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William O. Trevey

Photographer William O. Trevey, born in 1879 in Virginia, left an extensive visual record of the boom years of the New River coalfields. From about 1898 until the late 1920s, Trevey and his father, E. B. Trevey, maintained a successful photography studio in the Fayette County town of Glen Jean.

Trevey operated his studio at a time when the New River coalfields were among the most prosperous in the United States. In his studio, complete with wicker chairs and bear skin rug, he made a photographic record of the variety of lifestyles in the area. His portraits feature hunters, gamblers, workers and loafers, and citizens rich and poor. From barefoot children of miners to coal barons, Trevey and his father preserved the faces of an era.

His images were not limited to studio portraits, for Trevey also traveled the area photographing coal towns, railroad communities, and mines. Trevey left his Glen Jean studio by about 1940, leaving behind hundreds of glass plate negatives in a variety of sizes. The photographic prints made from these negatives offer priceless insights into an era that now lives only in legend.

Written by Melody Bragg


  1. Bragg, Melody. The Reliable Bill Trevey: Glen Jean's Photographer. Goldenseal, (Winter 1988).