Header - Huntington Photographers


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LEONIDAS WALTER HUMPREYS was born on April 11, 1868, at Gap Mills, Monroe County, West Virginia. He was the son of Andrew Jackson Humphreys and Eliza Ann Eads. He was one of four children; his siblings were William J. Humphreys , Rose I. Humphreys, and Mary E. Humphreys.
     At some point he must have relocated at Pomeroy, Ohio, because that was listed as his residence when he attended Washington and Lee University with his brother William in 1887 and graduated with a bachelors degree in 1891.
    Upon leaving college, he went into photography in Huntington, West Virginia, probably as a partner with Samuel V. Matthews. Their studio and gallery were located at 948 and 944 ˝ Third Avenue. He resided at a boarding house on Sixth Avenue, between Seventh and Eighth Streets. In 1892 he bought out Matthews and later dropped his partner’s name, continuing his business as L. W. Humphreys Photography at the 948 address until 1896.
     However, photography was not to be his chosen career. In 1898 he entered the medical school at the University of Virginia. His skills as a photographer may have assisted with the cost of his medical studies. In 1904 Paul B. Barringer published a history of the university, which included many fine photographs of the campus and its buildings. In his introduction, he noted that the photographs “were taken by L. W. Humphreys....His labor was begun only for the purpose of making private collection, but his artistic selection of view-points and mechanical excellence of his work created a demand that has sent them to every part of the world” (Barrington, p. 5). Some of the photographs that he took on the campus even appeared in national publications. The February 1900 issue of McClure Magazine featured one of his phonographs of a mounted mammoth taken at the university’s Museum of Natural History.
     He graduated with his M.D. in 1901. He served an internship at John Hopkins Hospital for a year. He then worked briefly in Frankfurt, Kentucky, but soon secured as a position at the Huntington State Hospital in 1903. He opened his private practice in 1904 at Huntington.
     On February 18, 1912, he married Musa F. Kiger of Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
    He eventually specialized in urology, becoming the city’s first physician with that specialty. He later purchased a 48-acre farm just outside the city on the James River Turnpike. After a long and successful medical career he died at his home of a heart attack on April 12, 1942, at the age of 79. He was buried in the Humphreys’ family plot at Gap Mills, West Virginia.

Sources: Huntington City Director 1891-1892 (Huntington, 1892), pp. 56, 84; McClure Magazine 14 (Feb 1900): 349; Paul Brandon Barrington, University of Virginia, 2 vols. (New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1904), 1:5. Washing and Lee University Catalog, 1886-1887, 1890-1891; “Dr. Humphreys Dies of Heart Seizure at 74,” Herald-Dispatch (Huntington, W.Va.), April 13, 1942; and “Dr. Humphreys’ Rites Tomorrow,” Huntington (W.Va.) Advertiser, April 13, 1942. Graphics: Portrait from his obituary, Herald-Dispatch, April 23, 1942; advertisement from Ceredo Advance, Jan, 18, 1893.