Header - Huntington Photographers


THE CITY OF HUNTINGTON, W. VA., was founded in 1870 as the terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio  Railroad by its name sake, Collis P. Huntington, and it was incorporated the following year. Guyandotte, a sister community founded Antique camera, ca. 1890s in 1799, was located on the eastern side of the new city; it was eventually incorporated into the Huntington in 1911. Huntington quickly expanded as people flocked to the city and opened businesses—including photographers.
     There was a least one photographer active in Guyandotte near the time of Huntington’s incorporation. The Huntington Argus ran advertisements for William W. Wyman in its 1872 issues; he had a studio over the William & Russell Drug Store. His advertisements said, “Just drop in and give him a chance ‘to catch your shadow’.” The next year the newspaper also carried ads for George C. Teaford’s Star Art Gallery, where he said he was “now ready to take Pictures of all sizes and shapes.” Teaford may have been the first actual photographer to open a studio within the new city limits. Unfortunately nothing is known about these two men, other than their ads in the newspapers. Neither men’s name appear in the Cabell County, West Virginia, 1880 Federal Census, suggesting that they were no longer in the city by the end of the decade. Regrettably, only Teaford’s work seems to have survived in a single print in the Marshall University Libraries’ Special Collections department. The department has no example of Wyman’s work.
      Another photographer, George Kirk, opened his studio in 1875. Fortunately examples of his work survived and appear as part of this exhibit. He left the city in 1888 and  he eventually resumed his photographic career in the state of Washington. The Special Collections department also has a number of  prints by a Huntington photographer identified only as “Handley,” whose pictures appears to date from the 1870s, but all attempts to further identify him has proved fruitless.
     During the 1880s additional photographers, sometimes in partnership, opened studios in the city. These men, whose cabinet cards appear as part of this exhibit, were: Alfred T. Proctor, William J. Fenner, Samuel V. Matthews, and Darwin E. Abbott. Most of these men were successful, their businesses continuing into the 1890s, and in some cases decades into the twentieth century. The reader may view their individual biographical sketches that accompany this exhibit to learn of their lives.
     During the 1890Sayre Advertisements a few more men opened  studios. One was Leonidas W. Humphreys, who eventfully partnered with Samuel V. Matthews, whose works appear as part of this exhibit.  Another photographer with surviving of his work in Special Collections was John S. Sayre, who was listed in the 1891-1892 Huntington City Directory with a studio at 1007 Fourth Avenue. However by the end of the middle of the decade he was no longer living in Huntington. The 1895-1896 Huntington City Directory listed photographers Thomas Huff and William L. Raines, both of whom apparently.  Examples of Raines’ work can be found in this exhibit, but there are none of Huff’s work. The work of Thomas Barrette also makes up part of the exhibit, but little is known of his life.
     A photographer also operated the City Gallery—examples of his work appears in the exhibit, but attempts to identify him has proved unsuccessful.
     The 1895-96 city directory also listed Elmer B. Tully as the partner of Alfred T. Proctor. He roomed in the studio at 1048 Third Avenue. Little is know about him. He may have been the son of Samuel and Emma Tully of Charleston, who in the 1880 federal census was listed an Elmer as their seven-year-old son. That would made him about twenty-two in 1895 and he could have been the man hired by Proctor and roomed in the studio. This is, however, speculation. Tully’s name appeared on some of the Proctor Studio cabinet cards in 1890s.
     All these photographers played an important part in recording the development of Huntington and its surroundings, especially its people. Many of their extent cabinet cards, the popular format of the late nineteenth century, are not only historical records, but in many cases actual works of art. Hopefully the viewer will come to appreciate their work anew. And, if any viewer can shed additional light on any of the men listed in the exhibit, or have photographs they took, please contact Special Collections department Marshall University (304-696-2343).

Sources: Huntington (W. Va.) Argus, selected issues from 1872 and 1873; 1880 Cabell County and Kanawha County, West Virginia, Federal Census; 1891-92 and 1995-96 Huntington City Directories. Graphics: The camera clipart: bellowscamera_20118.tif, “Clipart ETC,” Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of Florida; John S. Sayre advertisement from 1891-92 Huntington W.Va. City Directory, p. 108; Wm. Wyman advertisement, Huntington Argus, June 8, 1872.