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Goff, Orlando Scott
b. 1843; d. 1916
Discipline: Photography

Photo of GoffOrlando Scott Goff was born on 10 September, 1843 in Middletown, Middlesex County, Connecticut to Alfred and Adaline L. Giddings Goff1. He was the youngest of five children born to the couple. Alfred was a shoemaker and, it seems from census records, he made a decent living at it. Not much is known about Orlando's early days - where he went to school or where he went to church. In later years, he stated that he was a Presbyterian.

Nine days after his 18 birthday, he enlisted in the Union Army 10th CT Infantry Company K as a Sergeant on 19 Sep 1861 under the name Orlando S. Goff (residing in East Haddam, Middlesex, Connecticut). Was promoted to Full Corporal on 10 Sep 1863. Re-enlisted on 1 Jan 1864. Promoted to Full Sergeant on 1 May 1864 and moved to Company D. Transferred on 14 February 1865 back to Company K and promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. He mustered out of Company K, 10th CT Regulars on 25 August 1865. He is shown as Orlando Goff, Orlando B. Goff and Orlando S. Goff.

He applied for a military pension on May 31 1878 (application #255668, certificate #159051). From the Veteran and Widow's Pensions Census in Burleigh County, Dakota Territory, we find that the reason he applied for a pension is because he had received a gunshot wound to right breast and arm during his Army service (certificate #159 and certificate 051). His wife, Anna E. applied for a widow's pension on 1 December 1916 (application #1087.826, certificate #835409). She was living in Boise, Idaho at the time.

After his stint in the Army, Orlando learned photography in Lyons, New York 2. He worked as an itinerant photographer in Portage, Wisconsin. In 1871, he moved to Yankton, Dakota Territory and established the first photography gallery there. He moved to Bismarck in 1873 where he opened a photography studio. Later that year, he became the post photographer for Fort Abraham Lincoln in Montana where he took a series of photographs of George Armstrong Custer 3 and his officers (including Thomas Custer, two-time Medal of Honor recipient) and even some of the wives. He took the last known photograph of George A. Custer 4. He also took many photographs of Native Americans, including the first photograph of Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce in 1877. In 1878, he left Bismarck and went on a photographic tour of the Plains. This is during the time that he took the famous photographs of the Crow Maiden photograph , Charging Hawk (Osage scout), Long Soldier (Hunkpapa Sioux Chief), and Sitting Bull (1881) as well as photos from the Little Big Horn Battle site.

From the David F. Berry website (, we learn that he had an apprentice named David Frances Berry who was born 6 March 1854 in Rochester, New York. Orlando was his mentor, employer and, later, business partner in Bismarck, Dakota Territory. David F. Barry went on to photograph and become friends with Sitting Bull, his son Louie as well as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and Red Cloud. In addition to David F. Barry, he also trained western photographer Stanley J. Morrow. This was while he was living in Yankton. Some of Stanley J. Morrow's stereoscopic views were donated by his family to the W. H. Over Museum on the University of South Dakota campus5. Orlando retired as a photographer in 1900.

Information was attained from the following web site:, please visit this site to read more on Orlando Scott Goff, and to view photos.


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