Theodore Wesley Townsend
Iowa City, Iowa
1870's - 1890's
T. W. Townsend, Photographer

      Townsend had a studio in Iowa City, Johnson County in the 1870s through the 1890s. Prominent series:  “Gems of Clear Lake” and “Views of Iowa City and Vicinity.”  Older brother was I. L. Townsend of Iowa Falls.  Studio was on second floor of northeast corner of Washington and Clinton Streets.  May have also had studios in West Liberty 1864-70+ according to Burgess and Muscatine (1891+).
      Leading Events in Johnson County Iowa History, 1913, pp. 907–909, states:  “Timothy Wesley Townsend, having as a heritage the sturdiness of his pioneer parents, Mr. T. W. Townsend not only became a leader in his chosen profession of photography but his entire life was in accordance with the influence and benediction of his early Christian home.  T. W. Townsend was born April 11, 1844, at Frederick Grove, King's County, Ohio.  His parents, James and Susannah (Rogers) Townsend, were both natives of Ohio and were strong abolitionists and deeply in sympathy with the cause of the African slave.  Their Ohio home was one of the stations on what was known as the Underground Railroad over which the escaping negro was conducted on his way to freedom in Canada.  After leaving Ohio and coming to Iowa their pioneer home in that state was one of the stopping places for John Brown and his men.  They were kind and generous hearted people and highly esteemed by all who knew them.  Our subject was twenty years of age when he first engaged in the photographic business at West Liberty, Iowa.  Later he established the Townsend Studios at Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa, which he conducted very successfully for many years.  Mr. Townsend was married January 4, 1866 at Muscatine, Iowa, to Miss Anna Coover, daughter of Isaac and Anna Wilhelmina Coover, both natives of Ohio.  To them were born two sons:  Alva Coover Townsend, born in Iowa City, January 25, 1872, residence in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Charles Fremont Townsend, born in Iowa City, July 1, 1874, residence in Des Moines, Iowa.  Both sons are engaged in the photographic art.  Born of Quaker parentage who were devout members of the Friend's Church, our subject later in life became associated with the M. E. church.”
      Listed in the 1881 Gazetteer.  According to the Directory of Civil War Photographers, there was a Townsend & Bro. in Johnson County in 1865, a Townsend & Kilburn in Muscatine in 1865, and a J. S. Townsend in Johnson County in 1864.
      There are 120 examples of the work of this photographer in the SHSI collection and a caricature of Townsend in his studio published in Our Live Ones.  He was one of Iowa’s most prolific photographers of stereographs.