J. J. Cornish – Walton, New York Photographer

July 15, 2023  •  Leave a Comment



J. J. Cornish was a photographer during the early 1870s at the village of Walton in the western Catskills of Delaware County, New York. Cornish had previously worked as a photographer for most of the 1860s at Dodgeville, Wisconsin; and after leaving Walton he worked as a photographer at several small villages in Colorado.


G. S. Mead's Residence, Walton, No. 5, by J. J. Cornish, Walton, New YorkG. S. Mead's Residence, Walton, No. 5, by J. J. Cornish, Walton, New York G. S. Mead's Residence. Author's collection.


Business Imprint, J. J. Cornish, Walton, New YorkBusiness Imprint, J. J. Cornish, Walton, New York Business Imprint, J. J. Cornish, Walton, N.Y. Author's collection.




John Jay Cornish was born on June 15, 1824, the son of Jacob Miller Cornish (1791-1852) and Susan (Patricke) Cornish (1796-1862). Jacob and Susan were married in New York City on January 1, 1818. Jacob worked as a carpenter and lived at Pine Hill, New York.


John was one of eight children. His siblings included William Henry (b. 1818); Alexander Hamilton (b. 1821); Nathaniel (b. 1822); Cornelius (b. 1826); James Chilson (b. 1829); Benjamin Franklin (b. 1833); and Abraham Loami (b. 1835).


William is supposed to have been killed by Quantrill’s Guerillas in Missouri during the Civil War. Alexander was a carpenter who lived for some years at Lexington, New York, but later moved to Menlo Park, New Jersey. Nathaniel died young when he was around two years old. Cornelius died young, although at what age is unknown. James was a carpenter and builder, being credited with constructing over 33 churches in various parts of New York. James later operated the Cornish House, a popular boarding house, at Pine Hill, New York. Benjamin worked as a manufacturer of window sash and lived at Pine Hill, New York. Abraham was a veteran of the Civil War, and worked as a silver plater and lived in Brooklyn, New York.


This line of the Cornish family can be traced back from John seven generations to Thomas Cornish, who settled at Newtown, New York (Long Island) very soon after its settlement in 1651. Newtown was renamed to Elmhurst in 1897. Thomas worked as a maker of pipe staves, or cooper.


Benjamin Cornish, John’s grandfather, was born in 1749. He married Freelove Miller, of Newtown, New York. “He was one of the leading citizens of Newtown, N.Y., both in church and town affairs. The church there was destroyed by the British soldiers during their occupation of New York in the Revolutionary War, and the organization was broken up and dispersed, and he and his wife, with three or four others, were all who gathered together again after the war to reorganize and rebuild the church. The British army was encamped near by his home all through the war, and the soldiers robbed him and his house of nearly everything that was of use or value that they could carry away. He seemed to be the particular object of their annoyance and abuse because of his known patriotic sentiments.”[1]


John married Sarah Jane Bowne (1824-1899), of New York City, on June 13, 1847. Sarah was born on February 23, 1824 at Paterson, New Jersey. John and Sarah had seven children, including Marcia E. (1853-1859); Susan A. (b. 1855); Mary Ida (b. 1857); Florence E. (b. 1859); Francis E. (b. 1862); Sarah Emma (b. 1865); and John A. (1867-1955).


Sarah passed away at the age of 75 on Friday night, February 24, 1899 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Kennedy, after a long illness. She is buried at the Hillside Cemetery in Saguache, Colorado. Sarah was well regarded in the community, as per her obituary published in the Saguache Advance.


“She has left six children behind in sorrow, to meet her husband in God’s immediate presence who preceded her about four months.


The last three years she had been a great sufferer a part of the time. During these ordeals of bodily affliction, she evidenced to the satisfaction of all who saw her what only a child of God can endure and not complain. She never murmured in the midst of numerous combined afflictions.


She had been a member of the M. E. Church for fifty years, upright and consistent. She was a kind hearted mother and wife and a devout Christian faithful unto death. She has gone to her reward as a devout disciple of Christ. May her remaining children “fight that good fight of faith” and meet her in the glories of heaven. Pastor.”               


The 1860 United States census listed John as residing at Merrimac in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Also living in the household was his wife, Sarah Jane; 64-year-old Marcia Bowne; his daughter, 4-year-old Susan Amelie; his daughter, 2-year-old Mary Ida; and his daughter, 8-month-old Florence Ella. John was listed with an occupation of carpenter. The three daughters were all listed as having been born in Wisconsin, meaning it is likely that John was living in Wisconsin at least by the mid-1850s.


By the year 1861 John seems to have switched careers from carpentry to photography. That year, while living at Dodgeville, Wisconsin, he placed an advertisement in the local newspaper for his new photography business.


“Something Worth Having – A Good Picture. J. J. Cornish would respectfully inform the public that he is prepared to take Ambrotypes, Melainotypes, Carte De Visites, Views of Residences, Locket Pictures taken and old pictures copied, he is fitted up expressly for the business, having a skylight, an indispensable article for getting a good picture.


Please call at the car nearly opposite the Court House and see his Premium Pictures.


Dodgeville, November 13th, 1861.”[2]


J. J. Cornish – Something Worth Having – A Good Picture.J. J. Cornish – Something Worth Having – A Good Picture.


Cornish quickly established a reputation for excellence. At the 1861 Iowa County Fair (Dodgeville is located in Iowa County, Wisconsin) he won an award for “best ambrotype.” The following years, in 1862 and 1863, he won the award for best daguerreotype and for the best ambrotype. In 1864 and 1865 he won the award for “best ambrotypes” and for “best photographs.”


In 1866 and 1867, in addition to winning “best ambrotypes” and “best photographs,” Cornish was also awarded the premium for “best porcelain pictures.” At the 1867 fair, the local newspaper noted that “Mr. Cornish displayed his usual taste in the arrangement of his splendid lot of sun pictures. His extra talent in the picture business has shut out competition, and he consequently always gets the first premiums.”[3]


In 1862, the Dodgeville Chronicle published a poem titled “The Picture” about Cornish and his photography business.


                “I tell you friends, I see’d a sight,

                I swow it beats all nater,

                A sausage stuffer set on legs,

                Just like some tarnal critter.


                The man what keeps the pesky thing,

                Has other funny fixtures,

                Inside his little Rail Road car,

                Where he takes the folk’s pictures.


                And if you go inside his car

                And sit down just a minit,

                The deuced little varmint’s sure

                To have your picture in it.


                He calls some picturs Ambrotypes,

                And when he goes to take ‘em,

                He pulls the muzzle off its nose,

                And it paints your face Verbatim.


                Or if you wish another kind,

                That’s struck fast on’ter paper,

                The dasted thing, can do it up,

                To beat all human nater.


                It must a tuck a mighty pile,

                To buy the little critter,

                And get them little boxes too,

                To put the picters inter.


                But still the pictures are so cheap,

                That all of you might have ‘em,

                And give one to your sweethearts, when,

                You’r goin’ off to leave ‘em.


                And now, all you that wants a picter

                That’s made ’th’out paint or varnish,

Take my advice and go and see,

                The Artist John J. Cornish.”


Throughout the 1860s the Dodgeville Chronicle, the local newspaper, carried various advertisements from Cornish and also published updates on his photographic business.


April 2, 1863, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Mr. Cornish has just been fixing up his car in first class order, where he will be found ready to take pictures in the highest style of the art, as good as the best, and as cheap as the cheapest.”


April 23, 1863, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Something Worth Having – A Good Picture. J. J. Cornish would respectfully inform the public that he is prepared to take photographs, carte de visites, vignetts, ambrotypes, melanotypes, taken in the highest style of the ART. View of Residencies, Locket pictures taken and old pictures copied.


Persons living at a distance wishing Photographs or Carte De Visites, by leaving their address can have them mailed.


1-16 size card pictures, of one person, 12 for $1.00.

Carte De Visites, of one person, 3 for $1.00.

Vignetts, of one person, 3 for $1.00.


Large sized photographs put up to suit purchasers. Oval, Gilt, and Rosewood frames, also Photograph Albums.


He is fitted up expressly for the business, having a skylight, an indispensable article for getting a good picture. Please call the car opposite the Court House, and see his Pictures.


Dodgeville, January 20th, 1863.”


April 23, 1863, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Mr. J. J. Cornish has just been fitting up his car in a handsome manner, and is now ready to attend to all orders for pictures. See advertisement in another column.”


July 2, 1863, Dodgeville Chronicle


“THANKS.– That Mammoth pie plant, & c., from the garden of Mr. Cornish was quite a treat. Success to him. And we would just make a passing remark to those who wish to preserve the life features of themselves or their friends, they cannot do better than go to his car and have their photographs & c., taken. He will satisfy you, our word for it.”


August 20, 1863, Dodgeville Chronicle


“We paid a visit the other day to the Photographic car of friend Cornish, and were shown some of the finest new specimens of work that we have seen for many a day. Mr. Cornish is a true artist, and those wanting good pictures cannot do better than to patronize home manufacture.”


December 10, 1863, Dodgeville Chronicle


         “The Holidays are coming. For nice pictures go to Cornish’s.”


February 18, 1864, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Secure the shadow, ere the substance fade.” – And the best place to secure that perfect shadow, in Iowa County, is without exception at J. J. Cornish’s Photographic Gallery in Dodgeville.


Mr. Cornish has been with us some time, and deserves considerable credit for his perseverance in building up quite a respectable business, out of the poorest kind of a show. He has lately received from New York one of those large sized cameras, the best in use; it is warranted to take a perfect picture, at any distance from three feet to six miles, when worked by one who understands its use, and every one knows that Mr. C. is a thorough artist, and being fully prepared with apparatus, chemicals, cases, mats, frames, & c, to take and finish those large and justly admired photographs, in the best style of the art, we would recommend those wishing such to call on Mr. C. at an early day.”


March 24, 1864, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Something New.– Our friend J. J. Cornish, Photographic Artist, is determined to be up to the times, and has now procured from Chicago, a splendid view of the far-famed Hudson River; it is got good style, and sets off the background of a photograph very handsomely. If you want your Carte de Visite in good style, surrounded by beautiful scenery, call at J. J. Cornish’s Photographic Gallery.”


July 21, 1864, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Our excellent artist J. J. Cornish got a very good and almost instantaneous photograph of YANKEE ROBINSON’S band carriage, private carriage, & c. in front of his rooms, while they were in town, including over thirty persons in the street, and on the steps of the Court House. Since Mr. Cornish has made so many additions and improvements to his gallery, he cannot be beat in this part of the State for taking perfect life-like pictures, scenes or views.”


July 28, 1864, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Signs of Prosperity.– Our energetic citizen artist, J. J. Cornish, Esq., is engaged in putting up a fine business building adjoining the residence of A. B. Robinson. Success to you friend C.”


October 20, 1864, Dodgeville Chronicle


“By calling on J. J. Cornish you can see a stock of the best Photographic Albums ever brought to Town. Go soon and secure one before they are all gone, for they are going like hot cakes.”


November 17, 1864, Dodgeville Chronicle


“The other day we chanced to step into the new Photograph Gallery of our friend J. J. Cornish, and we must confess that we were pleasingly surprised to see with what taste and good judgment his rooms were fitted up. They are by a long way superior to anything we had seen in this part of the country, and being of ample size and well furnished, they look far more like business than the little cooped up place where the photographs and ambrotypes which have taken the first premiums at our County Fairs, for the last three years have been made.


The Gallery has been built expressly for the business, and consequently is furnished with one of the best sky-lights in the country, and has other conveniences necessary to the successful development of photographs. Now we believe that most, if not all, of our readers know that Mr. Cornish is a first-class artist, for a great many have tried him, and others have had our testimony heretofore, but as a gentle reminder or a refreshener of the memory, we would just state that he actually is the best artist in this part of the State, and can furnish pictures in as good style as can be done at any other place. By all means give him a call.”


April 13, 1865, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Saved from Deserting. How inexorable are the laws of war; and how harsh – and at times we are led to say unjust – are some of the regulations, by which our country’s brave defenders are governed.


One brave fellow, who at the first call of his country, left his wife and three sickly children, had served faithfully more than two years; had been in almost every battle, was wounded nine times – thinking it an honor to be wounded in his country’s service. But the hour of temptation came. His wife wrote him that the children had grown quite healthy, and that her friends complimented her by saying she looked better than ever she did before.


His desire to see his wife and family was now intense, he had repeatedly asked for a furlough, and as often been refused; finally he had concluded to desert the service and see them, if he lost his life in so doing. But he was prevented; his wife knowing his anxiety to see them, paid a visit to J. J. Cornish, Photographic Artist, of Dodgeville, Wis., and procuring pictures of the whole family, sent them to him. On their arrival, the husband pronounced them so good and life-like, that he determined not to desert; and to this day the wife thanks Mr. Cornish for saving her husband from utter disgrace and probably an ignominious death, by taking such good photographs of herself and children.”


August 10, 1865, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Our good looking photographic friend, Cornish, was quite a heavy loser by the hail storm in the breaking of nearly every light of glass in his fine large skylight; but like the energetic fellow that he is, all damage is repaired, and today he is again busy taking pictures as if not a pane of glass had been broken. Success to you, friend C.”


December 21, 1865, Dodgeville Chronicle


        “Oh wad some pow’r the giftie gie us.

        To see oursel’s as ithers see us.”


J. J. Cornish, photographic artist of Dodgeville, possesses that giftie, in a larger degree than any other man in Iowa County, and he is ready and willing to gie it to anyone on application. In other words, he takes the most perfect likenesses, either ambrotypes, photographs, or the later styles of pictures. They are so perfect that we may look on them and “see oursel’s as ithers see us.” Little did the poet think in his day, that art would ever arrive at such perfection. His porcelain pictures, a new thing in this part of the world, are really splendid. They are without doubt, the most perfect likeness of anything yet produced. Don’t fail to call on J. J. Cornish, at this gallery over the Post Office, if for no other purpose, by all means call and see his new style of pictures.”


January 4, 1866, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Cornish, being determined not to be behind the times, has so perfected his arrangements that he is now prepared to take those celebrated Porcelain pictures. So if you want a portrait taken in the latest and best style of the art, go to Cornish’s.”


May 31, 1866, Dodgeville Chronicle


“People come from Mineral Point, Linden, Highland, and in fact, every other part of the county, to let J. J. Cornish have a look at them through his excellent camera. Mr. Cornish’s five year’s operations in this place have established his character as a Photographer, and it now stands far ahead of any other person in this part of the state.”


February 7, 1867 advertisement, Dodgeville Chronicle


“J. J. Cornish’s Photographic Gallery. Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Being monthly in receipt of all the improvements and novelties in Europe and eastern cities, is now better prepared than ever to put up all styles and sizes of PICTURES. He also keeps constantly on hand Picture Frames consisting of Gilt, Rose Wood, Black Walnut, and other kinds. Also, albums of different styles and prices, for sale cheap. Give him a call – opposite court house. Dodgeville, February 7, 1867.”


February 7, 1867, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Cornish is still at the head of his profession in this part of the world. His photographs and porcelain pictures are unsurpassed, and so perfect are they that we are inclined to think they are unsurpassable.”


February 14, 1867, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Do our readers generally know that Cornish is now prepared to take those splendid cabinet sized pictures? If they never did before, they know now. If you want a good picture call and get one of these celebrated pictures of Cornish.”


December 6, 1867, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Those patent chain back Albums which Cornish is offering for sale, are truly nice. They are handsome, good, cheap and durable.”


June 12, 1868 advertisement, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Something New.– Cornish, of the Dodgeville photographic gallery has purchased the right of this county for a new invention, “Robinson’s Photograph Albums, or revolving pictures.” It is an elegant little box, about 6 by 10 inches, and 6 inches high; a beautiful ornament for a center table, and so arranged that the pictures can all be seen, 50 in number, by turning a knob, without opening the album. But what is the use of our attempting to describe it, for when we have finished you would of course go and see it, and then would have a better idea of it than we could give you in a whole page.”


July 3, 1868 advertisement, Dodgeville Chronicle


“J. J. Cornish, Photographic Artist, and dealer in photographs, chromos, lithographs, steel engravings, stereoscopic views & stereoscopes, revolving albums, chain back and common albums, cord & tassels, frames & c. & c. Pictures framed to order.


Persons wanting Albums should call and see my revolving albums. They are the best article ever introduced for the preservation of pictures.


Dodgeville, July 3, 1868.”


J. J. Cornish, Photographic ArtistJ. J. Cornish, Photographic Artist


September 4, 1868, Dodgeville Chronicle


“J. J. Cornish, Photographic Artist, has closed his gallery for the present to complete the job he has been at for several weeks, of putting in one of the best skylights in the west. It is a style of skylight which has been thoroughly tried in the east, and has answered so well, that it is rapidly superseding all others, and as Mr. Cornish wants to make as good pictures as any artist in the United States, he concluded he must have one of these lights. He promises to have his improvements all completed and to open again in about two weeks.”


December 11, 1868, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Cornish has a fine collection of elegant pictures, which are very appropriate for holiday presents. Call and see them.”


December 18, 1868, Dodgeville Chronicle


“We would call the attention of the marriageably inclined to a novelty “photographic marriage certificate,” for sale at “Cornish’s gallery and the Primitive Methodist parsonage” – that is Cornish will take your photograph, and Rev. Alderson will perform the ceremony and furnish the certificate, which is really beautiful. We are printing some, not quite so elaborate, the price of which will bring them within the reach of all.”


December 25, 1868, Dodgeville Chronicle


“Cornish, at his gallery, has a large and beautiful assortment of pictures, albums, etc., suitable for holiday gifts.”


January 1, 1869, Dodgeville Chronicle


“J. J. Cornish at the Dodgeville photographic gallery has a large and well selected assortment of steel engravings, chromos, and other pictures and photographic albums, which are “in seasons” as presents at all times. He is the best artist in this part of the state, invariably taking the premiums at the county fair.”


February 12, 1869, Dodgeville Chronicle


“How much money would be necessary to buy the picture of a departed friend or relative? How would you like to part with the likeness of little Minnie, who died last summer? Don’t wait till it is too late, but get a copy of all your children and relatives. You will prize them highly in the coming years. Mr. Cornish is doing some excellent work in the photograph line. Give him a call at once.”


In June 1869, after approximately eight years at Dodgeville, Cornish made plans to move to New York. His gallery was taken over by Isaac C. Jones.


“Going.– The many friends of John J. Cornish will be sorry to hear that he leaves with his family for New York on Monday next. Mr. Cornish came to this village about eight years ago. He had a small photograph car, and a very limited stock. Being a first class artist, and a very industrious man, he gradually increased his business and facilities until he was acknowledged the best artist in this part of the country. He built a fine building on Iowa street, and for years has been doing a very good business. But his family growing up, and being ambitious, he has concluded to move to a larger field for operation. Mr. Cornish has always been recognized as an enterprising, liberal and good citizen, and we part with him with many regrets, but with every wish for his future success, health and happiness.”[4]


By the summer of 1869 Cornish was living at the village of Walton in Delaware County, New York. He quickly went to work, taking stereoscopic views of the scenery in and around Walton. By early 1870 he had fitted out photographic rooms over J. B. Gray’s Trimming Shop on North Street. In April 1870 Cornish had “the frame up for his new house and photograph rooms, near the residence of H. B. Niles.”[5]


By June 1870 Corning had moved from J. B. Gray’s place to new rooms at his residence, at the head of North Street, “where he claims to have the best facilities in the county for taking a good picture.”[6] An advertisement in the local newspaper on November 2, 1870 placed the Cornish gallery “three doors above the Methodist Church, on North Street, Walton, N.Y.”


The 1870 United States census listed 46-year-old John as residing in the village of Walton in Delaware County, New York. He was living with his brother, James C. Cornish, and his family. John was listed with an occupation of photographer. James Marion, John’s nephew, was listed with an occupation of apprentice photographer. James was working as a carpenter. John’s wife and children were not listed as residing in Walton.


On February 8, 1871 the Walton Chronicle wrote that “we are in receipt of a winter view of Mead’s Dam, taken by our excellent Photographic Artist, Mr. J. J. Cornish. It was taken as a stereoscopic view, and will go with the other views of Walton, taken last summer. Mr. Cornish’s views are equal to the best views made by New York City artists.”[7] Cornish continued to advertise his gallery at Walton in May 1871.


At this time, it is not known how long Cornish remained at Walton beyond 1871, but by around 1880 he had moved to Colorado, where he was working as a photographer at the village of Del Norte. The 1880 United States census listed Cornish as residing at Del Norte in Rio Grande County, Colorado. He was listed with an occupation of photographer. He was listed as living alone, with his family not being listed with him on the census.


The town of Del Norte was established in 1874, only six years before Cornish’s approximate arrival. It originally served as a base camp for the workers in the nearby gold and silver mines. As the town grew, it also served as the social, financial and commercial center for nearby communities, including Silverton, Platoro, and Lake City. Today Del Norte, supported by the local farming, agricultural and tourism industries, continues to serve as the county seat for Rio Grande County, Colorado.


In May 1881 the village of Del Norte was the location of great excitement; scenes of which Cornish was able to photograph. Arthur Pond, using the alias Billy Leroy, and his brother, Silas Pond, using the alias Samuel Potter, had conducted a robbery of the Barlow & Sanderson stagecoach on May 18 in the area, six miles east of Clear Creek. A search party from Del Norte was quickly organized to track down the robbers. Both Pond brothers were captured by the local authorities soon thereafter and taken to the jail at Del Norte.


The citizens of Del Norte had ideas other than the normal course of legal proceedings. A large mob of around 40 armed men went to the jail on the night of May 23. They overpowered the sheriff and the guards, pulled the two robbers outside, placed them in a wagon, took them to a large cottonwood tree located near the depot on the north side of town, and they were hanged.


The bodies were photographed by J. J. Cornish, first at the cottonwood tree where they were hung, and again when they, “stiff as steel bars,” were propped up against the outside of the jail. These photographs, with the caption “Adios, Pond Bros. – road agents,” were then offered for sale by Cornish to the citizens of Del Norte. Arthur and Silas Pond were buried in a distant section of the Del Norte Cemetery.


The San Juan Prospector, the local newspaper, published a detailed article about the incident in their May 28, 1881 issue. The title of article was “Buzzard Meat,” and was followed by the sub-titles of “Leroy and Potter, Road Agents and Desperadoes, Captured by Del Norters. They register at the Del Norte Jail, are Taken out by Masked Men, and “Fixed” for the Coyotes. Both Men Die Game, Not Even a Whisper for Mercy or Time to Pray. Broken Necks are Trumps, and Billy and Sammy Ornament the Lower Pits of Hades. Full Particulars of the Picnic, From the Robbery to Rope. Bad Men.”


In 1882, the Saguache Advance, the local newspaper, wrote a brief profile about Cornish, praising his abilities as a photographer and his “indomitable pluck.”


“Mr. Cornish, our photographer, is a genius who ought to be liberally patronized. He has the free use of only his left hand, and yet he has built his present house and rooms, has manufactured his own instruments so that they can be operated with the left hand, and he now has all arranged for doing first-class work. He has done all this while fighting against ill health. An old photographer who recently visited his photograph gallery, told your correspondent that Mr. Cornish had his lighting facilities so arranged that they were the best in the state outside of Denver. He does good work. A man who shows such indomitable pluck, and who is master of his art, deserves a liberal patronage from home and abroad.”[8]


In 1884 Cornish advertised his business in the local newspaper. The advertisement read “San Juan Photographic Art Gallery. J. J. Cornish, Artist. I defy all honorable competition in quality or price, and have a good stock of photographic material on hand that will be made up at the lowest living prices. Examine prices and work. No Sunday work.”[9] That same year it was advertised that Cornish’s stereoscopic views were for sale at the business of Charles Tucker.


In 1885 the local newspaper wrote that “Mr. Cornish, the photographer, says he takes the Queen Bee for the jokes. The ladies should appreciate the fact that Del Norte has one of the best photographers in the country, and an advocate for woman’s political equality, besides a good, jolly, industrious citizen.”[10]


That same year, in 1885, it was advertised that there was a “great reduction in prices at J. J. Cornish’s San Juan Art Gallery. Call and see before going elsewhere.”


The 1885 Colorado state census listed Cornish as residing in Rio Grande County, Colorado. He was living with his wife Sarah and his 18-year-old son John. Cornish was listed with an occupation of photographer. Sarah was listed as “keeping house” and John was listed as “at home.”


Some of the scenic works taken by J. J. Cornish were included as part of a series titled “Colorado Views.” According to T. K. Treadwell and William C. Darrah in their book Photographers of the United States of America, there were approximately 89 views in the series. Subjects included local scenery, hunting, churches, and much more. A few of the titles in this series include:


  • No. 21, Little Annie Tramway, Summit Dist, Alt. 12,000 ft.
  • No. 71, Summitville, Colorado, Alt. 11,300.  


No. 21. Little Annie Tramway, Summit Dist, Alt 12,000 ft.No. 21. Little Annie Tramway, Summit Dist, Alt 12,000 ft.Colorado Views by J. J. Cornish, Del Norte. No. 21. Little Annie Tramway, Summit Dist., Alt 12,000 ft. Boston Public Library.


The Yale University Library at New Haven, Connecticut is home to a wide-ranging collection of stereoviews taken by J. J. Cornish. The Yale University archive classified the stereoviews into two series; first, scenes in and around Del Norte and, second, scenes in and around the Summitville Mining District. It is estimated that these views were taken circa 1880.


Stereograph views of Del Norte, Rio Grande, Colorado.

No. 1. Del Norte, from Lookout Mountain.

No. 2. West Side Spruce St. Del Norte, Colo.

No. 3. Del Norte, Colo. from east cliff: Columbia Avenue, Del Norte.

No. 4. Hotel Grand Avenue, Del Norte.

No. 5. South Lookout Mountain. From Rio Grande River

No 11. School-House Del Norte.

No. 12. M. E. Church, Del Norte.

No 15. Varg[?]on Place, Del Norte.

No. 35. San Juan Mountain's from Continental Divide.

No. 38. Rio Grande at Del Norte.

No. 41. Presbyterian Church. Del Norte, Colo.

No. 43. Presbyterian Church interior. Del Norte, Colo.

No. 44. Presbyterian Church. Del Norte, Colo.

No. 45. Baldy Mountain and Lake, Alt 13000 ft.

No. 48. Baldy Mountain East Lake, Alt 13150 ft.

No. 49. Baldy Mountain Lake, Alt 13100 ft.

No. 55. Natural Wall, Saguache Co. Colo.

No. 57. Natural Wall & Great Arch. Saguache Co. Colo.

No. 58. Great hole in the Natural Wall. Saguache Co. Colo.

No. 64. Natural Arch on Dry Creek Colo.

No. 80. Del Norte. Colo. from North Lookout Mountain.

No. 81. Table Mountain from continental divide.

No. 84. Palace Rock on Pine Creek.

Alt. No. 88. On snowy peaks of San Juan, Aug 31st Alt 13300 ft.

No. 111. R. C. Nisbet's resident on the Rio Grande. Burger & Alice Del Norte, Colo.

No. 137. Observatory of Presbyterian College of the south west.


Stereograph views of Summitville Mining District, Rio Grande County, Colorado.

No. 1. Looking west Summit district.

No. 12. First school at Summitville. Clara Larson Teacher 1843.

No. 14. South Mountain Summit Dit.

No. 16. South Mountain Summit Dist, Alt 12,700 ft.

No. 17.  Looking east from above Mills Summit Dit.

No. 19. M. Bowen's Ida Tunnel Summit Dist. Alt. 11800 ft.

No. 22. Little Annie Mine, Summit Dist, Alt. 12,000 ft.

No. 26. Little Annie Cabin. Summit Dist.

No. 31. Bobtail Lode Summit Dist. Alt 12200 ft.

No. 37. Looking up Pines Creek.

No. 65. Looking down the Summitville Tole Road.

No. 70. Summitville from Iron Springs. Alt 11,300 ft.

No. 74. Iowa & Colo? House Summit Dist. Alt 11900 ft.

No. 76. East side South Mountain Summit Dist. Alt. 12,100 ft.

No. 77. Summitville from Continental Divide Alt. 11,900 ft.

No. 78. Cropsey Mill Summit Dist. Alt. 11,800 ft.

No. 79. Miners home Summit Dist Alt. 11,100 ft. Aug 30 1832.


In 1889 “Mr. J. J. Cornish, recently from Del Norte, has located on the Navajo, where he has taken up a valuable ranch. He and his wife were in town Tuesday taking out their homestead papers.”[11]


In the early 1890s Cornish was still working in the photography industry. The Colorado state business directory listed Cornish as residing in Chromo from 1890 until his passing in 1898. The local newspaper wrote about some of the developments in his business during these years.


March 12, 1891, Pagosa Spring News. “Mr. Cornish is working on a building which he will occupy when finished as artist’s and assayer’s rooms.”


June 13, 1891, San Juan Prospector. “E. F. Hilton, formerly of Alamosa, has moved his photographic gallery to Del Norte, and will occupy the old Cornish stand on Spruce street. Mr. Hilton advertises in our Business News department this week, and has come to stay. Drop in and look at his work.”


November 3, 1892, “Chromo News,” Pagosa Spring News. “Mr. Cornish has completed his photograph gallery. It is one of the neatest rooms in the county.”


November 10, 1892, Pagosa Spring News. “While at Chromo last week the writer was shown through the photograph gallery of J. J. Cornish. Mr. Cornish’s gallery is fixed up with all modern conveniences and would be good enough for any town of five thousand people. Mr. Cornish’s work is second to none.”




Although his time at Walton, New York was relatively brief, Cornish contributed to the village’s outstanding reputation for offering first-class photographic rooms. Other photographers of note that have operated at Walton included Frank L. Sprague, Hiram H. Miller, G. W. Simpkins, the Kinch Brothers, Burton Hine and many others. Cornish was highly regarded for his photographic abilities wherever he worked.


John Jay Cornish, “an old resident of Del Norte,” passed away on October 26, 1898 at the residence of Milton Welch in Chromo, Colorado. He is buried at Chromo Cemetery in Archuleta County, Colorado.


[1] Cornish, Joseph E. The History and Genealogy of the Cornish Families in America. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis Co., 1907. pp. 262-263.

[2] Dodgeville Chronicle (Dodgeville, Wisconsin). September 18, 1862.

[3] Dodgeville Chronicle (Dodgeville, Wisconsin). October 4, 1867.

[4] “Going.” Dodgeville Chronicle (Dodgeville, Wisconsin). June 25, 1869.

[5] Walton Chronicle (Walton, New York). April 27, 1870.

[6] Walton Chronicle (Walton, New York). June 22, 1870.

[7] Walton Chronicle (Walton, New York). February 8, 1871.

[8] Saguache Advance. June 1, 1882.

[9] San Juan Prospector. February 2, 1884.

[10] The Queen Bee. January 21, 1885.

[11] San Juan Prospector. August 31, 1889.



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