Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Timothy Wesley Townsend

Photographer: Townsend
West Liberty, Iowa
(on the reverse in ink: Maud Gales)

There seems to be at least three photographers named Townsend that might have done this cabinet card. The most probable is T. W. Townsend of Iowa City, IA. Iowa City is only about fifteen miles from West Liberty, IA. Photographers of the day were known to travel to nearby towns to find additional business.

Also the three were related: T. W. Townsend and his two sons Alva C Townsend and Charles F Townsend. To make it even more complicated, T. W. Townsend’s father James Townsend, who was living in Muscatine, IA, just a few miles east, was also a photographer.

According to the historical volume “Leading Events in Johnson County Iowa History, 1913 “, Timothy Wesley Townsend “was 20 years of age when he first engaged in the photographic business at West Liberty, Iowa. “ This would work out to be 1864.

The newspaper account at the far right, dated 24 Apr 1904, about C. F. Townsend, says that his father (T. W. Townsend) was located in Iowa City for 30 years. That would mean he was in Iowa City, IA, since 1874. The US Census places him there in 1870.

Timothy Wesley Townsend
(11 Apr 1844 - 01 Jul 1912)

1844 Apr 11
born in Frederick Grove, Kings County, Ohio
establishes first studio in West Liberty, IA
marriage to Sarah Emeline Coover in Muscatine, IA
1870 Aug 21
US census - as photo artist in Iowa City, IA

son Alva Cooper Townsend born in Iowa City, IA
son Charles Fremont Townsend born in Iowa City, IA
newspaper item - establishes studio in Iowa City, IA
1880 Jun 05
US census - as photographer, Iowa City, IA
1900 Jun 04
US census - as photographer, Iowa City, IA
Iowa State census in Iowa City, IA
1910 Apr 23
US census - as photographer, Des Moines, IA
1912 Jul 01
dies at age 68 (location unknown)

T. W. Townsend is the only one of the three that can be documented as being in West Liberty, IA. His son Alva moved to Lincoln, NE, about 1894. His son Charles moved to California and returned to Muscatine, IA, and then to Des Moines, IA, in 1904.

So, in reality, any one of the other three, his father James, or either of his two sons, Alva or Charles, could have hopped the few miles over to West Liberty, IA, for a day or a week and accomplished a series of photographs.

There is a short biography of Timothy W Townsend at Pioneer Photographers (The page is mis-titled but the biography is correct.)

Also, see the Wiki page on Townsend

The cabinet card here could have been done any time from about 1840 to 1910 by any one of the Townsends. In all likelihood however, considering the scalloped edges and the clarity of the photograph, it was probably done by T. W. Townsend, around 1890.

Des Moines Register - 24 Apr 1904

West Liberty Iowa

photographer: Townsend
226 S Liberty st, Lincoln, Nebraska
example from pinterest, no source shown

The example at the left was likely done by Alva Townsend after his move to Lincoln, NE, in 1894.

Blind stamp imprint indicates a date closer to 1900.

Portrait purported to be of the photographers Townsend

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.

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