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HUFFMAN, Laton Alton 1854-1931


Posted By: Connie Ellis (email)
Date: 11/16/2016 at 23:44:29

SOURCE: WAUKON STANDARD REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT, newspaper clipping dated November 19, 1983 titled:
"FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE WEST ONCE LIVED IN WAUKON" with additional biographical facts researched by the transcriber, Connie Ellis (not related)

Hidden in a long obituary for P.C. Huffman in the July 11, 1894 issue of the Waukon Standard is a reference to his surviving children, one of them was Layton(sic) A. Huffman of Miles City, Montana. Not too many Northeast Iowans are aware that the son is the famed L.A. Huffman who is variously known as the "Frontier Photographer" and the "Photographer on Horseback" and whose life has been the subject of at least a couple of books.

Huffman was born October 31, 1854 on a farm in Winneshiek County, near Castalia, Iowa. His father moved the family to Waukon in 1855 and opened a photographic studio. Laton apparently learned the profession as he was growing up but was not sold on it. However, after working for a time in North Dakota, he returned to work in his father's shop. At the age of 21, he opened a studio of his own in Postville. After what was reported to be an unhappy love affair, Laton left the area and moved to Moorhead, Minnesota working in a photo shop. It was in the fall of 1878 that he started what was to be his career of photographing scenes in the "Old West".

Mark H. Brown and William Reid Felton* wrote a book about the photographer called "BEFORE BARBED WIRE", which contained 124 of his photographs of the old west. His work was compared to another photographer of that era, Matthew Brady, best known for his Civil War pictures. The two men also wrote another book called "THE FRONTIER YEARS".

Laton A. Huffman was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1976. Undoubtedly he is the only Waukon resident to achieve that honor.

* William Reid Felton was the son-in-law of L.A. Huffman.

Additional biographical information from transcriber:
Laton Alton Huffman was the son of Perrin Cuppy Huffman (1832-1894) and Chastina Baird (1831-1875). His parents were both born in Ashland County, Ohio. Perrin and Chastina married on September 21, 1851 and moved to Iowa at an unknown date. Laton was born on October 31, 1854 near Castalia, Iowa. About 1879 he left Minnesota and moved to Miles City, Montana Territory to work as a post photographer at Fort Keogh which was a military post established shortly after the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876 when General Custer and his men were killed. Fort Keogh was to provide military protection in the eastern portion of the Montana Territory. Huffman captured photographs of landscapes, animals, early ranches, street scenes, and the people. It is believed that his pictures of buffalo hunting between 1880-1883 are some of the few that exist. Those photographs are historically significant.

Huffman married Ann Skinner (1859-1943) on October 18, 1883 in Miles City. They became the parents of two daughters. Elizabeth "Bessie" Huffman married William Reid Felton on June 16, 1909 in Miles City, Montana. They had 4 children and lived in Sioux City, Iowa. The other daughter was Ruth Huffman who married Vernon Lorenzo Scott on March 23, 1910 in Miles City, Montana. Laton and his wife Ann lived in California in his retirement years. He died in Billings, Montana on December 28, 1931 while on a holiday visit to his daughter Ruth. Laton and Ann are buried in the Custer County Cemetery in Miles City, Montana. At the time of his father's death in 1894, there was a sister listed as a survivor besides Laton. The sister was named Della Huffman, who lived in Waukon, and was the wife of Alonzo A. Barnard. Alonzo Barnard was a photographer in Waukon. It is not known if Della was alive in 1931.


Previously posted by S. Ferrall on 9/6/2014:

Waukon, Ia., Jan. 7 - Waukon friends of Laton Huffman, a former Waukon boy, received word of his recent death which occurred at his home in California. His father will be remembered here as P.C. Huffman, a photographer in the early days of Waukon.

The deceased was also a photographer and was widely known throughout the Rocky Mountain region and the west for his outdoor photos. A number of his pictures were used by leading magazines.

~Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, Dubuque, Iowa, Thursday evening edition, January 7, 1932


Allamakee Obituaries maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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