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,
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.
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.
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.