What an appropriate motto for the Hostetler Studio and its owner and chief photographer, John Benton Hostetler! His talent never failed to catch the sparkle in a hopeful bride’s eyes, the wisdom in a patriarch’s wrinkled face, or the mischief in a toddler’s grin in over 10,000 glass plate negatives he created during his professional career. Here, without benefit of today’s computer software programs, Hostetler created an amusing and attention grabbing visual to go along with his catchy ad-line. (Unless they really DID toss that baby….)
This advertisement is a rarity among the portraiture that makes up the bulk of the Hostetler collection. The negative was originally labeled “Roger – J. B. and Baby Goddard”. The federal census records in our collection confirm Hostetler had a younger brother, Roger, who is listed in the city directory as employed by the Hostetler Studio in 1908. Baby Goddard is tougher, but if the image was taken in 1910 or 1911, as much of the collection appears to be, this could be little Warren J. Goddard, born in February 1910 to Jay L. and Dorothy (Stelk) Goddard. That just leaves photographer J. B.to round out the picture.
Hostetler began his career with photographer E. W. Shively in Decatur, Illinois. He came to Davenport to work for the Jarvis White Photography Company in 1887, buying them out in 1898 and changing the name to Hostetler Studio. Over the years the studio was located in several different buildings on Brady Street and finally at 212 West Third Street. J. B. Hostetler died in 1925 at age 56. His portraits, school montages, and beautiful historic landscape, park and building images are as vibrant when developed from those glass plate negatives today as they were one hundred years ago. He absolutely “knew how to catch ‘em” and are we ever glad he did!