From Walzl’s Imperial Portrait Studio: William Henry Gaither

This cabinet card photograph of a young William Henry Gaither (1881-1920) is another from an album owned by Baltimorean Mrs. Elizabeth Gaither Summers.

Identified as “Will Gaither,” this image was probably taken at one of Richard Walzl’s studios about 1889–the only year Walzl used this combination of addresses on his photographs. The use of rustic props and backgrounds marks the height of 1880s style for studio portraits. Beveled, gilt-edged mounts were just beginning to be introduced.  Will is dressed in a tweed Norfolk suit, a popular style for boys from the 1860s on.

Will Gaither was likely Elizabeth Gaither’s nephew, the son of her brother John W. Gaither. John, a steamboat pilot and lighthouse-keeper, married Miss Marie Horner about 1880, and Will was their first-born of three.

William worked as a stevedore on the docks, but suffered from epileptic seizures. Perhaps epilepsy caused his death at the age of 39.

All photographs from the Elizabeth J. Gaither Summers album were acquired on ebay from jbatro (johnscollectibles@att.net).

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