William Henry Badeau was the second of four children born to Isaac Jr. and Elizabeth Hart Badeau in 1827 (or 1828) in New York, where his French Huguenot ancestors had settled more than a century earlier. His family relocated to Fishkill, Dutchess County in 1846, but young William's considerable ambitions extended beyond the genteel countryside of northern New York State. He accepted a position with a New York City dry goods business owned by G. S. Ely. Mr. Ely was related to Richard March Hoe, inventor of the 'lightning' printing press that could impressively print up to 25,000 images per hour. Mr. Ely provided his new employee with a nice Brooklyn home, and it was during this time Mr. Badeau became quite skilled in both printing and photographic processes. He had long been an avid painter and sketch artist, and so his interest in photography was a natural artistic progression.
After working for Mr. Ely for seven years, Mr. Badeau made the fateful decision to work for famed New York photographer Edward Anthony, who had recently started his own highly successful publishing and manufacturing company. Located at 591 Broadway, E. Anthony & Company was the premier importer and wholesaler of the latest photographic equipment and supplies. Mr. Badeau rose quickly through the ranks, but the Civil War represented a temporary detour on his career fast lane. He was a member of New York City's 22nd Regiment, and in 1862 served as a diplomatic liaison for the United States Government in Europe. His diplomatic prowess was later applied to the private sector when Edward Anthony partnered with his brother Henry, and the newly renamed E. & H. T. Anthony & Co. enjoyed even greater international success. Mr. Badeau became the face of the rapidly expanding business's European offices. His corporate travels took him throughout North America, the West Indies, China, and the South Pacific. He also became a frequent foreign correspondent for the firm's most successful photographic publication, Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, using the pen name "Viator".
Mr. Badeau's invaluable contributions led to a much-deserved partnership in the firm. He was also responsible for E. & H. T. Anthony winning the coveted Medal of Progress at the 1873 Vienna Exhibition, the only time the company ever won such a prestigious award for its cameras and photographic supplies. After more than a decade with the company, the constant worldwide travel was taking a toll on Mr. Badeau. He announced his retirement in 1875, and was replaced by Colonel Vincent. M. Wilcox. Returning home to Fishkill, he spent his later years pursuing other business interests, which included serving as Vice President of the Glidden (Iowa) National Bank. William H. Badeau died in 1911 at the age of 83. After his death, it was discovered that the lifelong bachelor's thrifty lifestyle belied a fortune in excess of $1 million. The surprising financial windfall was awarded to his closest living relatives, younger siblings Joseph and Matilda.
1901 Our Paper, Vol. XVII (Concord, MA: Massachusetts Reformatory), p. 830.
1899 Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. XXX (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), pp. 42-45.
1900 Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. XXXI (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 106.
1982 Anthony, the Man, the Company, the Cameras (Cherry Valley, AR: Pine Ridge Publishing Co.), p. 81.
1911 The New York Times (New York: The New York Times Company), p. 16.
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