Header - Huntington Photographers


Click on above images to view exhibit of cabinet cards

SAMUEL VINTON MATTHEWS III was born on March 6, 1860, in Cabell County, West Virginia, to Samuel Vinton Matthews II and Mary Jane Smith. At the beginning of the Civil War his father, an ardent Unionist, moved his family across the Ohio River to Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1861 and enlisted in the Fifth Virginia Infantry (Union). Samuel V. III grew up and was educated in Ohio. When sixteen years old, in 1876, he returned to West Virginia by moving across the Ohio River to the growing city of Huntington to make how own way. He married Laura Ellen McCall on December 9, 1885. They were the parents of three children—Ralph C., Olive, and Mary Alice.
     At some point he learned the photography trade, perhaps from George Kirk. In 1888 he opened a studio on the 944 ½ Third Avenue, which he purchased from Kirk. He became a successful photographer, eventually partnering with Leonidas W. Humphreys.  The 1891-92 Huntington City Directory listed two of his brothers, Edward E. and Charles E., working in his studio, who were still working with him in 1895. After 1892, he parted company with  Humphreys.
   Sometime around 1896 he sold his studio to Frank O. Fowler, who owned a photography studio in Gallipolis, Ohio. Fowler was listed as a manager, suggesting that he did not actually engage in taking photographs himself. Fowler initially retained the Matthews name, but eventually renamed the studio the Mathews' Gallery (with only one “t” in Mathew), as the advertisement at the left shows. He kept the studio open until the end of the decade.
     Samuel was a staunch Republican, like his father, and was very active in local and state politics. He had been a delegate to state conventions, as well as serving the chairman of the city and county Republican committees.  He also served as the Chairman of the Republican Party State Committee from 1908 until 1912.
     For a short after he left his studio, he worked as an insurance agent for the Mutual Life Insurance of New York City.   In May 1897 he took the position of Police Judge for the city of Huntington, serving one term. When his term expired, he took a position with the U. S. Secret Service, where he worked for two years.  He resigned from federal government service and took a position with the West Virginia auditor's office, working in the claims department for four years.
   Under Governor William M. O. Dawson he was appointed the State Baking Commissioner in 1905. He was reappointed in 1907 under a new law providing for a term of four years. Governor William E. Glasscock reappointed him in 1911. He held that position until his death on November 29, 1914, while visiting in Mobile, Alabama. He was only fifty-four years old. He is buried at Spring Hill, Cemetery, Huntington, West Virginia.

Sources: "Huntington," The H. F. V. Headlight (October, 1897): 26; Cabell County WV Heritage: 1809-1996 (Walsworth Publishing Co., 1996), p. 245; Huntington City Directory, 1891-1892 (Huntington, 1892), 84; Huntington City Directory, 1895-1896 (Huntington, 1892), 82; W. S. Laidley, History of Charleston and Kanawha County (Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Pub. Co., 1911), pp. 479-480; George D. Wallace, Cabell County Annuals (Richmond, Va.: Garrett, & Massie, 1935), p. 242; Graphics: Samuel V. Matthews portrait from "Huntington," The H. F. V. Headlight (October, 1897), 26; Mathews Gallery advertisement from the Parthenon, February 1899.