~posted by Jade D.
While looking through the portraits in our Seattle Historical Photograph Collection online, I came upon a photograph of an older man with wild white hair and a moustache and momentarily wondered what we were doing with a photograph of Mark Twain in our collection. After performing this double take, I looked more closely at the photograph to see that it was in fact a portrait of Seattle Mayor Thomas J. Humes. Humes was first elected to office by the City Council in 1897 to fill the unfulfilled term of William D. Wood, who resigned in favor of seeking his fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush. On March 13, 1900 Humes was re-elected, this time by popular vote.
It turns out that Humes’ likeness to Twain was one noticed by many—including President Theodore Roosevelt. A 1904 Seattle Times article recounts a humorous anecdote regarding Humes’ conversation with Roosevelt during his visit to Seattle in 1903: “It is said that when President Roosevelt was touring the Coast last summer, Mayor Humes made a three-base hit with him. When the chief executive of the nation and the chief executive of the city shook hands, the President looked the mayor over and said: “Why, Mayor Humes, you look like Mark Twain.” “Yes, I understand,” replied the mayor, with a twinkle in his eyes of blue, “that Mr. Twain is touring Europe posing as Tom Humes of Seattle.””
Following the completion of his second term as mayor in 1904, Humes also turned towards Alaska, hoping to make his fortune by prospecting. He died in Fairbanks, Alaska on November 9, 1904, eight months after his retirement.
Interested in seeing more portraits of famous Seattle faces? Take a look at our Seattle Historical Photograph Collection online.