It all began with the discovery of a photograph from 1914 of the New York City Waterfront in the Buffalo Bill Collection.
The McCracken Research Library
The photograph captioned, “New York Waterfront taken by H.O.B. 1914” is the center of our mystery. I went directly to the McCracken Research Library for help. My co-worker, Archivist Samantha Harper, is really good at finding the secrets the more obscure pieces in our collection hold.
Sam didn’t recognize the initials H.O.B. We decided to find the photograph in the collection to find out if it would give us any more clues. The waterfront picture turned out to be from a photo album sent from H.O.B. to Uncle Fin. We now knew that Uncle Fin was referring to Finley Albert Goodman in whose collection this photo had been found.
Sam and I began researching Mr. Goodman’s genealogy to discover if he was perhaps related to someone with a surname beginning with the letter B. Here we discovered the Bennetts. The only problem was that we weren’t finding anyone with the first initials of H.O. related to Finley Albert Goodman. It’s time to take another look at the photo album.
We noticed a woman with the surname, Oakes. That got us thinking, what if the initial “O.” wasn’t for the photographer’s middle name but instead represented their maiden name. We narrowed our search to find a woman whose name included both Oakes and Bennett.
Nearly four hours after our search for the illusive H.O.B. began, we discovered Hazel Oakes Bennett. This portrait of the photographer is captioned, “Photo of Hazel Bennett, said to be niece of Buffalo Bill and a friend of Mrs. Winifred Shaffer Given by Roy Shaffer 742 Amore H Thermopolis, Wy 82443”.
I encourage you to spend some time browsing through the Buffalo Bill Center of the West photograph collections. You may be surprised by what you discover! And if you unearth a mystery, the McCracken Research Library will be pleased to help you solve it!
What treasure will you find?