Skip to main content

Daniel H. Talbot Papers

Identifier: MsC0404

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

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.


  • Creation: 1882-1904


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

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 2700 titles. The Wilson and Audubon titles remain in the collections today; others were lost in an 1897 fire; and in the 1930s the collection was dispersed to the Libraries' general collections.


1.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Attorney and amateur naturalist. Photographs of Labrador and Texas.

Method of Acquisition

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

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)