1878. Sixth Plate Frank Grouard Tintype Photograph 2 3/8 x 3 1/2 inches.
Tintype has clipped corners as typical. No bends but has light scratches to surface with some loss of emulsion along edges. No markings on verso. Image is slightly underexposed. Good detail especially under a loupe.
Rare and perhaps lone surviving 6th plate studio tintype image of Sioux captive and Army scout Frank Grouard (1850-1905). Few Indian Wars personalities led the life Frank Grouard did. Born into a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint missionary family in the Tuamotu Archipelago in 1850, Grouard's father was of European descent, his mother Polynesian. His mother returned to the South Pacific in 1853 with his two brothers and Frank was adopted 2 years later by the Pratt family of Beaver, Utah. He left home at the age of 15, heading north to Montana where he became an express rider and stage driver.
As legend has it, in 1869 Grouard was robbed on his mail route in rural Montana leaving him without his horse. He was discovered by Sioux Indians and either held captive or assimilated into the tribe--perhaps accepted due to his dark skin. Sitting Bull called Grouard his brother. Grouard would learn their language and later married a Sioux. He left or escaped the tribe after 6 or 7 years and in 1876 became General George Crook's chief scout. Grouard's intimate knowledge of the Sioux and their language made him Crook's most trusted scout.
In this capacity Grouard was present at the Battle of the Rosebud, Battle of Slim Butte and Wounded Knee. Grouard alerted General Crook of 'smoke signals' from the Battle of Little Bighorn but could not convince Crook that the smoke was significant. Grouard then rode the 70 miles discovering the massacre which had taken place.
This studio tintype shows Grouard lounging on a bent-wood chair festooned with stripped trousers, a corsage in his right lapel, a pinky ring, and smoking a cigar. Written on tintype is WY T 1878 which likely refers to Wyoming Territory. Grouard was involved chasing 2 Wyoming horse rustlers near Yellowstone Park in 1878.
A biography, "The Life And Adventures Of Frank Grouard: Chief Of Scouts, U.S.A." by Joe DeBarthe was published in 1894.
We've been unable to find another image matching this one, even though at least 5 identical tins would have been produced from one full plate. The photo arrived to us framed with a full modern description taped to the back of the frame. The likeness appears to match those known of Grouard. Bob McCubbin had two printed photos of Grouard in his fabulous collection, but not this one. . Item #872