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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Daniel H. Talbot Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1882-1904
Creator: Talbot, Daniel H.
Extent: 1.00 linear foot.
Collection Number: MSC0404
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Attorney and amateur naturalist. Photographs of Labrador and Texas.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Boxes 1 and 2.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: Mr. Talbot donated these materials to the University of Iowa over a period of years, beginning in 1891.

Preferred Citation: Daniel H. Talbot Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Daniel Hector Talbot was an attorney, an amateur naturalist -- and a colorful resident of Sioux City, Iowa, after the Civil War and into the 1920s. From a letter dated October 20, 1946 sent by H. H. Sterling (San Francisco) to Melvin Sterling (Iowa City) we learn that Talbot "had an office in one of Sioux City's early day shack buildings though I never heard of his trying a case, except his own. He must have had considerable means, as he bought up a lot of old soldiers "Script" issued to them after the Civil War and applicable on open U.S. land. With large amounts of Script he acquired a vast holding of land in North and South Dakota territories. This land was traded for land along the Big Sioux River in Woodbury and Plymouth Counties, 7500 acres of rough timber and grazing and some tillable. This was divided into tracts 1, 2, 3, fenced and cross-fenced at great expense with boughten cedar posts and barbed wire, which was new at that time. They tried out three types and the kind most suited seemed to be one made from a flat galvanized strip with teeth on each side, then twisted in a loose twist and very strong.

"He made a trip to Labrador and had a dead whale shipped to Sioux City, whether for exhibition or scientific purposes can't say as the thing was so far gone that he refused to accept it and in the squabble between himself and the mail company the town had to intervene and get an order to haul it away and dump it in the river. That's the first intimation that I've heard that Sioux City had any health department.

"These things took place in the early 1880s or late 1870s [actually August-September 1882]. The only incident I know of his trying to make the land pay was bringing in thousands of yearling cattle to graze about 1885.

"He made a trip to Europe and Mediterranean country and came back with two Numbian lions which were installed in pits (other pits) with wolves and some kind of bears. He had deer and burros from foreign land and a big American bison which he used to try to produce a cross with native cattle but the result was hybrid (cattle) and never got past the second cross. They were immense things with such large shoulders that the cows had to be killed to deliver them. There were subtracts to hold the different animals, some of the fences up to 16 barb wire and immense posts, in spire of which they broke out at times.

"This land was miles from the town and he lived there and drove back and forth to his office. All this was for his private person and not open to the public. He build several dwellings and at least three large barracks-like buildings to store books and specimens.

"He even tried to experiment as to the "Missing Link" which resulted in a law suit by a woman he had taken out from town and a large ape alledged to have chewed and injured her, settled out of court.

"The First National Bank at Sioux City made Talbot a loan some time along here and when the bank failed in the early 90s the loan was not allowed by the government authorities and to make it legal the president, T. J. Stone, had to take over the loan personally and later proceeded to foreclose and take title, disposing of the upper farms and finally selling the no. 1 to the city of Sioux City and it was made into Stone Park.

"Talbot died in a small shack in N. Riverside within the last 20 years destitute."

There is some evidence that Talbot made a 1878 trip to Wyoming with Thomas Edison to observe a solar eclipse, an 1883 trip down the Arkansas River collecting bird specimens, but there are no confirming documents in this collection. Some of the photographs described below indicate a trip to south Texas in 1885.

In 1891, Talbot gave the University of Iowa Library a substantial collection of books on natural history, including Charles Wilson's American Ornithology (1808-1814) and the 1840 Philadelphia: Chevalier Audubon Birds of America. In 1911, he gave another 300 books, bringing the entire collection to some 2,700 titles. The Wilson and Audubon titles remain in the collections today; others were lost in an 1897 library fire; and in the 1930s the collection was dispersed to the Libraries' general collections.

The D. H. Talbot Collection consists primarily of photographs dating from the late 1800's to early 1900's. Photographs are organized by location and subject. Photographs were made by Talbot (with the few apparent exceptions noted) and carry his captions -- typically on the recto of the card mount -- which we have transcribed here.

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Talbot's correspondence with the Library concerning his gifts of books - 1890-1911
  • Correspondence and Library memoranda about the collection - 1911-1930
  • Talbot to C.C. Nutting, Professor of Zoology and Curator of the Natural History Museum, The University of Iowa; ALS 27 (January); Talbot to Thomas G. Henderson, Sioux City, ccTMs dated (December 15), 56 pages, describing his breeding and other experiments. - 1903; 1905
  • Series 2: BROADSIDE
  • Box 1:
  • "Live Wild Animals Wanted". Broadside circular mailed by Talbot
    Includes self-addressed stamped return envelope
  • Series 3: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Box 1:
  • California
  • San Francisco, MacDonald & Dowe, Lotta Fountain on Geary [image #16 ]
    Commercially published
  • San Francisco, Lobby of the Palace Hotel [image #18]
  • San Francisco, Pine & Montgomery Streets [image #50]
    Stock Exchange on left side
  • Battle Harbor, Labrador, codfish drying at Battle Harbor Co's Works, August - 1882
  • Battle Harbor, Labrador
  • Small fishing, local and one foreign, vessels after fish, August
    Includes negative
  • Iceberg grounded north of Battle Harbor, exposure made from whale boat. With later negative, August
  • Battle Harbor, view looking north from height near Battle Harbour, church and iceberg in distance [nine copies] (August) - 1882
  • Battle Harbor, three miles from place of observation - 1882
  • Battle Harbor, one of two or three gardens in Labrador, August/September - 1882
    3 copies
  • Battle Harbor, part of iceberg stranded shown in distance, August - 1882
  • Chateau, Labrador
  • The habitation of a woman fishemrman in Labrador. She lives alone about a half mile north of Chateua and is claimed to be quite well to do, having many men working for her and who bring their catch of fish to her in their Smocks. [includes negative] - 1882
  • Temple Tickle near Chateau. On the summit of the elevations sown on the right we found grape and cannister shot, also an old knife and other relics, where tradition gives us the Acadians made a final stand for liberty in this barren country. To the east of this place, some distance also east of Whale Island are to be found many ruins of a rock built stockage, as we were advised, where these pioneers struggled against their oppressors, and likely the few that were left went to the summit of the hill or low mountain here shown. It was a dreary place to cope with a vicious "survival of the fittest" oppressor. [includes negative]
  • Chateau, from the west. Fog, August - 1882
    3 copies
  • Chateau, four of our party with a five-foot long porpoise caught near Chateau, August - 1882
    2 copies
  • Fox Harbor, Labrador, taken from the vessel at anchor - 1882
    5 copies
  • Fox Harbor, Eskimo family and what is claimed to be the best native house in that country. The owner went to Boston and other American ports -- like Peter the Great did to England -- some years ago, to study ship building. He succeeding enough in the art, so that he now owns one of the neatest and most seaworthy vessels I noticed while in Labrador. This vessel it is claimed was modeled and built entirely by himself and a few Eskimo companions. The younger of the women here shown informed me that owing to too much scandal was the cause of her having several husbands. When asked the number she began to count on her finders and while enumerating stated where each one was. In this house was a young man made blind from the effects of the smoke from fires used in the winter during the forced tent life of these people. This was a common ailment with the men; women were not exposed to changes from [inside] to outside and consequently not so affected [...]. Dogs shown here are the native or Eskimo dogs. Some of which are used to carry the mail in [...] and will make one hundred miles in a day. The slay is called a Kometie, August - 1882
    2 copies
  • Fox Harbor, Eskimo family and summer residence, Fox Harbor. In winter they move to the interior and there live in skin tents, August - 1882
    6 copies
  • Box 2:
  • Fox Harbor, Eskimo family and summer residence - 1882
    11 copies
  • Fox Harbor, Eskimo village, upper end of Lewis Sound, August 13 - 1882
    6 copies
  • Fox Harbor, Oldest settler and his relations, August - 1882
    Includes negative
  • Henley Harbor, Labrador. Taken during a fog as most all other exposures were made while in Labrador, August - 1882
    Includes negative
  • Miscellaneous coastal views
  • Gloucester fishing schooner - 1882
    Includes negative
  • Village - 1882
    Includes negative
  • Scene - 1882
    Includes negative
  • Miscellaneous, three men with a fair size salmon - 1882
  • Mexico, Monterey City
  • Mexico - churches
  • Church with mountain in background - 1883
  • Santuario de Guadalupe, No. 3
  • New York, Lockport. Sutherland family of seven sisters, all with very long hair
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Nueces River near where it empties into Corpus Christi bay. About 18 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. A choice place to collect various forms of marine life.
  • On the low sandy plains near the Gulf of Mexico. [...] of Corpus Christi, Texas, are hundred of pools of brackish water and in these pools are to be found many ... of the American Coot as here shown.
  • Nest of Chaparel Cock with bird on nest. This exposure was made near Corpus Christi in Southern Texas, where the Chaparel Cock is very common and being so shy is exceptionally hard to approach.
  • Post office and store on the banks of the Nueces River near Corpus Christie, Texas.
  • A Texas home
  • Residence of P.P. Doddridge Esq. Corpus Christi, Texas. Has a front view of Corpus Christi bay a magnificent view, Summer - 1885
  • Residenc of P.P. Doddridge Esq. Corpus Christi, Texas
  • A Mexican Family near Corpus Christi
  • Laguna de Madre island near the Gulf of Mexico
  • The home of the brown pelicans
  • Young brown pelicans
  • The older brown pelicans some distance from the breeding grounds, though on the same island in Laguna de Madre
  • Southern Texas - 1885
  • Camp
  • Pelican
  • School
  • Sea turtle
  • Southern Texas, School house, Summer - 1885
    2 copies
  • Miscellaneous - Arapahoe Indians
  • Sharp Nose, Arapahoe Chief. Fort Washakie, Wyoming
  • Baby Carriage
  • Kook-oo-wa
  • Catch Bear
  • Miscellaneous - Bird
  • Miscellaneous - Corn
  • Sweet form of top corn - 1904
  • Self-fertilized top corn - 1903
  • Branching form of top corn - 1903
  • Plume form of top corn - 1903
  • Two line drawings, n.d.
  • Miscellaneous - Sheep - 1905
  • Miscellaneous - Texas schools - 1885
  • Texas school children
  • Pioneer Texas school
  • Work shop
    Interior of tent

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Talbot, D. H. (Daniel Hector)

Natural history

Geographic Names:
United States -- Texas
Canada -- Newfoundland and Labrador -- Labrador City

Genre/Form of Materials:
Broadsides (Notices)