Alfred Shea Addis
Died: September 10, 1886, Chihuahua,
Born in Philadelphia, Alfred Shea Addis migrated to Lawrence,
Kansas in 1850. He worked as a photographer’s assistant for
Thomas Short, quickly learning the art of photography and
gradually securing his own clients under Short's guidance. Addis
later married Short's daughter, Sarah. The Addis’s had two
children, Yda Hillis Addis (born 1857) and Judge Addis (born
1862). The families were Confederate sympathizers. When the
situation in Lawrence became too violent, the Addis’s and the
Short’s moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where they lived near the
protection of the fort.
Addis started his own photography
business. He advertised "Photographs, Ambrotypes, Melainotypes.
Photographs framed in Superior style. Pins and Lockets filled in
best style. Call and give me a trial." At night he managed the
Union Theater which he later purchased. As the potential for
civil war heated up, the abolitionists increased their
stronghold in Leavenworth and violence broke out there when
Missouri seceded from the Union in November 1862, prompting
Brigadier General James G. Blunt to proclaim martial law. In
August 1863 the pro-slavery bushwhacker William Quantrill led a
massacre of pro-Union citizens at Lawrence. Addis gave a benefit
performance at the Union Theater, with the proceeds to go to the
Lawrence victims. In January 1864, abolitionists burned down the
Union Theater. The Short’s and the Addis’s, along with their
slaves, fled to northern Mexico.
The Addises and Shorts first went to Chihuahua, where they found
other Confederate sympathizers. Addis took photographs of the
Mexican landscapes and the indigenous people and sold his cartes
de visit to art dealers in New York. When he scouted for
wilderness landscapes and exotic vistas to photograph, he often
took along his daughter Yda to translate the Indian and Spanish
languages to English. Addis moved his family further south into
Mexico, looking for new views of native people and the country.
By mule train the family migrated to Mazatlan and Hermosillo.
After the Civil War ended, Addis took his family aboard the
sailing ship The Orizaba for California.
the Addises and the Shorts lived in a house located on Bunker
Hill in Los Angeles. His children attended school in the small
Los Angeles School House. The women kept house and took in
When Addis heard of veins of gold and silver in
New Mexico and Nevada, he left Los Angeles for the mines,
photographing Indian tribes and buying real estate along the
way. When he moved to Tucson, Arizona, he became the territorial
marshal. His son, then a young man, joined his father in Tucson.
A thief who robbed Addis fled to Mexico but was tracked to,
Chihuahua, Mexico by Addis and his son. Addis was shot by the
thief and died the following day.