In 1922, his obituary described him as ‘one of the most prominent photographers of the city.’
Remarkably, a significant set of his photo collection has survived three generations. Through the help of local author, historian and digital newspaper publisher John Wilson, I worked directly with Will H. Stoke's great granddaughter, Connie Cooper Jones. Her grandmother, Helen Stokes, married Ed Forstner, who partnered with Stokes and continued to operate the photography business after Will’s untimely death at age 58.
Will’s father, David Stokes, also rose to prominence as a Chattanooga photographer before his death in 1901. Will honed his skills while working for A. W. Judd, an enterprising and prolific photographer who came to Chattanooga in 1878. Stokes set himself apart by his focus on landscapes and views of the city. Some may be familiar, but it’s unlikely you’ve seen them with as much detail as presented here.
Again we’re reminded that traditional photographic prints contain significantly more resolution than today’s digital versions. There are discoveries yet to be made within many of these wonderful ‘time capsules’.