Joseph H. Diss Debar was born in France on March 6, 1820. He immigrated to the United States at age 22. On his voyage across the Atlantic, he happened to meet and become friends with author Charles Dickens.
Diss Debar eventually wound up in Parkersburg as a land agent. For 29 years, he lived in either Parkersburg or the Doddridge County community of St. Clara, which he founded for German-Swiss immigrants. During this time, he sketched numerous people and scenes, providing some of our best images of life on the western Virginia frontier.