Orlando Scott Goff - Western Photographer

Orlando Scott Goff Biography

As researched by Gwen Goff Hobbs, Charles R. McCain & Judy Goff Cook

Orlando Scott Goff
Havre, Montana
Montana Historical Society Archives
Donated by the Billings Gazette, April 1960
Courtesy of Charles R. McCain.

Orlando Scott Goff was born on 10 September, 1843 in Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut to Alfred and Adaline L. Giddings Goff1. He was the youngest of five children born to the couple. Alfred was a shoemaker and, it seems from census records, he made a decent living at it. Not much is known about Orlando's early days - where he went to school or where he went to church. In later years, he stated that he was a Presbyterian.

Nine days after his 18 birthday, he enlisted in the Union Army 10th CT Infantry Company K as a Sergeant on 19 Sep 1861 under the name Orlando S. Goff (residing in East Haddam, Middlesex, Connecticut). Was promoted to Full Corporal on 10 Sep 1863. Re-enlisted on 1 Jan 1864. Promoted to Full Sergeant on 1 May 1864 and moved to Company D. Transferred on 14 February 1865 back to Company K and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. He mustered out of Company K, 10th CT Regulars on 25 August 1865. He is shown as Orlando Goff, Orlando B. Goff and Orlando S. Goff.

He applied for a military pension on May 31 1878 (application #255668, certificate #159051). From the Veteran and Widow's Pensions Census in Burleigh County, Dakota Territory, we find that the reason he applied for a pension is because he had received a gunshot wound to right breast and arm during his Army service (certificate #159 and certificate 051). His wife, Anna E. applied for a widow's pension on 1 December 1916 (application #1087.826, certificate #835409). She was living in Boise, Idaho at the time.

After his stint in the Army, Orlando learned photography in Lyons, New York 2. He worked as an itinerant photographer in Portage, Wisconsin. In 1871, he moved to Yankton, Dakota Territory and established the first photography gallery there. He moved to Bismarck in 1873 where he opened a photography studio. Later that year, he became the post photographer for Fort Abraham Lincoln in Montana where he took a series of photographs of George Armstrong Custer 3 and his officers (including Thomas Custer, two-time Medal of Honor recipient) and even some of the wives. He took the last known photograph of George A. Custer 4. He also took many photographs of Native Americans, including the first photograph of Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce in 1877. In 1878, he left Bismarck and went on a photographic tour of the Plains. This is during the time that he took the famous photographs of the Crow Maiden photograph , Charging Hawk (Osage scout), Long Soldier (Hunkpapa Sioux Chief), and Sitting Bull (1881) as well as photos from the Little Big Horn Battle site.

From the David F. Berry website (http://photoswest.org/exhib/barry/barry.htm), we learn that he had an apprentice named David Frances Berry who was born 6 March 1854 in Rochester, New York. Orlando was his mentor, employer and, later, business partner in Bismarck, Dakota Territory. David F. Barry went on to photograph and become friends with Sitting Bull, his son Louie as well as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and Red Cloud. In addition to David F. Barry, he also trained western photographer Stanley J. Morrow. This was while he was living in Yankton. Some of Stanley J. Morrow's stereoscopic views were donated by his family to the W. H. Over Museum on the University of South Dakota campus5. Orlando retired as a photographer in 1900.

In 1875 6 7, he married Anna "Annie" E. Eaton 8 who was born in New York They had one daughter, Bessie, who married Victor E. Oldson of Virginia and later Butte, Montana which is where they probably met. He ran as a Republican and was elected to the Montana House of Representatives, representing the county Chocteau County in 1907 9 10 . Shortly before 1910, he and Annie moved, along with Bessie and her husband to Boise, Idaho 11 where he died on 17 October 1916 in Boise, Idaho. Before 1930, his wife, Annie, moved with her daughter and son-in-law to Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, California 12. Annie died in Modoc County, California on 14 February 1933 13.

Bessie and Victor were the parents of three little girls, Cecile Annie Oldson 14 15 16 (23 May 1909 - 2 Jun 1982 17); Marian B. Oldson 18 19 (abt 1911 - ) and Victoria Virginia Oldson 20 21 (15 Mar 1919 - 23 Nov 1983 22). Bessie and Victor died in Modoc County, California with Victor dying there on 25 June 1946 23 and Bessie dying on 13 December 1965 24.

Orlando Scott Goff is my 6th cousin four times removed with our common ancestor being Philip and Rebekah Goffe of Wethersfield and Rocky Hill, Connecticut. (Gwen Goff Hobbs)

1907 Montana House of Representatives - Helena, Montana
Montana Historical Society Archives (MHSA)
Photocopy courtesy of MHSA and Charles R. McCain
Red arrow indicates O. S. Goff

Orlando Scott Goff Official Portrait
Montana House of Representatives 1907
Montana Historical Society Archives
Courtesy of Charles R. McCain

The Idaho Statesman
Boise ID, 18 Oct 1916, P. 5
Courtesy of Charles R. McCain

Newspaper Excerpts about O. S. Goff and His Family

Bismarck Daily Tribune, 28 Jul 1875

"Messrs. Goff and Ford have folded their photography gallery and returned to Fort Lincoln, having done a large amount of work at Bismarck, giving entire satisfaction. Mr. Goff goes to his old home in the wooden nutmeg state on a brief visit of a few days."

Bismarck Semi Weekly Tribune, Friday, 25 May 1877

"O. F. Goff, photographer, Fort A. Lincoln, has opened a gallery in Bismarck. Mr. Goff is a first class artist and will surely give satisfaction to all who patronize him."

Bismarck Semi Weekly Tribune, Tuesday, 30 May 1877

"The Singing Club will meet on Thursday and Saturday evenings of this week. Mrs. Goff, who is now in the city, would be pleased to meet all who were members of the club last winter, and others who are interested in singing, with a view to organizing for another course of lessons, which will be given if sufficient encouragement is met with. Mrs. Goff is an efficient teacher and cannot fail to give satisfaction."

Bismarck Daily Tribune, 5 Sep 1883, pg 13

" An Elegant Art Gallery

With the completion of the Dakota block, Bismarck will be supplied with the finest photographic art gallery west of St. Paul. Mr. O. S. Goff is having the second floor of this block especially arranged for his business, and is sparing neither pains nor money to accomplish the purpose. This entire floor will be devoted to a photographic gallery. Large and elegantly furnished reception rooms, an art gallery for the entertainment of the customers, and two large operating rooms, together with a dark room, printing room, closet, etc., are being arranged under the personal supervision of Mr. Goff, who has years of experience in the business. Mr. Goff informed a Tribune reporter that he had sent for some handsome backgrounds and accessories, and that his new gallery would certainly be the finest and most complete in the west. It is hardly necessary to call the attention of the public to Mr. Goff's work, which is considered by critics to compare favorably with the finest work done east. Mr. G. deserves ____ for the enterprise and energy he has ____ in giving to the capital city the most complete and finished art gallery to be found west of St. Paul. The new gallery will be ready for the public about the first of October, next. "

Bismarck Daily Tribune, 4 May 1886, pg 2

"A letter from Sycamore, Ill., states that Mr. O. S. Goff, who has been seriously ill at that place for over seven months is now convalescent, and will start for Bismarck in a few days. The people of Bismarck will be pleased to learn of Mr. Goff's improvement in health and will welcome him home with wishes for his complete and permanent recovery.

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Thursday, 15 March 1888, pg 3

"O. S. Goff of this city was up in the vicinity of Keough and Custer last summer during the trouble with the Crow Indians and while there took occasion to photograph some of the leading chiefs in groups. No collections of Indian views would be complete without these views.

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Sunday, 7 Oct 1888

"Mrs. O. S. Goff returned from her trip to Helena and the National park on last evening's train. Mr. Goff will return to Custer where he will remain for a couple of months. "

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Saturday, 29 Dec 1888

"O. S. Goff, the pioneer and veteran photographer, has returned from Custer, Mont., where he has been plying his art during the past summer. Mr. Goff has many warm friends on the Missouri slope who are pleased to know that his health has been restored and that he is as vigorous and handsome as ever. He will remain during the winter."

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Thursday, 18 Mar 1915, pg two

"Photo Collection

"Curator Fish of the state historical society has been pleased recently to receive several valued additions to his collection of photos of old timers and of historic places of the Dakotas.

"W. A. Petzodt, a missionary stationed at Lodge Grass, Mont., sent four views of the old Berthold village, including the store, blockhouse, and a part of the village.

"J. A. Emmons, formerly of this city, but now of Pawnee City, Okla., sent nine views of old scenes around Bismarck and familiar faces of men prominent in this country in 1873, and thereabout appear in the pictures.

"O. S. Goff, formerly a photographer in this city, but now of Boise, Idaho, sent some views of Fort Lincoln, taken by himself, and a number of picutres of old Indians familiar here in the early day."

Bismarck Daily Tribune, 12 Jun 1909, pg 7


State of North Dakota, County of Burleigh

In District Court, Sixth Judicial District

Clarence B. Little, plaintiff, vs. Charles E. Emily, administrator of the estate of S. Jane Dennison, formerly Wetherall, deceased, Orlando S. Goff, Charles A. Goff, Mr. Dennison, the husband of S. Jane Dennison and all other persons unknown, claiming any estate or interest in, or lien or incumbrance upon the property described in the complaint, defendants.

(Action brought to quiet the title to 4 lots in the city of Bismarck. )

Some of O. S. Goff's Photographs

The caption under this photo of Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce is from the Wind River Historical Center web site says that three photographers have been credited with taking this photo but it was most likely taken by Orlando S. Goff. The original photo is part of the Courtesy National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (Neg. # 43201-A).

Akicita Hanska, "Long Soldier,"
Hunkpapa Chief of the Standing Rock Agency wears a beaver top hat in vogue during the Civil War.
He signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868.

Crow Maiden
O. S. Goff, photographer

Sitting Bull
This photo was taken in Bismarck in 1881 when Sitting Bull left Canada and surrendered at Ft. Buford. On the steamboat trip to the Standing Rock Reservation, they stopped for the night in Bismarck and Orlando saw a chance to get the first photograph taken of the famous Sioux Chieftain and was able to persuade Sitting Bull to have his photo taken for which Orlando paid him $50.00.

Orlando S. Goff took this photo of George Armstrong Custer and Miss Agnes Bates at Abraham Lincoln in the summer of 1875. They were posing in a form of entertainment in those days known as tableaux. In these tableaux, George is portraying a Sioux Indian Chief and Agnes is portraying his daughter.
(Photo is from an original cabinet card and is shown on the GeorgeCuster.com website.)

George Armstrong Custer with his Officers & Their Families
Photograph by Orlando Scott Goff
Taken at Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory

Back Row: Mrs. T. McDougall, Capt. Thomas McDougall, Lt. William Badger,
Charles W. Thompson, Col. J. S. Poland, Lt. Thomas W. Custer, Capt. William Thompson
Middle Row: Lt. George D. Wallace, Lt. Col. George A. Custer, Mrs. Elizabeth Bacon Custer,
Mrs. G. Yates (seated), Emma Margaret "Maggie" Custer Calhoun, Lt. Charles Varnum, Mrs. M. Moylan, Lt. James C. Calhoun, L. Donald McIntosh
Front Row: Lt. Nelson Bronson, Lt. Benjamin Hodgson, Capt. George Yates, Lt. Col. William Carlin,
Mrs. D. McIntosh, Capt. Miles Moylan (seated)

1. He filled out a short little biography for the Montana House of Representatives. In that document, he says that his mother's name is Caroline Giddings so I'm unsure because all census records always have her name as Adaline.
2. Maltz, Carl; Biographies of Western Photographers, (Carl Maltz Publishing Company, 1977)
3. Gary Hobbs' (husband of Gwen Goff Hobbs, researcher) first cousin four times removed through his grandmother, Lena Custer Coats.
4. Mary Helm, Dakota Datebook, (DPR)
5. South Dakota State Historical Society website American Indian Photographs Collections Page
6. Montana Census, 1900 Valley County, ED 140, Glasgow Precinct, p 5b & Idaho Census, 1910 Ada Co, Boise, ED 14, 14 Precinct, pg 2b
7. Montana House of Representative Biography, Montana Historical Society (Charles R. McCain, researcher) 8. In the California Death Index, Bessie Goff Oldson death record states that Annie's maiden name was Eaton.
9. Montana State Historical Society Archives - Charles R. McCain contacted them on behalf of our Goff Family research. Katie Curey, Photograph Archives Assistant, was able to locate this information along with two photographs of O. S. Goff and two more photographs depicting the Legislators of Montana in 1907.
10. Maltz, Carl; Biographies of Western Photographers, (Carl Maltz Publishing Company, 1977)
11. MyFamily.com Idaho Death Index, Ancestry.com database
12. California Census, 1930 San Luis Obispo Co, ED 40-6, Atascadero, pg 21b
13. California Death Index, LDS Records, Salt Lake City, UT (Judy Goff Cook, researcher)
14. Idaho Federal Census, 1910, Ada County, ED 14, 14th Precinct, page 2b
15. Idaho Federal Census, 1920, Ada County, ED 17, 14th Precinct, page 3b

16. California Census, 1930 San Luis Obispo Co, ED 40-6, Atascadero, pg 21b

17. California Death Index (Her surname is listed as Dennis in this record.)
18. Idaho Federal Census, 1920, Ada County, ED 17, 14th Precinct, page 3b
19. California Census, 1930 San Luis Obispo Co, ED 40-6, Atascadero, pg 21b
20. Idaho Federal Census, 1920, Ada County, ED 17, 14th Precinct, page 3b
21. California Census, 1930 San Luis Obispo Co, ED 40-6, Atascadero, pg 21b
22. California Death Index (Her surname is listed as Rhyne in this record.)
23. Ibid
24. Ibid

If anyone has additional information about Orlando Scott Goff, his wife or his descendants,
I would love to hear from you. Gwen Goff Hobbs

Goff and Hobbs Connections

Goffe - Goff - Gough

Goff Biographies & Pictures

Page designed by Gwen Hobbs

Recently, a Bob Stone contacted me and let me know that he was looking for descendants of Orlando in order to share some correspondence between Orlando and his great-grand aunt. He was also able to give me the names of O. S. Goff's daughters' husbands and some of his grandchildren's name. I know he would love to correspond with other members of this family and I would be glad to act as a go-between.

Last Modified 5 Nov 2004