Bronaugh's Boy Photographer

Chester Gibbs

Chester Gibbs was born in 1885 just southwest of Bronaugh. While a young teenager, Chester saved enough money to buy a small camera. Before long, he was so successful that he purchased a good camera that made large glass slides. Chester was allowed to use his family's cellar as a dark room. He greatly preferred photography to farming. In order to escape farm work, Chester was told that he could follow his photography interest if he made enough money to hire a farm hand to do his work. Even though he was in his early teens, he made more than enough to pay a farm hand and Chester never farmed again.

We don't know who these tea party girls are, but this is an example of Chester Gibbs photography. He was quite talented.

This photo and the information about Chester comes from Jack and Mary Helen Allen. Chester was a brother to Jack's grandfather.

We would like to find scans of other photos that Chester may have made. They are sometimes identified by the rubber stamp on the front that says "C. A. Gibbs"

Chester kept a ledger listing who he had made photos for. Most were in the year 1900. This would indicate that there are lots of C. A. Gibbs photos out there. We would sure like to post more of them here.

Perhaps Chester's most "famous" photographs are a set of six photos Bronaugh scenes taken the day after the 1900 Bronaugh Bank Robbery when Constable Billy Morren was shot and killed. We know they exist, but have not seen them.

Chester's photos were surprisingly artistic yet casual in comparison to the typical posed studio photos common in 1900. Below are a number of other photos taken by Chet and shared by Jack and Mary Helen Allen. None are identified, but they were all surely taken around Bronaugh. If you recognize anyone, let us know. The first is a most unusual photo of five young people.

Jack wrote, "There were three photos in these handsome cardboard folders. The mount is 65mm by 80mm or about 2 9/16" by 3 1/16". The photo itself is only 1" by 1 1/4". The background is a dark grey-green."

Left: Jack believes that this is probably one of the tea party girls.


Lower left: The girl in the nice cape and fancy hat. But we don't know who she is.


Below: This is the third of the pictures in a dark green cardboard mount, but Jack cropped out the photo only. This one has "Biddie" written on the back in pencil.

left: This small photo was among the hundreds of photos in the Moore/Massey family collection shared by Charles W. Ray Jr. This photo is almost certainly a Gibbs photo since it matches the photos above so wells. The girls do not seem to be Moore or Massey family members. Very faint pencil on the back seems to say "Berryman Camp" and "B. Jones" and "35 cts".

Jack wrote, "These are the 65 mm by 80 mm size, mounted in this order on the 8" by 3 3/8" board, but, again, I've cropped the individual pictures out to show better detail. Suppose there's a chance someone might recognize somebody if they're on the web site?"

This is another example of Chet's casual 1900 style.

The Gibbs family left Bronaugh in spring, 1901. Chester continued his photography in their new home in Mountain Park, Oklahoma. By 1907, post cards had become quite the rage. Chester was soon making and selling post cards.

This is one of Chet's postcards. He had a big promotion taking these at the big 4th of July celebration.

This is 4 generations. Mary Parsons Gibbs (Chet's grandmother), William Henry Gibbs (Chet's father), Chet in the back and DeEtte, his niece, the baby of Verla Gibbs and Ollin J. Green.

Postcard from Jack and Mary Helen Allen.

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