English-born photographer George Richard Buffham (1846-1915) took this photograph of then Maj. Ellwood Waller Evans in the late 1890s.
Buffham and his brother J. H. Buffham may have been the Buffham Bros. of the eponymous studio in Baltimore in the 1880s. They are found in Baltimore in the 1880 census listed as “picture dealers.”
George Buffham had moved to Annapolis by 1900, and worked there as a photographer at 48 Maryland Avenue until ca. 1910. Buffham may have been the US Naval Academy photographer around that time, when he took out advertisements seeking a managing partner for his Annapolis studio, and directed interested parties to write him at the academy.
Evans, who graduated from West Point in 1887, was a military instructor at St. Johns College in the late 1890s. He began his career with the 8th Cavalry in Texas, South Dakota, and Montana. When the US went to war with Spain in 1898, Evans was chosen to help lead the 5th Regiment of the Maryland National Guard as the regiment was prepared for active duty, then moved to the 1st Regiment and accompanied them to Cuba, where he served from 1899 to 1902.
After Cuba, Evans served in Missouri, the Phillipines, and Nebraska. Evans then became commander of the First Squadron of the 10th Cavalry, an all-black corps, and led these soldiers with Pershing in the incursion into Mexico (Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young, Brian G. Shellum, University of Nebraska Press, 2010, pp. 248, 330).
By now a colonel, Evans died in Pueblo, Colorado on 24 July 1917. According to Evans’ Baltimore Sun obituary of 27 July 1917, the career soldier was serving as inspector-general of the Colorado National Guard at the time of his death.
The Pueblo Chieftain recorded the elaborate pageantry of his military funeral in its 29 July 1917 issue:
“The funeral procession of Colonel Evans was the most spectacular seen in Pueblo for many years, for while the service itself was simple, the special escort of 800 soldiers, added a touch to the funeral procession which brought home to the hearts of many the seriousness of the present conflict.”
These soldiers, and the officer who accompanied Evans’ body back east, came from Peublo’s Camp Gunter. The camp, likely named for Colorado Gov. Julius Gunter, apparently served as a temporary encampment set up on the Pueblo Colorado fair grounds for the mustering of Colorado National Guard troops at the outbreak of World War I.
The Evans and Waller families had deep roots in Somerset and Worcester counties, Maryland. Evans’ father, George Washington Evans (1841-1896), was born on his father’s farm on Smith Island. Capt. George W. Evans served during the Civil War in Company I of the 1st Eastern Shore Maryland Infantry, and made the Army his career after the war ended (Historical Register of the United States Army, Francis Bernard Heitman, 1890, p. 258).
Ellwood’s great-grandfather, William Waller, served in Capt. James Foster’s Company of the 51st Regiment, Maryland Militia, in the 1812 war with the British, and Ellwood was a member of the Society of the War of 1812 on the basis of this ancestry.
His great-great-grandfather, Col. Peter Chaille of Snow Hill, Worcester County, served in the Revolutionary War with the 1st Battalion of the Worcester County, Maryland Militia. Col. Chaille was also a member of the Maryland Convention and the Maryland Lower House from 1777 to 1780.
George Buffham made frequent journeys back to England throughout the early years of the century, and it is possible that his brother and mother returned there permanently. Buffham and his wife may have also returned to England for good around 1910; a brief item in an Annapolis newspaper mentions an urgent trip back to England to attend his ill mother.
The photograph’s 5″ x 3-1/4″ white mount has a pebbled surface with embossed frame design, serrated edges and beveled, square corners, and is dated ca. 1900 by McCulloch. The image is a simple, vignetted bust portrait, perhaps taken for his wife before he left Annapolis for Cuba in 1898.