Friday, December 25, 2015

Charles Elliott Gill

Charles Elliott Gill was one of the countless amateur photographers who emerged in the 1880s with the advent of more simplified cameras and manufactured glass plate negatives. No longer forced to drag their darkrooms and dangerous chemicals around with them, photographers could easily capture places and events in their own communities that had never been photographed before. Gill spent years documenting life in the upper Ozarks with his 1906 Seroco extended view camera.

Gill was born July 8, 1869 to Joseph and Martha Gill. The Gill family settled at the head of the Meramec River in Dent County where they raised wheat and cattle. When Gill was 18 years old, he received his first camera but did not actively document life in the Ozarks until he was in his forties. Prior to that time, he broke the monotony of farm life by traveling, and made frequent trips to both coasts. En route, he supported himself with whatever jobs the local economies could provide. He made his last trip west in 1947 at the age of 78.

Despite his love of travel, Gill always returned home to Dent County and farm life. He married Myrtle Hayes in 1917. The couple had a son, Edward Addison Gill, in 1918, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1921. Gill never remarried.

When not attending to the farm, Gill filled his life with reading, writing, and photography. For more than 30 years, Gill used the same camera. His photographs document his travels and illuminate how the Ozarks were affected by the passage of time. Charles Elliott Gill finally sold the family farm in 1943 and moved to Salem, Missouri. He died on July 15, 1962 at the age of 93.

A group of school children pose at the corner of a wood frame building holding songbooks. Their teacher, also holding a book, poses as if conducting the singing, December 17, 1908
Antioch School and community picture, 1915-1916
 Antioch School class picture, 1900-10
Antioch School class picture, 1900-20
 Apple picking in the Ozarks

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