March 8, 1888: Artist and Author David Hunter Strother Dies

Mar 8, 2017

Artist and author David Hunter Strother died at Charles Town in Jefferson County on March 8, 1888, at age 71. Born in Martinsburg in 1816, he studied art in New York City and Europe before returning to America, where he learned to design wood-block illustrations for books and periodicals.

At the beginning of the Civil War, he famously illustrated the destruction of the Harpers Ferry Armory as it was engulfed in flames.
Credit E-WV / WV Humanities Council

In 1853, Strother wrote and illustrated an article about a sporting expedition in the Canaan Valley area. Submitted under the pen name “Porte Crayon,” the article became a sensation when it appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine—beginning his long involvement with Harper’s.

At the beginning of the Civil War, he famously illustrated the destruction of the Harpers Ferry Armory as it was engulfed in flames. During the war, he served as a topographer for the Union army and later published his personal recollections in Harper’s Monthly. He also introduced much of America to the rural character and folkways of West Virginia in his 10-part series “The Mountains.”

David Hunter Strother later edited a newspaper in Charleston and served as a diplomat to Mexico. He was planning to resurrect his writing career at the time of his death.