The Siloam Springs Museum is fortunate to have a wealth of photos, even from the earliest years of the town’s existence. We started this blog not long ago, specifically to showcase those photos in our archives which spend little time on exhibit. On some of the photos we have posted to this blog, you may have noticed white writing in the bottom of the frame which included the word, “Suttle.” Rather than being a misspelling of the word, “subtle,” this is in fact an artist signing his work and/or property. Suttle was the last name of two photographers who worked in the Siloam Springs area during the early 20th century, Jacob Henry Suttle and James Edwin Suttle. This week’s issue of Found in the Archives features a photo of one of the Suttle photographers and members of his family, donated to the museum in 1986.
On the back of the above photograph, the younger man is referred to as “Henry,” while the person in the middle of the photograph is called “Laura.” Henry and Laura Suttle were the son and daughter of James Edwin Suttle. Other sources show that James Edwin Suttle was likely Jacob Henry’s son. The older gentleman in the photograph is identified as “Grandpa Suttle,” likely meaning that he is Jacob Henry Suttle. Thus, from left to right, the subjects of the photo are Jacob Henry Suttle, Laura Suttle, and Henry Suttle.
Many of the photos in the museum’s possession from the first two decades of the twentieth century were taken by the Suttle photographers. Suttle photos of Siloam Springs seemingly first appeared in a 1903 Arkansas atlas, indicating that one or both of them began their Siloam studio around this time. During their time in Siloam, the Suttles would also occasionally partner with other photographers, including Pegues and Rice. Their names occasionally appear on Suttle work. The following photographs are examples of some of the Suttles’ work in Siloam Springs.
One or both of the Suttles also had a studio in Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Some of the photos from this studio were also donated to the Siloam Springs Museum. They depict downtown Prairie Grove as it looked around the first decade of the 20th century.
Without J. H. and J. E. Suttle’s photos of historic Siloam Springs, local historians would find it more difficult to envision downtown Siloam in the early 1900’s. Their work represented a large percentage of the photos taken of Siloam around this time. As the blog continues, watch for Suttle’s name on the photos in the future!
Written by Chuck McClary
Research by Don Warden
Siloam Springs Museum Archives