Cody Bryant Culpepper

Male, #5911, (2 Nov 1888 - 18 Feb 1973)
Father*Elbert Bartow Culpepper (17 Jan 1861 - 8 Apr 1934)
Mother*Martha Etta Enox (30 Dec 1863 - 1 Dec 1945)
Birth*2 Nov 1888 Cody was born at Coffeeville, Upshur Co., Texas, on 2 Nov 1888.1,2 
1900 Census1 Jun 1900 Cody, Thomas and David was listed as a son in Elbert Bartow Culpepper's household on the 1900 Census at Gregg Co., Texas.3 
1910 Census*15 Apr 1910 Cody was listed as a lodger on the 1910 Census at Gregg Co., Texas.4 
Marriage*25 Dec 1910 He married Maude F. Cabbiness at Texas on 25 Dec 1910 at age 22. 
WWI Draft Reg*5 Jun 1917 He registered for the WW-I draft on 5 Jun 1917 at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas.2 
Photographed*say 1920 He was photographed say 1920 at Gregg Co., Texas,
Left to right: David Bartow Culpepper, Leta Belle Culpepper, Cody Bryant Culpepper, and Thomas Jefferson Culpepper.5
Children of Elbert Bartow Culpepper
1920 Census*1 Jan 1920 Cody was listed as the head of a family on the 1920 Census at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas.6 
Photographed1922 He appeared as a son in a family photograph in 1922 at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas,
Back, left to right: Emma Katherine Clark Culpepper, Thomas Elbert Culpepper, Thomas Jefferson Culpepper, David Bartow Culpepper, John Ernest Melton, Leta Belle Culpepper Melton, John Melton, Maud F. Cabbiness Culpepper, and Cody Bryant Culpepper.
Front, left to right: Katherine Inez Culpepper, Martha Blanche Culpepper, Elbert Bartow Culpepper, Martha Etta Enox Culpepper, Nelwyn Melton, Hazel Culpepper, and Florine Culpepper.5
Elbert Bartow Culpepper family
1930 Census*1 Apr 1930 Cody was listed as the head of a family on the 1930 Census at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas.7 
Death of Father8 Apr 1934 His father Elbert Bartow Culpepper died on 8 Apr 1934 at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas.8 
Death of Mother1 Dec 1945 His mother Martha Etta Enox died on 1 Dec 1945 at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas.9 
Photographed2 Nov 1948 He was photographed on 2 Nov 1948 at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas, at age 60
60th birth day.5
Cody Bryant Culpepper 60th birth day
Cody B. & Maude (Cabbaniss) Culpepper
SSN*1966 His Social Security Number was issued in 1966 in Texas.1 
Photographedsay 1970 He was photographed say 1970 at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas,
Cody Bryant Culpepper was the "official" photographer for Longview, TX.5
Cody Bryant Culpepper
Death*18 Feb 1973 He died at Longview, Gregg Co., Texas, on 18 Feb 1973 at age 84
     Funeral services for Cody Bryant Culpepper, 84, of 409 N. High Street, Longview, will be held at 2 PM Tuesday at Welch Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. L.L. Thomas and the Rev. Bill Rawlins officiating. Burial will follow in Grace Hill Cemetery.
     Mr. Culpepper died Sunday in a local nursing home. He was a retired photographer and lifetime resident of Longview.
     Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Maude Culpepper of Longview; two daughters, Mrs. R.S. (Hazel) Christie of Longview and Mrs. Forrest G. (Florine) Prutzman of Sugarland; one sister, Mrs. Lela Melton of McLean, Va; two grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.1,10,11 
Burial*20 Feb 1973 His body was interred on 20 Feb 1973 at Grace Hill Cemetery, Longview, Gregg Co., Texas.12,10 
Biography* From the Longview Morning Journal
July 7, 1968

These were his instructions, "Shoot anything you can get out on the front porch."

Were these orders for a Bonnie and Clyde Robbery or a gangland massacre? No, they were only instructions to traveling photographer Cody B. Culpepper from his boss to photograph as many people as he could lure out on their front porches. That way someone was sure to buy his picture.

From 1915 to 1931, Culpepper was the only photographer in Longview except for the fly-by-night traveling photographers. He was Longview's photographer and Longview's historian. Culpepper took pictures of buildings that have long since disappeared from the Longview scene. He recorded Longview's history when it was nothing but a little town straining for its existence in impossibly muddy streets.

He took so many pictures he stopped counting them long ago. They were pictures of a way of life that resembled frontier living, a way of life now seen in historic photos such as Culpepper's.

And he took pictures of young husbands and brides and families and babies. He was Longview's baby photographer, and your baby hadn't really had his picture taken unless Culpepper took it.

And the babies grew up and came back years later for Culpepper to photograph their babies. And those babies eventually brought back babies of their own for Culpepper to pose before his camera. He has been the photographer for generations of Longview families.

The man who for years was unofficially recognized as Longview's official photographer, began his careen in 1907 as an $8 a week traveling photographer in Southwest Texas.

"In 1906 I was taking a bookkeeping course in Tyler, and I transferred to Dallas in 1907 to do a little more studying and get a job as a bookkeeper," Culpepper said. "While I was working there, I saw an ad in the paper one day that called for a nice-looking young man who was free to travel and work around the Texas area," he reminisced. "You know I was sort of stuck on myself in those days, and so I answered the ad for a good looking young man."

Culpepper's job was to be a door-to-door traveling photographer with a "caller." Although he didn't know one thing about photography, he took "learn quick" lessons and was soon adept enough to begin calling on houses in Southwest Texas. He also figured he would learn through experience.

Culpepper explained the caller's job. "The caller was a man who preceded the photographer into a neighborhood. He would knock on each door and yell out to the occupants, "We're gonna be takin' pictures of this house in a little while. If ya'll would like to get out on the front porch, we'll take your picture too.."

Culpepper continued, "Later I would develop all the pictures I took, and we would take them back around to the houses to see if the people liked them and would buy." He smiled, "It was a pretty good business, and that's where I learned my photography."

In 1908, he quit his house-to-house photography job and returned to his home near Spring Hill to raise a cotton crop.

Culpepper was born November 2, 1888, in Cypress Bottom close to Ore City. His family later moved to Spring Hill where he was reared on a farm and attended the Spring Hill and Judson schools.

He said, "When I was a small boy, I had seen traveling photographers and the pictures they took. I had a dream one night about washing the pictures in a quick-running stream. Now that was a peculiar dream, because I never knew that photographs had to be washed before they could be made into pictures."

Culpepper credits this childhood dream to have perhaps been a sign that photography would be his life's work.

After clearing money on his 1908 cotton crop, he went to Big Sandy, rented a tent and took pictures for six weeks. He commented, "I cleared $90 in six weeks, and that was pretty good."

He came to Longview in 1909 and bought out the old Otho Dickerson photographic studio the day before his twenty-first birthday. The studio was in a tent on unpaved and muddy Methvin Street. Young Culpepper stayed about one year at that location and then moved his studio to where the Hurwitz Man's Shop is presently located. Culpepper stayed there until 1914, when his studio was burned out. He re-located his business on a site which the Longview National Bank now occupies.

"In 1920, I sold out to a fellow named Mims and went to Vernon, Texas to work. I stayed there for six weeks and came back to Longview. Then I went to Sweetwater and worked 15 months. After that I came back to Longview and bought my studio back from Mims. I bought it back for $100 more than he paid me for it," Culpepper said.

Culpepper was home to stay, and he kept the same studio location for 25 years. In 1948, he moved the studio into his home on North High Street and kept it in operation there until 1960.

"In 1960, Maud, my wife, got sick. I just didn't have time to run the studio and take care of her, too, so I closed up," Culpepper explained.

He said, "She hasn't been in good health since she broke her wrist in 1959." Culpepper said his wife of 58 years is presently in the Holiday Lodge Nursing Home. "She hasn't been able to come home for three years now. at first she spent a long time in the hospital and then moved to the nursing home." He said, "The doctors say she has some sort of sickness where her white blood cell count is abnormally low. I visit her everyday at the Holiday Lodge."

"I've been here all by myself for three years, I do all the cooking myself and most of the housekeeping. But once a week I have a maid come in and sweep out the sand," he said and laughed.

He will be 80 years old on his next birthday. "I try to keep myself in pretty good shape," Culpepper said. "I used to walk about two miles every day, but I don't do that any more. I still walk to the post office every day for my mail, and I still mow my yard." He said the doctor told him to mow for 20 minutes and rest for 20 minutes, but Culpepper complained, "I can't do it that way. When I mow the yard I have to do it all at one time and get the job done."

He said, "You know I must be healthy, because I've never been in the hospital a day in my life except to visit other people." He said his days aren't usually too busy and that is schedule is nearly the same every day.

Why did he choose photography as his career? Culpepper explained with a laugh, "Well, I could do two things - take pictures and plow. And I didn't have a place to plow."

This information was found in the vertical files of the Genealogy Dept. of the Longview Library.12

Research note*24 Jan 2012 From: Victoria Wilson
Date: January 24, 2012
To: Warren Culpepper
Subject: Preservation Longview


My name is Victoria Wilson with the non-profit, Preservation Longview in Longview, Tx.

I have located a 1st edition book with Cody Culpepper's photos in it and am having it reproduced and also put on a disc.

I understand there is a nephew that might live here that perhaps gave the Culpepper negatives to the museum.
I have spoken with Neina Kennedy at the museum...they have boxes of negatives waiting to be digitized.

Do you live in Texas? Is thereCulpepper relative here?
We would like to celebrate this "Longview photographer" and perhaps have renderings done from the photos.

You may check out our website:

This is an extraordinary project and because of Mr. Culpepper's photo of the Judge Campbell house, our restoration will be original.

Look forward to hearing from you



Maude F. Cabbiness (17 Jul 1891 - 9 Jan 1974)
Marriage*25 Dec 1910 He married Maude F. Cabbiness at Texas on 25 Dec 1910 at age 22. 
ChartsBenjamin (son of Joseph) Culpepper of Edgecombe Co., NC: Descendant Chart
Last Edited25 Jan 2012


  1. U.S. Social Security Administration, compiler, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Online database at
  2. National Archives and Records Administration, compiler, World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Online database at, 2005.
    Cody Bryant Culpepper, Longview, TX, age 28, born 2 Nov 1888 in Diona, Texas, Phoographer for self at Longview, Texas, Wife and 2 children are dependent, Married, Caucasian, Medium height, Slender build, Blue eyes, Borwn hair, Bald, No disabilities. Registered 5 Jun 1917 at Gregg Co., Texas.
  3. 1900 Federal Census, United States.
    ED 33, Sheet 3A, Pg 59A, Pct 2, Gregg Co., TX (5 Jun 1900)
    Elbert Culpepper, Head, Wh, M, Jun 1861, 39, md-15 yrs, AL SC SC, Farmer
    Etter Culpepper, Wife, Wh, F, Dec 1863, 36, md-15 yrs, ch 4/4, TX KY SC
    Cody Culpepper, Son, Wh, F, Oct 1888, 11, S, TX AL TX
    Thomas Culpepper, Son, Wh, M, Oct 1890, 9, S, TX AL TX, Farm Laborer
    Letta Culpepper, Daughter, Wh, F, Oct 1892, 7, S, TX AL TX
    Bartow Culpepper, Son, Wh, M, Mar 1895, 5, S, TX AL TX, Farm Laborer.
  4. 1910 Federal Census, United States.
    ED 4 , Sheet 5A, Pg 137A, Pct 1, Img 9, Longview, Gregg Co., TX
    Roomer of Nellie Sample
    Constine? Culpepper, Boarder, M, 24, S, TX TX TX, Photographer.
  5. E-mail written 2005 - 2013 to Lew Griffin from ID: 41492 Eileen Vela (Mrs. Octavio Vela), New Mexico, e-mail address.
  6. 1920 Federal Census, United States.
    ED 3, Sheet 9B, Pg 147, Pct 1, Longview, Gregg Co., TX
    Own=Y, Farm=N
    Codie Culpepper, Head, M, 31, M, TX TX TX, Driver-Car
    Maud Culpepper, Wife, F, 28, M, TX TX TX
    Hazel Culpepper, Dau, F, 7, S, TX TX TX
    Florine Culpepper, Dau, F, 4, S, TX TX TX.
  7. 1930 Federal Census, United States.
    ED 2, Sheet 4A, Pg 128, 307 N. High St., Longview, Gregg Co., TX
    Own-Y, Radio=N, Farm=N, Military=N
    Cody Culpepper, Head, M, 41, M, md@22, TX AL TX, Photographer, Own Shop
    Maud Culpepper, Wife, F, 38, M, md@19, TX TX TX, Saleslady-Dry Goods
    Hazel Culpepper, Dau, F, 17, S, TX TX TX
    Florine Culpepper, Dau, F, 14, S, TX TX TX.
  8. Texas Department of Health, compiler, Texas Death Index, 1903-2000, Online database at, 2006.
    Elbert B. Culpepper, Gregg Co., Apr 8 1934, 17906.
  9. Texas Department of Health, compiler, Texas Death Index, 1903-2000, Online database at, 2006.
    Martha Etta Culpepper, died 1 Dec 1945 in Gregg Co., TX.
  10. Tombstone.
    Grace Hill Cemetery, Gregg Co., TX
    Cody B. Culpepper, 2 Nov 1888 – 18 Feb 1973
    Maud F. Culpepper, 17 Jul 1891 – 9 Jan 1974.
  11. Texas Department of Health, compiler, Texas Death Index, 1903-2000, Online database at, 2006.
    Cody B Culpepper, Male, Single, died 18 Feb 1973 in Gregg Co., TX.
  12. Longview News-Journal, Longview, TX.
    19 Feb 1973.
  13. E-mail written Jan 2012 to Warren L. Culpepper from Victoria Wilson, Longview, TX, Phone 903 235-9087, e-mail address.