Arthur J. Stephens, Photographer and Poet

Arthur J. Stephens was born in Juneau, Wisconsin around 1867 to Isham Stephens and Susan H. Rowland Stephens.  In the 1870s, the family moved to Iowa, where Arthur attended college.  In 1890, he settled in Paonia, Colorado and married Lela Minniette Wade later that year.  Stephens operated a photography gallery in Montrose, Colorado in 1891.  He continued business in Paonia, Colorado until 1896, when he moved to Pomona, California.

J. A. Stephens, photographer. Portrait of an unidentified man, 1891. History Colorado, accession number 2014.137.56

Stephens continued to operate photography studios in southern California for his entire life, with studios in Pomona, San Diego, and Los Angeles. He also wrote poetry and published poems in local newspapers. In 1924 he released a collection of poems called The Bells of San Gabriel.  Arthur J. Stephens died in January 1930 and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

The Pageant by A. J. Stephens                                                                               The Glory of Nature beneath a California sun,
And flowers and beauty combined with the strength
Of young,lusty manhood all welded into one,
Made a pageant of wonder many miles in length,
While the blue sky above looked benignly down
On the radiant splendor perched high on youth’s crown.

There were maids that stood for ripened wheat;
Others that swayed like the swell of the ocean;
Some that danced like nymphs on tireless feet;
While hundreds waved garlands in a wave of motion,
Weaving and circling in lines true and long,
All vibrant with life and–six thousand strong.

The far frozen north and the hills of old Spain
With the  East and the West were mated and blended,
Till by magic formation was born a rare strain
Only found in California–may it never be ended.
O this land of romance, of flowers and gold,
Fires the heart with a thrill that never grows old!

Sweet maids of summer, young men and strong!
Your day of real effort is yet to dawn;
Here’s hoping success to your labor and song
While the pageant of life sweeps on and on.

Poem reproduced in the Los Angeles Evening Express, June 8, 1915, page 14, column 6

Thank you to Elena Jones, Digitization Assistant, History Colorado for providing the scan for this post.