Sunday, June 14, 2020

Stephen L Masten


Photographer: Masten
Weir City, Kas
example from LOST GALLERY

Photographer: Masten
Weir City, Kas.
example from LOST GALLERY

Stephen L Masten
(1839 - 1922)

1839 Dec 06
Indiana, Stephen L Masten is born
1895 Jun 15
Pittsburg (KS) Daily Headlight item about location in Pittsburg, KS
1894 Feb 06
Weir City (KS) Citizen ad places Masten Gallery in Weir City, KS
Feb 21 Galena (KS) Post notice of real estate transfer to Masten in Weir, KS
US census Weir, KS, and Cherokee, KS, line by line search does not find a Masten OR a photographer
1902 Oct 29
Galena (KS) Evening Times news item S L Masten of Weir, KS, on jury duty
Weir, KS, Kansas State gazetteer, S L Masten as photographer
1904 Jun 21
Pittsburg (KS) Daily Headlight, Weir, KS, city news item S L Masten leaving Weir for Cherokee, KS, about five miles

1905 Mar 01
Weir, KS, state census, line by line search does not find S L Masten; R L Thrope is listed as photographer
1905 Aug 01
Cherokee, KS, Civil War pension for service record
1906 Mar 15
Girard (KS) Press item real estate transfer to S L Masten in Cherokee, KS
1908 Nov 03
Pittsburg (KS) Daily Headlight item Masten has opened a photograph gallery in Weir, KS; item also mentions that he was also recently located in Joplin (MO) and Parsons (KS)
1909 Dec 29
Galena (KS) Evening News item notice to pick up mail in Galena, KS
1910 Sep 09
(Ottawa KS) Evening News item places S L Masten in Coffeeville, KS
1911 Aug 17
St Mary’s (KS) Star item places S L Masten residence in Topeka, KS
1912 Sep 09
Topeka (KS) Daily Capital item horse race list places Masten residence as Topeka, KS
Topeka, KS, City directory NO listing for Masten

Photographer: Masten
Weir City, Kansas

1913 Aug 14
St Mary’s (KS) Star item places S L Masten residence as Topeka, KS
1919 Mar 01
Cherokee, KS, Kansas Census, S L Masten as resident, no occupation shown
1922 Feb 25
Cherokee, KS, Stephen L Masten dies at age 82; (obituaries say 85)

Very little biographical information has been found.

Pittsburg (KS) Daily Headlight - 15 Jun 1895
(News item about Weir, KS)

Pittsburg (KS) Daily Headlight - 03 Nov 1908
(News item about Weir, KS)

Weir is a very small town in the south east corner of Kansas and it was even smaller in 1904. Although the Gazetteer says it has a population of 3,600, there are only about 150 names listed,living in the city.

Two of them are photographers. R. L. Thorpe is also listed in that city.

Masten appears to have worked in Weir, KS, during two periods: 1896 - 1904 and around 1908. These cabinet cards were likely finished during one of those periods. The two cards with the single ruled line were probably from the earlier period and the card with the orange printing is probably later.

In later years, after 1909, the name S L Masten appears occasionally in association with trotter-style horse races.

No mention of Masten was found in any paper after 1913.

To the right is an obituary that tells much about the life of S L Masten.

This was found and added here in June 2018. The timeline above has been updated to reflect the information in this article.

The Cherokee (KS) Sentinel - 03 Mar 1922

photographer: Masten
example from slices of time

photographer: Masten
Weir City, KS
example from pinterest

photographer: Masten
Weir City, KS
example from Worthpoint

Weir City Citizen -
06 Feb 1894

Galena (KS) Evening Times -
29 Oct 1902

Pittsburg (KS) Daily Headlight
21 Jun 1904

20200612 update
Another obituary finally (Note the name is misspelled) found, which adds a bit more information.
Apparently S L Masten was the last of his family. He never married. A cousin, Mrs J B Hammaker, mentioned as the last surviving relative, cared for him until his death.

According to this obituary, Masten opened a studio in Weir, KS, in about 1892 and closed it in 1907.

Masten seems to have retired from photography around 1907. In later years, after 1909, the name S L Masten appears in newspaper items occasionally, in association with trotter-style horse races.

Pittsburg (KS) Sun -
26 Feb 1922

Pittsburg (KS) Sun -
28 Feb 1922

Not the one you were looking for? Here's the photographer's INDEX by name. Listed here are all the Cabinet Card photographers of the 19th century found in LOST GALLERY. This is a work in progress. For a look at the original postings go to LOST GALLERY.

Some examples on this page have been enhanced or restored for clarity and presentation here.

This page is free for educational and research purposes only but, as always, if the original owner of any of these examples objects to the use on this page, they will be immediately removed.


  1. I have some photos that are stamped with S.L. Masten in Weir City, KN Art Studio. What years would he have done that? I don't see any with "R.L Maston" imprint at the bottom in your examples. I know it was taken in 1900s but not sure when in 1900s. I'd also be willing to donate add the image to the examples you have.

    1. Thanks very much for your comment.

      I was able to find very little information on S L Masten of Weir, KS. The short timeline on the page is pretty sketchy. From the information I did find, it appears the Masten moved around a lot. So pinpointing a date that Masten was actually in Weir, KS, is going to be largely guesswork. He does SEEM to be more established in Weir between 1902 and 1904. In 1906 he has bought property in Cherokee, KS.

      Galena, Pittsburg and Cherokee and many other small towns in southeastern Kansas, were all connected by a passenger rail line. Weir is only five miles from Cherokee. So Masten could have been in any of them at any time. Making a living with photography in just one small town in Kansas would have been difficult. A photographer’s “Gallery” or “Studio” was often just an empty room on the second floor over a hardware or grocery, rented by the month or week. Sometimes it was just a tent in an empty lot.

      As you can see there are four different imprint designs in the six examples I found. The cards with a continuous border around the edge were probably pre-printed in large batches by a print shop or a photographic supply company. The cards with a simple logo at the bottom and no border might have been individually printed as needed.

      I’ll look at his history again today and see if I can find anything new.

      Additional examples are always welcome. Scans or photographs should include the edges, no cropping. If photographing the example, avoid glare and shadows. Email to the address shown in the profile.


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