Last Photo Taken Hours Before Bryan’s death in Dayton on July 26, 1925
Very few people actually know that the last photograph taken of William Jennings Bryan on the day of his death was taken by Herschel Keith a local Chattanoogan. Mr. Keith was driving Bryan to Dayton from a luncheon date in Chattanooga. It was along the road to Dayton that Mr. Bryan posed for what would be his last photo ever. After Bryan’s death later that afternoon, Keith went and sold the film to E.T. Bales who was associated with the Chattanooga News Free Press. Mr. Keith received a 10 dollar gold piece for the undeveloped film. Upon purchasing the film, Mr. Bales went quickly into the dark room and processed the film. Mr. Bales discovered that he had invested the 10 dollar gold piece wisely because he discovered that he now had an excellent quality photo of William Jennings Bryan taken just hours before his death. Realizing the value of the photo he now had in his possession Mr. Bales copyrighted the photo. He later sold copies of the prints to various newspapers across the county with the St. Louis Star paying $150 for their copy. Mr. Bales stated in an interview years later that he lost the original negative somewhere along the way but he still holds the memory of this day as if it just happened. Bryan had assisted the prosecution of John Thomas Scopes just days before his death on July 26, 1925. He was taken to Arlington National Cemetery where he was laid to rest.
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