PORTRAIT OF MONTANA SENATOR THOMAS J. WALSH : MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO U.S. HISTORY

The year is 1928. The race is on for the Democratic nomination. This press photo (3/3/28) features U.S. Senator Thomas J. Walsh (1859-1933). At the time of the photo, he was vying for the nomination to represent the Democrats in the 1928 election. Walsh lost the nomination to New York Governor Al Smith. Smith subsequently lost the election to Republican Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. Walsh had sought the nomination as a “dry” candidate. In other words, he was a supporter of Prohibition. He also was noted  as a Senate prosecutor of the oil industry. Walsh was a lawyer politician who represented the state of Montana from 1913 to 1933. He was considered to be a liberal but that did not stop Franklin D. Roosevelt from selecting him to be the United States Attorney General. Unfortunately, Walsh died on a train as he headed to Roosevelt’s inauguration and never served in that role. If you are interested, I would suggest researching the details of the Senator’s demise. Was he murdered? You will find more than one conspiracy theory, and it’s an interesting story. Here are more biographical details about the Senator. During his career he had been a spokesman for President Woodrow Wilson in the Senate. He also was a supporter of Women’s suffrage, farm loans, the League of Nations, and the graduated income tax. During the 1920’s Walsh headed the Senate investigation into the Teapot Dome scandal (involved top officials of the Harding administration). In 1924 and 1932, he was the chairman of the Democratic Convention. Senator Thomas J. Walsh clearly played a major role in the US Senate and had significant impact on the nation. This vintage press photograph measures 5″ x 7″ and is in very good condition (see scans). If you think Senator Walsh appears intense in this photo, you are correct. Bob Brown, a Montana politician, states that there is no known photograph showing Walsh smiling. Brown’s comment appeared in an article he wrote for the Missoulian (1919).

Buy this Vintage Press Photo (includes shipping within the US) #2861

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Buy this Vintage Real Photo Postcard (includes International shipping outside the US) #2860

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“WHAT’S MY LINE?”: OCCUPATIONAL CABINET CARD PORTRAIT OF TWO MEN IN GORMANIA, WEST VIRGINIA

This cabinet card features two men dressed for work and holding some sort of tool or scraper. They appear to be wearing leather work aprons. This is a wonderful example of an occupational cabinet card but unfortunately, it is not clear what these men’s occupation happens to be. It has been suggested that the men may be textile workers. The photographer of this image is John Randolph Schaeffer. He seems to have forgotten that this studio photograph was supposed to depict an outside scene. That is unless it is common to see curtains hanging in the outdoors in Gormania, West Virginia. Schaeffer was born on a Gormania farm in 1858. His family was of German heritage. After finishing school at age twenty, he entered the teaching profession. He pursued his education career for seventeen years; during his last year (1909) he was a principal of a school. During his education career he earned a Masters Degree in Didactics and also did photography. He entered the business of photography after leaving teaching. His studio not only was a  photographic gallery, but it also sold photo supplies, jewelry, and other commodities. He was also appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to the position of postmaster for two terms. In his spare time he supported the Democratic party and was a member of Odd Fellows. He married Susie C. Miller in 1894 and the couple had seven children. The Library of Congress lists Schaeffer as holding at least two copyrights. He also published a view book entitled From Baltimore to Charleston (1906)The book was cited by one reviewer as containing “magnificent scenery” photographs. The town of Gormania has had a number of names. Its present name honors a US Senator from Maryland , Arthur Gorman. One of the towns previous names was Schaefferville, named after early settler Jacob Schaeffer (father of photographer John Schaeffer). Jacob Schaeffer and one of his sons owned and operated the town’s first tannery. The business was sold in 1889. We know a lot about the photographer of this portrait but still don’t have any idea of the occupation of the two subjects in the photograph. Lets play “What’s My Line?”. Hopefully, some cabinet card gallery visitors will leave comments with their hypotheses about the type of work the men in this portrait did. My uninformed guess is that the subjects in this photograph are tannery workers.