John C. H. Grabill
Photographs of Wounded Knee
and the Dakotas - 1886-1892

Very little is known about John C. H. Grabill. His photographs taken in the aftermath of the massacre of Wounded Knee in January 1891, show powerful composition and a mastery of technic equal to the greatest of the frontier photographers.

He opened his first photographic studio in Sturgis, Dakota Territory in 1886, with studios in Hot Springs, Lead and Deadwood, Dakota Territory through 1891. He then moved to Chicago and operated a studio until 1894, at which point no other information about Grabill is available.

Most that is known about his photographic career comes from the group of 188 photographs he sent the Library of Congress for copyright protection between 1887 and 1892. Here is a listing of titles and copyright dates for each print.

He created photographic stock views of mining, stagecoaches, trains, cowboys, notable natural landmarks such as Devils Tower, which became a national monument in 1906.

Most remarkable are Grabill's large format, 10 x 12" albumen photographs taken at Pine Ridge during the aftermath of Wounded Knee. The massacre occurred on December 28, 1890, in which hundreds Indians were killed by the Hotchkiss Gun pictured in the photograph titled, 3692 1/2. Paul Wernert and Gunners of Battery "A" 1st Artillery. Other photographs of this event include views of Brule Sioux encampment, and views of Buffalo Bill, General Nelson Miles and other instigators and survivors of the massacre.

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