Some of the earliest images depicting West Virginia's scenic areas, the people and their lifestyles were created by artist and illustrator David Hunter Strother, whose pen name was Porte Crayon.
The artist will be featured during a History Alive program presented by Don Teter of Monterville. It is scheduled at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at Blackwater Falls State Park.
Strother was one of the most accomplished and diverse men of the new state of West Virginia in the mid to late 1800s. Born in Martinsburg, which was then part of Virginia, he trained as an artist in Europe and gained fame as a writer and illustrator for national magazines.
Strother illustrated several early travel stories including The Blackwater Chronicle, which shared the exploits of an 1851 expedition of sportsmen into the Canaan Valley. From Charles Town, he reported and illustrated John Brown's capture, trial and execution for Harpers Weekly in 1859.
During the Civil War, Strother served as a Union officer and topographer who saw action in several major battles. He was one of the founders of the West Virginia Historical Society and was a speaker at the first commencement held at West Virginia University.
Information on him will be presented during the free presentation, which is open to the public. Attendees will find ample parking at the Harold S. Walters Nature Center.
Park Naturalist Paulita Cousin will be the event host and she promises hot chocolate and an enjoyable program. The nature center exhibits will also be open for the evening.
The history program is made possible by funding from the West Virginia Humanities Council and Blackwater Falls State Park. To view illustrations and drawings preserved digitally by Strother, an artist and writer once considered a household name, anyone interested can visit images.lib.wvu.edu/StrothBook.pdf. There are more than 700 images online, many depicting people and places in what was then Virginia, now West Virginia, including the Blackwater Falls and Berkeley Springs state park areas.