Photographer To Oildom


By the beginning of the last decade of the century Mather’s business had begun to decline. Then in 1892, a great flood, followed by a fire, hit Titusville, causing a large loss of life and heavy property damage. Water ran more than five feet deep in Mather’s studio and ruined over 16,000 glass negatives; it was a financial disaster for Mather, an irreplaceable loss for history.

In his last years Mather worked very little. His wife became something of an invalid, his daughter married and moved to Philadelphia, and he himself seemed to lose all interest in his trade. Besides, Titusville had been invaded by young, aggressive photographers. On August 2 3, 1015, Mather died, nearly penniless, almost forgotten. The Drake Well Memorial Association purchased his negatives for $100, and when the Drake Well Memorial Park was established just outside Titusville in 1934, they were moved there. Not far away, in a small, rural, unkempt graveyard, rests the man who captured for all time the beginnings of one of the world’s great industries.