Ada Wills, one of six children of Thomas and Elizabeth Morris Wills, was born on February 18, 1870, in Brown County, Ohio. In 1875 the family moved to Iowa, where Ada Wills married Henry L. Garside on December 24, 1890. Ada Garside became a photographer in 1895 while living in Villisca, Iowa. In 1897 the Garsides moved to Stanberry, Missouri, where she was one of three photographers listed in a business directory. Two years later they moved to Newkirk, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.), and Ada Garside opened a photography studio in the Pardoe Building, opposite the courthouse.
Like her Oklahoma contemporaries Emma Coleman and Annette Ross Hume, Ada Garside found an outlet outside the home by working in photography, an acceptable field of work for women after 1880. As one of the approximately one hundred known women photographers in Oklahoma and Indian territories, she used the latest equipment and apparently had one of the most complete galleries in O.T. Garside chose to use one- and two-line newspaper advertisements stating that she sold photographs for twenty-five cents to twelve dollars per dozen, and that customers could rent or buy a Kodak camera at her establishment. She photographed Newkirk citizens, American Indians, the Chilocco Indian School, local scenes, and a solar eclipse in 1900.
Before her death on March 7, 1950, she was a Sunday school teacher and superintendent and had organized the Sunshine Band in the Christian Church at Newkirk. She and her husband, who died on October 7, 1928, were buried in the Newkirk Cemetery.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Marijane Rupe Boone, Newkirk and Kay County Diamond Jubilee (Newkirk, Okla.: Newkirk and Kay County Diamond Jubilee, Inc., 1968). Karen Dye, Newkirk: Carved in Stone (Stillwater, Okla.: New Forums Press, 1993). Newkirk (Oklahoma) Herald Journal, 9 March 1950.
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