Cowboy Photographer: Erwin E Smith
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Community Life-Bonham

Erwin Smith lived in Bonham, Texas, from 1894, when he was eight years old, until his death in 1947. Fifty-five miles northeast of Dallas and the seat of Fannin County, Bonham had a population of approximately 5,000 residents. An intersection point of the Texas and Pacific Railway with the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas line, the community became a major trading area with regular public markets. Rapidly adding amenities, Bonham became one of the first Texas cities to have electric light service. With three colleges and a large opera hall, it was also a major cultural center.

After studying art in Chicago and Boston, Smith returned to Bonham for good in 1911 and helped manage his family's affairs. During the 1910s and 1920s he frequently documented community activities, such as the paving of Main Street in 1912 and 1913. He also followed sports events and photographed the local baseball team, the Bonham Blues. In the fall, he sometimes took his camera to the Texas State Fair in Dallas; on one such trip, he photographed Native Americans playing lacrosse.


Erwin E. Smith (1886–1947)
[Bonham street paving, Main Street from 1st to 3rd Streets], 1912–13
Gelatin dry plate negative
Erwin E. Smith Collection of the Library of Congress on deposit at the Amon Carter Museum
P1986.41.290
 
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Made possible through generosity of Erwin E Smith Foundation
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