Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Arthur C. Pillsbury - The Wildflower Man of Yosemite

The Life of Arthur C. Pillsbury

1892 -  Stanford University

1895 -  First trip to Yosemite 

1897 -  Circuit Panorama Camera 

1898 - 1899  -  The Gold Rush  

                 Yukon Panoramas

                 The Yukon

1897 - 1899 -  Alaska's first people

1899 -  Meeting John Muir 

1903 - Tahoe in the Snow - Camera

​1906  -  A Trip Down Market Street  

              April 18 -  San Francisco
                                    Earthquake  and

              The Studio of the Three
              Arrows - in Yosemite

1908 - May 6 -  The Great White Fleet
                enters S.F. Bay

1909 -  The First Nature Movie  

               The Run-Away Balloon  

1910 -  America's First Air Show in
              Dominguez Hills

1911 - June - Reporter Cleve Shaffer
            reports Adolph Sutro and Mr.
            Kierulf are building a plane
            which would be flown at the
            Pacific Exposition in 1915.  A.
            Kneiling and ACP were 
            building an original biplane
            and motor.  (Guess who was
            building the motor.)

1911 - September 3 -  Arthur's
            brother, Dr. Ernest S.
             Pillsbury and his wife are

             November 13 - Arthur legally
             adopts his brother's children.  
              Adoption Papers  

1912 -  The First Lapse-Time
              Camera  - The Wildflowers
              October 14 - 16   -   
              Superintendents Conference, 
              Yosemite - First showing
              Lapse-Time flowers

              John Muir, Sierra Club and
              Preserving Nature

1913 - Photographing Hawaii - 
              Sunset Magazine

1915 -  David Curry and the Movie

              Ascent of Half Dome 

              Pillsbury is providing free
              publicity to the Sierra Club by
             videoing their activities,
             shown during his lectures

1918 -  Mass production real
              Photograph Post Cards  
             The invention is in use at the
             Studio in Old Village. 
             Pillsbury's son, Arthur Francis
             Pillsbury, is the operator.

1919 - Hil Oehlmann recalls Arthur C. Pillsbury
               First aerial photos and movies
              of Yosemite  

1921 -  Color movies of flowers

1922 - Nov. 22 - Mass Production real
              Photo Post Card Machine
              Patent application is

1924 -  Pillsbury's Pictures  - New

             May 24 -  Article in the
            Mariposa Gazette

1926 -  Feb. 23 - Photo Postcard
               Machine - Patent granted.

              March 15 - Lectures to
               President Coolidge .   Willard
               Hotel, Washington D. C. 

               The Microscopic Motion
               Picture Camera

                 A Motion Picture Director
                for Microbes

1929 -   X-Ray Motion Pictures and

1930 -  Underwater Camera and

1932 -  

1942 -  Osmosis in Plants 

Protagonists and Antagonists
Names and faces from history; names and faces of those still living, their stories, long hidden, still to be told in this struggle for the future we are living today caught between freedom and despotism.  One man understood the choice being made, and took action.

    On this page you will find links to the motivations and lives of the characters, events, settings where the action took place, a time line of events, the accomplishments of Arthur C. Pillsbury, and books and other materials which supply the contemprary record of the world as it was.  The numbers below the names, many of which lead to narrative and motivations, indicate the time periods when the individual was involved in the ongoing action.  




Yosemite Valley 1895 - 1927

​      Standing waist-high wildflowers , 1895
      Buys his first studio in Yosemite - 1897
      Muir and Teddy Roosevelt - 1903
      Buys Studio in Yosemite - 1906
      Showing the first nature movie - 1909
      Showing first lapse-time movie of flowers
        blooming to NPS Superintendents .  Ending
        the mowing of meadows in National Parks-
     Filming the Hetch-Hetchy - 1913   
      Leads women students from Stanford up the
        back of Half Dome - 1915   
     Filming Sierra Club for lecture tour - 1915
     Filming Indian Field Days - 1916
     Filming The Legend of the Lost Arrow - 1916
      Filming Sudebaker on Overhanging Rock  
        - 1916
      Designs and uses first mass-
       production postcard machine - 1917
      Filming Aerial photography - 1919

Stanford University
    Buys his first movie camera
      December 12, 1892
    Builds the first motorcycle in California - 1894
    Designs the first circuit Panorama Camera
    - 1897
    Senior Advisor tells him it will not work.
    It works; leaves Stanford - 1897

On to the Yukon
    Ship-wrecked at Dixon's  Entrance - 1898
    Saves  himself and his father.
    Rows 110 miles to secure transport
    Photographs the opening of the mining
    towns , the Inuit, the vastness of Alaska
      Films Alaska's First Nation - 1898 - 1899
      Meets and photographs John Muir during the 
      Harriman Expedition - 1899
    Solitary journey from the headwaters of the
          Yukon to the Pacific filming - 1899

San Francisco
   Susan B. Anthony, a friend of his mother's   
       recommends he visit Yosemite. May 1895
   Story told to a SF journalist with a straight
        face.  The Call 29 January 1899 
   Dr. Ernie's article on Germ Theory is published
    - 1998.
    Sets up the photographic department for
      Hearst - 1903
   Incorporates Pillsbury Picture Company
       - March 1906 
   Research on telegraph transmission of photos
   by Arthur C. Pillsbury - 1093  In process
   Photoraphs the SF Earthquake & Fire ,
       panoramas, film and stills  - April 18 on.
  Purchased the Studio of the Three Arrows in
     Yosemite - 1906
  Photographed the White Fleet steaming into
     San Francisco through the Golden Gate \
        - May 6. 1908.
  Reported dead October 31, 1909 in runaway
  Building an airplane with A. Kneiling, another
         member of the  Pacific Aero Club, with
         photographic platform and ACP were                         building an original biplane and motor
         - June 1911 Locating site used by PAC

Los Angeles - Hollywood 
   Dr. Ernest & family move to Los Angeles - 1900
​     Photographed the first Air Show  Dominguez
     Hills south of Los Angeles from a balloon at
     300 feet.- January 1910

    The Pillsbury home at 132 North Palm Drive
    Neighbor - Frank Baum

      Court Battle over the children and the
      estate begins

     Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury begins his career at
     UCLA. Family Stories  - 1936
     Melinda shows AC's d'Orotones to
     James Dean - 1955, September

     Dr. Arthur F. calls Melinda and says,  
    AC's mother calls.  His brother, Dr. E. S.
      Pillsbury and his wife have been killed
      in an auto accident.  September 3, 1911
Court House  - Alameda County  
        What kindness can cost you .
      November 13 - Arthur legally adopts
      his brother's children.  
              Adoption Papers 

  Washington D. C.
     Shows one of his films to the National Press
       Club - 1915
     Lectures for a select group to President Calvin
      Coolidge at the Willard Hotel - 1926

      In Pago-Pago AC uses his newly invented
     underwater camera to photograph life under
     the sea and the native Samoans.

Stephen Mather
​1912 - 1933

Arthur C. Pillsbury
1892 - 1946

Horace Albright
​1912 - 1989

Dr. Ernest S. Pillsbury
1892 - 1911

Ansel Adams
1916 - 1984

Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury
1904 - 1991

Virginia Best (Adams)
1904 - 2000

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
1951 - Present

Aetheline (Sadie) Banfield
1906 - 1946

Supporting Characters

1892 - 1915

1892 - 1915

Susan B. Anthony
1895 - ​Introduced to her son by Dr. Harriet, she urges AC to see Yosemite as soon as possible.  

Samuel N. Ball
Why would Sylvia's brother file for guardianship of the three orphaned children?

Julius Boysen​​
1897 - Briefly AC's partner in a Yosemite Studio

Washington B. Lewis
​Superintendent for Yosemite 
appointed March 3, 1916
He would do anything for Mather

John Muir
1909 - Turned down the use of motion
​pictures offered by AC save Hetch Hetchy

Mother Curry​​
1906 - She was the pumping heart of Camp Curry

Jesse Banfield
His new brother-in-law
taught him photography.

David Curry​​
1916 - He buys a film from AC for his battle to save the business he family built.

Harry Cassie Best
Harry became a painter just as the world
​turned to photography.

Foster Curry
​Growing up in his family's busines

Mary Curry
​Mary had a problem.  She needed a husband who could take photographs.

Theodore Roosevelt
1903 on, he  was an accidential president
who was expressed concern for nature

William R. Hearst

Ella Wing
She was young, intelligent, beautiful, and dealing with doubts
about any marriage.

Professor Wing

Mildred Clemens​​
She claimed Samuel Clemens as a relation and wanted a career as a lecturer.

Dr. Harriet Foster Pillsbury
She challenged the status quo and made a career of healing minds and understanding.

Dr. Harlin Henry Pillsbury
Dedicated to healing and with an eager thurst for knowledge.

Ellen Boysen
A friend of Grace's and Arthur's

Mrs. Bishop, the Cook
She also loved Yosemite

 Later Supporting Characters​​

1916 - 1927

1916 - 1927​​

1928 - 1946

1948 - 1987​​

1988 - 2019​​

1988 - 2019​​​​

D. J. Desmond
Founded the
Desmond Park Service Company.  Ofr did he?

Don Tresidder
He married Mary Curry
for ambition, not love.

Stephen Harrison
Deceit was his only skill.

Rell G. Francis
Meticulous about the truth..

Alan D. Colman

Marian Replogle
Her Grandfather had a secret.

Ted Orland
An Ansel Adams minion

Marian Schenck
Her father told his story

Rick Norsigian
​A fortune of Secrets in a box