the lumber trade. Moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, Burg took a position in the United States quartermaster's office, for which his military training had qualified him.
From An Illustrated History of the Yellowstone Valley, published in 1907: "In August, 1876, he located on the present site of Miles City, and during the winter of 1876-7 was employed in cutting wood for the United States government, but retired from that occupation to associate himself with Capt. Charles Savage, who was engaged in the general merchandise business. Mr Burg continued in this line until 1882, in which year he removed to Clark City, now Livingston, arriving here ahead of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Until 1890 he was engaged in a general merchandise business, then being appointed United States Land Register at Lewistown, by President Benjamin Harrison, an office which he held four years. In 1894 he returned to Livingston and re-engaged in business as a merchant, and enjoyed a continued success until June 14, 1897, when he was appointed postmaster of Livingston by President McKinley, receiving successive re-appointments in 1901, 1905 and 1909. He has also acted in various other official capacities, having been the first city treasurer of Livingston in 1880. being a member of the school board for three years, and acting as a member of the first directing board of the Carnegie Free Library. He was one of the first to become a member of Livingston Lodge No. .32, A. F. & A. M., Livingston Chapter No. 7 R. A. M. and St. Bernard Commandery No. 6, K. T., and also belongs to Particular Consistory No. i, thirty-second degree, and Algeria Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of Helena; and the Sons of Hermann.
Harry Britton was born in England on April 15, 1864. He came to the United States via Canada. The official date of Harry Britton's immigration to the USA is listed as 1895, but his unofficial residence in the States probably began earlier. Records from the Northern Pacific Rail Road company show that Britton was employed as a brakeman by the NPRR between 1891 and 1898. Springdale, Montana, about a mile and a half southeast from Hunters Hot Springs, was a scheduled stop on the Northern Pacific RR line in the 1890s, and Hunters Hot Springs became a popular overnight rest stop for NPRR crews during that time. Harry Britton died on July 4, 1926 in Brady, Montana.
The sharpest print of the Hunters Hot Springs group photo I have seen is undated and belongs to the descendants of Harry Britton.
Born in Frazeysburg, Muskingum County, Ohio on July 28, 1830, Cyrus Mendenhall came to Montana in 1872. Mendenhall purchased the Hunters Hot Springs Hotel from Dr A. J. Hunter (Man 6 in the group photo) in the winter of 1885, improved the facilities and, ten years later in 1895, sold the HHS Hotel property. Mendenhall died on November 11, 1921 in Livingston, Montana.
C. B. Mendenhall was a well-known businessman and rancher of Eastern Montana. He is mentioned in the 1902 reference work Progressive Men of the State of Montana.