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Rose, Noah Hamilton (1874–1952)

Kendall Curlee Biography Entry

Noah H. Rose, printer, photographer, and collector of photographs of the frontier West, was born seventy-five miles northwest of San Antonio in Kendall County on April 9, 1874, the son of Newton C. and Loutilda (White) Rose. In 1884 his father, a carpenter, moved his family to Menardville (now Menard). Rose was educated in rural schools and in 1888 began working as an apprentice in the office of the Menardville Monitor. His family subsequently moved to Ballinger, where Rose worked on the local paper. In 1891 he returned to work on the Menardville Record. During this period he taught himself to take and develop photographs with a small box camera and printing supplies that he had received as a premium for selling subscriptions to the Youth's Companion, a popular family weekly. In 1892 he left Menardville to work at the Mason Herald. He spent the next thirty years working as an itinerant printer and photographer in Sonora, Menardville, Eagle Pass, Del Rio, and numerous small towns in West, Central, and North Texas. In addition to standard portrait work, he documented events such as the flood at Menardville in June 1899 and the 1902 land rush in Junction. While working in the Eagle Pass-Del Rio area in 1901 Rose began taking pictures of news events and developing them into lantern slides ready for projection the same day. He focused on such violent events as hangings and shoot-outs and interesting frontier figures-gunmen, sheriffs, politicians, judges. Rose began seeking out old photographs and corresponded with Emmett Dalton (see DALTON GANG) and other noted personalities to obtain pictures. From 1904 to 1919 he operated a photography studio in Del Rio and continued to build his collection of frontier photographs. He subsequently worked in central west Texas before settling in San Antonio in 1921. Rose's early years there were inauspicious: he endured a long illness and thereafter suffered a fractured skull when he was hit by a car. Faced by a large debt for medical bills upon his recovery, he decided to focus his business exclusively on photographs of the old West. He made up a list of negatives that he had collected, printed a catalogue, and soon developed a booming mail-order business selling photographs to magazines, collectors, and writers.

According to Rose, pictures of such outlaws as Jesse and Frank James, Billy the Kid, Belle Starr, Jim and Bob Younger, and the Dalton gang were most in demand, followed in popularity by pictures of peace officers, Indians, Texas Rangers, and pioneers. He supplemented his stock by buying the rights to photographs owned by A. A. Brack, owner of Brack's Studio of San Antonio, and eventually collected over 2,000 images. With his childhood friend John Marvin Hunter, Rose published an Album of Gunfighters in 1951. He died in San Antonio following a short illness on January 25, 1952, and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery beside his wife, Lula, who had died three years before. Rose was survived by two stepdaughters, a sister, and a brother. His collection of photographs was sold and is now in the collection of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Examples of his work may also be found in Texas, in the collections of the Museum of the Big Bend, Alpine; the Val Verde County Historical Commission, Del Rio; the Menardville Museum, Menard; the Frontier Times Museum, Bandera; the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio; the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio; and the Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

J. Marvin Hunter, "Noah Rose, A Frontier Photographer," Frontier Times, November 1935. J. Marvin Hunter, "The Passing of a Life-Long Friend," Frontier Times, February 1952. Oran Warder Nolen, "Noah H. Rose, Frontier Cameraman," Old West, Spring 1968. Noah Hamilton Rose, A Catalog of the World Famous N. H. Rose Collection of Old Time Photographs of the Frontier (Houston: Frontier Pix, 1952). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, Vol. 2.


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Visual Arts
  • Photography

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kendall Curlee, “Rose, Noah Hamilton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 31, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.