Letter to E. E. Ayer, Crow Agency, Montana

E. A. Burbank. August 21, 1897.

Image of Letter to E. E. Ayer, Crow Agency, Montana

The painter Elbridge Ayer Burbank was commissioned by his uncle Edward E. Ayer to produce a series of portraits of American Indians of the West. In this letter, Burbank discusses painting the warrior White Swan and selling paintings by them both.

Crow Agency

Aug 21/97

My dear Uncle,

I will leave here Sept 1st for the Cheyenne’s. Have got 23 pictures finished 20 of them are Crows and all of them very saleable. Have painted two pictures of White Swan front view and profile he has made me several large drawings colored of the hat he took in the Custer fight with Reno all of the other Indians & Scouts deserted Reno except White Swan and he stuck by him he was got some terrible wounds.

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White Swan made me a present of the drawings I have a good portrait of Chief Deaf Bull. The Agent here has sent for Chief Plenty Cous who lives some 80 miles from here to come here and sit for me, expect him next week. Plenty Cous and Pretty Eagle are the two principal Chiefs of the Crows. Mr. P. B. Neare told me to be sure and get portraits of them both. After I leave the Cheyenne’s will go to the Blackfeet then to the Flatheads and then to the Nez Perces I don’t think I will go any further West than Nez Perces as am told the Indians are

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too much civilized so I will come back and stop off with the Pine Ridge Sioux’s don’t think I will be in Chicago until middle of Nov. I haven’t heard yet whether my picture arrived at your office all right or not. I sent 5 Aug 8 and sent 8 Aug 10 prepaid the charges and addressed them to Elbridge Burbank in your care and Office address also wrote a letter with each package to Mr. Raher describing about the picture to put them in the safe and not to open them. I received a letter dated Aug 17 from Mr. Raher stating he had just returned from 10 days vacation

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and as soon as pictures arrived he would let me know and would take care of them. The pictures must have been there in the office when he wrote as 9 & 7 days had passed when he wrote, so I have written another letter and addressed it to the office so it will be opened if Mr. Raher is absent asking about the pictures. I am awfully anxious about them as the 13 pictures represent over $2000,00 and lots of hard work and the very best sittings among them. I intended to paint every single Indian tribe in America, this winter will spend among the

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Southern Indians have thought of going to San Carlos in Arizona where the Apaches are and paint the other Indians North of them. They tell me there is a tribe of Indians near Palm Beach Florida called the Seminoles that the government could not get to go to Indian Territory with the rest of the tribe – do you know about them? The reason have been staying here so long is because I can get such saleable subjects among the Indians here. I could of sold two of the Indians here to a Chicago men both wanted Pretty Eagle’s picture but I don’t intend to sell a single

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picture until get to Chicago and have an exhibition. Would you like to have White Swan make you a set of pictures of his life? He would make it for $2.00 at least, they are very interesting much more so than what Hawgone made.

Your affectionate



Metadata Details
Item Type Letter
Title Letter to E. E. Ayer, Crow Agency, Montana
Short Title Letter from Crow Agency, 1897
Creator E. A. Burbank
Publication Date August 21, 1897
Call Number Ayer MS 120, Box 1, Folder 10
Location Special Collections 4th Floor