Editor’s Note: As theYellowstone Park Foundation prepares for the grand opening of the restored Old Faithful Haynes Photo Shop this summer, we will be featuring articles covering various aspects of this historic treasure.
Renowned YNP collectors recall the Haynes family, and how they came to know them through memorabilia
If you gathered all of the memorabilia from the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 through today – the trinkets, postcards, artwork, brochures, antiques, photos, etc. – they would tell a story of this remarkable place, and how people have experienced it over time. The trouble is, most national park memorabilia ends up scattered in the hands of various enthusiasts or relinquished to landfills.
Collector Susan Delin Davis purchased her first box of 50 Haynes-produced postcards of Yellowstone from a little antique shop in Fromberg, Montana, 46 years ago. She grew up in Bozeman, and the Park was a special place for her and her family. When she married Jack Davis in 1978, he adopted her passion for collecting Yellowstone memorabilia, and the two spent years acquiring, organizing, researching and upgrading the most complete privately-held collection of Park memorabilia known. Approximately 25 percent of their collection is related to the legendary Haynes family.
Perhaps even more remarkable is how the Davises acquired each piece in their collection. They owned and operated a building maintenance company in Bozeman from 1982 through 2002. (They also operated the only antique postcard and paper shop between Minneapolis and Spokane from 1990 to 2005.) When they learned about the estate sale of Isabel Haynes, wife of the late Jack Ellis Haynes, in Bozeman in 1993, they took on extra maintenance jobs and saved for months in advance.
The Davises scored big at that exhausting and exhilarating auction, and Jack Davis says, “It was THE single most important Yellowstone-related auction in history.”
What do you do when you amass such a collection?
Ron Lerner, former board member of the Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF), headed the funding effort to purchase the Davis Collection.The Davises worked with the Foundation to donate portions of the collection.YPF presented the Davis Collection to Yellowstone National Park in 2001 and it now resides in the Yellowstone Heritage & Research Center.
With the re-opening of the Haynes Photo Shop at Old Faithful, YPF took the opportunity to meet with the Davises to talk about the Haynes family.
Q & A:
YPF: What do you hope others come to appreciate about the Haynes family after visiting the Haynes Photo Shop?
JD: The Haynes family – Frank Jay, son Jack and Jack’s wife, Isabel – were the single most influential family to impact Yellowstone. The materials they produced, which include photographs, guidebooks, postcards and souvenirs, shaped the perception of YNP throughout the world. Also, the Golden Age of Postcards, from 1898 to 1915, had a similar impact on society as the Internet does today. It’s estimated that the Haynes family published more than 55 million Yellowstone Park postcards from 1900 to 1966. There have been more postcards published of YNP than of any other single location in the world, and the Haynes family dominated that market.
SD: Jack Haynes was called “Mr. Postcard.”
YPF: Besides wanting to share your collection with other YNP enthusiasts, what prompted you to sell and donate your collection to the Park?
JD: We had so much stuff in our house that by 2000 it had become unmanageable.
SD: Our boys said that it was like living in a museum.
JD: Frank Jay was a pioneer photographer who died in 1921. His work was done under hard, demanding conditions. It was logistically very difficult to do what he did. Jack took over the business in 1916 and he and Isabel were geniuses at merchandising. Isabel was a driving force in the business.
SD: Isabel was an employee who met Jack in the Park. She was the head housekeeper at Roosevelt in the 1920s.
JD: We feel like we know Isabel better than we know Frank Jay or Jack. We bought Isabel’s handwritten ledger from 1947 when she was in charge of checking out linens to Park employees. One guy in the ledger apparently didn’t check his stuff back in at the end of the season, and she wrote THIEF next to his name in big red letters.
SD: Jack and Isabel moved to Bozeman in 1942 so that Lida, their only daughter, could go to school. Lida died in a car wreck at age 21 in 1952. She was learning photography when she died and was in line to take over the family business.
YPF: How did the death of Lida seem to affect the Haynes family?
JD: Their business efforts slowed down after their daughter died. It really changed their lives, although financially they were very successful.
SD: We learned that Isabel made a shrine to her daughter at their warehouse.
YPF is fundraising for the $4 million needed for construction, exhibits and operations of the historic Haynes Photo Shop. If you are interested in making a donation, please contact Nina Jaeger at 406.586.6303, or firstname.lastname@example.org.