Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

​A Tide of Change Sweeps America

                The Sierra Club has participated in a century-long campaign of acceptance for the destruction of Hetch Hetchy Valley for the purposes of a few greedy individuals. These events are taking place at the very beginning of the rise of motion pictures.
         Although John Muir insisted the last book he actually wrote,
The Yosemite , have Pillsbury photos, William Colby, Corporate Secretary of the Sierra Club, attempted to dissuade Muir from using Pillsbury's photos.  Although the Sierra Club was endlessly willing to reissue Muir's books which he had written himself along with those they had written after his death, The Yosemite was not re-issued for a half a century.  When this took place Pillsbury's photos, specifically ordered by Muir, had been removed.    
The images and more of the story

Woodrow Wilson -  Trading the Hetch Hetchy for the Presidency

  When the newly elected President, Woodrow Wilson began his administration in 1913, which had hinged on handing over the Hetch Hetchy Valley to San Francisco, he took with him people who would have the motive to conceal the scheme for Hetch Hetchy and also the control of the wilderness lands which comprised the National Parks, then under the administration of the Department of the Interior, Forestry Department.   
         These connections came through Horace Albright, who was a 1912 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.  Before his death in 1987 Albright wrote a book outlining in some detail what he had witnessed and with which he had participated.  He asked the book not be published until 1999.   

The book,  Creating the National Park Service - The Missing Years , is available online to read. The National Park Service also has it online and originally I linked to their copy.  But as soon as I did this they changed the link so I put it up myself.  If they could make me take the online book down they would.   They can't.  Albright, who had no background in mining, was provided with a job that paid extremely well and which was likely linked to the National Park Service in other ways.  Research continues.  Wiki had dates and positions .

      In 1918, Albright backed off from being directly involved in the theft of the Curry Company in Yosemite.  Mather had recovered from worrying he, Mather, would be exposed for self-dealing through the cover provided first by J. D. Desmond , who was serving as President of Desmond Park Service Company for Mather. 
         Attempting to characterize Mather's break-down as legitimate 'depression' ignores what was really happening.  Mather did not want to go to jail, which is what could have happened if Albright had done what he was legally and ethically obligated to do as an officer of the court and a Federal employee working for Secretary of the Interior, Franklin Lane.  Albright excuses himself by saying he loved Mather. The real explanation is he had been emotionally seduced by the heady lifestyle which he knew he would lose for himself and his wife if he exposed Mather.
        Hoping to distance himself from these ongoing criminal activities Albright asked Mather his job be changed to Superintendent for Yellowstone.  Albright made it clear there was much he did not want to know about what Mather was doing with Mather's self-dealing and drive for control.  
       Albright will be forced to continue the many cover-ups for half a century after Mather died in January 1930.  To do otherwise would have exposed him.   It is important to note Albright inherited stock from Mather which would direct the rest of his career. 

 Mine, Mine, Mine! said, Mather      

Government monopolies of business in the National Parks became the standard on which they were run as the National Park Service took over the management of huge tracts of land before rarely visited by Americans.   The person who orchestrated this was Stephen Mather.  Mather demanded a monopoly on concessions in the National Parks, starting with Yosemite.   Demand for Monopoly

           Let's consider the facts which were not in evidence at the time along with further facts now openly admitted by guilty parties safely dead and so beyond jail time.    ​But the guilty parties, dead or not, are guilty of hideous crimes.  Murder and serious injury to victims are charges which never go away.  The truth is a step we need because what you see happening in those early years parallels what we face today. 

Silencing the Voices of Preservationists

        In 1890, John Muir had become the voice for the wilderness, a new perspective blending with the ideas of Thoreau and Emerson.  His books were widely read, and his voice respected.  This article, which appeared in Camera Craft in August of 1900, provides a sense of how Muir was viewed.  Camera Craft, August 1900  - "The Mountain Heart's Ease" by Olaf Ellison.
           Muir was a Preservationist.  He spoke for keeping land as it was.  The Opposite viewpoint, Conservationist, asserted the correctness of reserving land (and everything else) until it was useful.  This reflects two entirely different ways of looking at our world.  Arthur C. Pillsbury was also a Preservationist.  
            John Muir and Arthur C. Pillsbury met for the first time in 1899 on the Harriman Expedition ship, then moored in Anchorage.
         The photo of Muir aboard the Harriman ship in the article above was taken by Pillsbury as is the photo of the Muir Glacier.  The article refers to "our "camera associates", an indication Olaf is, himself, a photographer.  The credits to Pillsbury are at the lower left of the photos.  I could find nothing else written by Olaf Ellison except references to the then-new application of irrigation for agriculture.  It is possible AC Pillsbury wrote the article using a pseudonym.   Muir and Pillsbury appear to have known each other and discussed their shared values for Preservation from 1899 on.  

Teddy Arrives in Yosemite - 1903

    In 1903, Teddy Roosevelt arrived in Yosemite.  This was also the year William Randolph Hearst asked Pillsbury to come to work for him, both as a photojournalist and to set up his photographic operation for his newspapers. 
            Arthur C. Pillsbury was there to photograph Roosevelt.  By this time Pillsbury had been doing work as a stringer for Underwood and Underwood, who supplied photos for newspapers, books, magazines, and other outlets since his two years in the Yukon 1898 - 1899.  He was also doing photo shoots for postcard companies while producing his own line of this new product as well.  Pillsbury was the largest producer of postcards on the West Coast for 26 years.
       The photos of Roosevelt created one of the original questions which directed my research, as these made me aware of a pattern of individuals claiming 'another (usually unnamed photographer) took whatever photo appeared to be by AC Pillsbury.  The implication always was that Pillsbury was not a professional, or that being a skilled professional did not make him a 'real' artist of photography, or that others were actually taking the photos, which he then sold.  These varied and clearly untruthful assertions came out of the cadre around Pillsbury's janitor, Ansel Adams, who had burned down the Studio in New Village, first removing Pillsbury's enormous collection of individually unique negatives and the films stored there. 
           The evidence of how deep the lies went, was in a lifetime of photos which today would be valued at hundreds of millions.  Of course, this is based on the valuation made for the discovered Norsigian Photos.  There were 65 of these purchased by Ron Norsigian in Fresno at a garage sale.  MORE ON THIS STORY
         These had been far too valuable for the guilty parties to destroy, so Ansel (the janitor) Adams, spent the night carrying boxes and boxes of the negatives next door to the Best Studio, where he was now living with his wife, Virginia, who he would marry in January 1928, after the risky part of the scheme was completed.  MAP NEW VILLAGE

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, daughter of
Dr. Arthur Francis Pillsbury, the youngest son of
Arthur C. Pillsbury 

Melinda Receives a Call

   I came into the story late, as I was not born until after my Grandfather had died in 1946.    Dad, my original source, Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury, died just a few months after telling me what had happened when he went to Yosemite at his father's request in January 1927 to sign the final papers for the sale of the Pillsbury Studio and the concession and for his services as Official Photographer for Yosemite. 
          Dad's Ph.D. was in Civil Engineering from Stanford.  His first job after completing his Ph.D. was designing projects for the Civilian Conservation Corp. in 1933.  Dad was appointed to the first Environmental Protective Agency in 1969 and retired as Director for the Water Resources Department for the University of California.  ​

Arthur F. Pillsbury riding Winkey in front of his tent, Old Village 1916

Virginia Best, Arthur F. Pillsbury and Ellen Boysen, Old Village 1916

The Real Ansel Adams

Arthur F. Pillsbury and Ellen Boysen playing Leapfrog, Old Village 1916

          Virginia Best Adams was someone Dad had trusted.  She was an old childhood friend and his first sweetheart. Dad had been told by the Studio Caretaker, Tommy Thompson that he and another employee had seen Ansel Adams, the janitor, leaving the back door of the studio as they stood quietly talking before beginning the day's work.  Hearing the back door bang, they had simultaneously turned to look.  Seeing Adams, the studio janitor, walking out carrying a box, they returned to their conversation.  A second later, they smelled smoke, crying "Fire!" both ran toward the front door catching sight of Adams, now running toward the trees.  Dad confronted Virginia and her new husband, Ansel Adams, with this.  Virginia pleaded with him, saying Ansel had nothing to gain from burning down the Studio because he was determined to restart his career as a concert pianist.  Until the 1960s, Dad heard nothing about Ansel's work in photography. 
           In 1978, Pillsbury's remaining collection, which his wife, AEtheline sold the day he died, surfaced. Dad had driven up to his father's and AEtheline's home in Berkeley as soon as Dad was called informing him his father had died.  He barely managed to stop the sale of the family clock, which had been passed down, father to son, since before the American Revolution.  Although Dad demanded to know where his father's collection, intended for him, had gone, AEtheline refused to tell him. 
         What AEtheline did not tell him was that a friend of Pillsbury's, William Oliver,  had bought the entire collection, over 5,000 photos, professional papers and more, for $100. William Oliver was not told about the arrangement for Dad to have these materials by AEtheline since she just wanted the money.   Oliver would keep the collection together, intending to find a way to honor Pillsbury's work.  In the interim, Oliver and his wife moved to Springville, Utah.  There, Oliver died in 1977.  His widow donated the collection to Brigham Young University, still unaware Pillsbury had children.   The Collection remains at BYU today at Special Collections in the Lee Library, with a few films refrigerated at UCLA Archives. 
          It appears that around 1977 Virginia and Ansel became aware Dad was feeling some concern about the disappearance of his father's legacy.  Dad told me he was told at this time that on a trip to Yosemite an employee at Best Studio, he had known, told him it seemed to him an intentional campaign was going on to eliminate Arthur C. Pillsbury from the history of Yosemite.  Distressed, Father began to do some research and realized this was the case. 
              In 1978 a person named Steve Harrison , who identified himself as a 'part-time NPS Ranger and author, contacted him by mail, asking for information on Arthur C. Pillsbury. Delighted to find someone who might help him, Dad answered the letter. 
              As it turned out, Harrison had contacted him at the behest of the Adams' to find out if Dad had told anyone about what he had been told by Tommy Thompson about the fire.  It is very possible Albright also wanted to be reassured their criminal actions had not been revealed.  Harrison was to keep the co-conspirators, with others who include Horace Albright, Stephen Mather, and Don Tresidder informed.   Coincidently, the donation of Pillsbury's remaining Collection had involved a gentleman named Rell Francis , who found a box from the collection, including films, which the BYU conservators had neglected to take.    Harrison Correspondence 
        The Adams took steps to acquire the collection while ensuring Dr. Pillsbury did not learn this had been found.  This broke down in November of 1990 when Dad told me what had taken place and asked me to "take care of it."   I knew what Dad meant.  First, get the facts, then take action.  Dad was a strong advocate of making the facts public.   
         In retrospect, given that Hearst sought him out and what I have provided below this is an assertion without merit.   By 1903 Pillsbury had invented the first specimen slicer for the microscope (1895), and designed and built the first circuit panorama camera (1897).  His advancements in technologies have provided us with the needed data to advance in every arena of science.  But his first impulse in this direction was a wildflower, ephemeral, fragile, and determined to survive and put forth new life.  So much, he said later, like ourselves.  

Roosevelt Party at the Mariposa Grove at Grizzly Giant - 1903 - by Arthur C. Pillsbury

This postcard is colorized and was supplied to one of the companies, Mitchell, for whom Pillsbury provided images.  

The positions of the Presidential Party have not changed.  As must be obvious to you, Pillsbury, who would soon be working for Hearst as a photojournalist as well as their technical expert for photography, took this photo.  One idiot member of the "Eliminate Pillsbury" Cabal tried to tell me another photographer was there - but could supply no name.  All of the photos taken of the Presidential Party were, in the absence of real evidence, taken by Pillsbury.  Note the handwriting, which is not Pillsbury's.  We will be referring to this later. ​​
The backs of postcards changed over the years but have been helpful to me in building the timeline. 

        Now let us consider the demonstrated skills which brought Pillsbury to the attention of William Randolph Hearst.   In June 1903 Pillsbury continued his photojournalist coverage of the Roosevelt tour which likely lasted for the entire time Roosevelt was in California.  The photos were also used by Pillsbury in an article that appeared in Camera Craft in 1903 titled, " An All-Round Newspaper Camera".

        Pillsbury left the Hearst papers in March of 1906 to found the Pillsbury Picture Company.  Hearst was sorry to lose him because he then had to pay more for the photos which continued to be the best available from any photojournalist.           This is amply demonstrated by Pillsbury's hundreds of photos taken during the San Francisco Earthquake & Fire, including his Panoramas which were wire-photoed around the world and appears in double truck format across two pages of newspapers, besides any front page.  Pillsbury was a world-renowned photographer and soon was also famous for his nature and science films from his further inventions.  By 1919 Pillsbury had licensed his films to Pathe,  Paramount and Universal for nationwide and worldwide distribution.    

     In 1927, the negatives for these and his photos from the Yukon were stored at the Pillsbury Studio and Nature Center in Yosemite, when Adams removed the collection,   Many of these appear, without attribution, in various places, including in the book published by Arcadia Publishing, which allows local authors to supply attribution.  In this case, the attribution was from the Yosemite Museum.  Why would these have been in the files there?  When I was there doing the research myself I noticed Pillsbury's name appeared to have been removed from multiple photos.  This is a matter now under scrutiny. Even government employees can't be that clumsy intentionally.  However, it may be relevant that Virginia Best Adams made it her special job to go over the photos in the file and make sure as was as it should be.  (snicker) 
        In 1908 Pillsbury outdid all other photojournalists in his coverage of the
Great White Fleet
, Roosevelt's statement of foreign policy.  Pillsbury was allowed to take photos on board as the fleet came up the California coast to San Francisco.  It was the Pillsbury photo of the Fleet entering the Golden Gate which is best remembered.   It is likely this was arranged by request to Roosevelt, who well remembered Pillsbury.  

           Those in power, then and now, have only one motivation and that is to continue their control over our lives.  It is time to end that forever. 

The Theft of Hetch Hetchy is in motion 
Another corrupt conspirator enters the stage