On Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center will host a free, interactive historical performance of the renowned author and artist David Hunter Strother, who used the pen name Porte Crayon. The portrayal, by Fairmont State University Assistant Professor of Surveying Don Teter, brings to life West Virginia’s preeminent example of 19thcentury “local color” writers and artists, using Porte Crayon’s informative and humorous stories and reproductions of several of his sketches and illustrations. This program is free and open to the public.
“One of the greatest values of representing history through theatre is being able to provide entertainment and bring history alive for the audience,” explains Don Teter, who first developed the presentation for History Alive!, a program sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council. “Through careful research of the artist’s writing, speeches and biographies, I am able to interact with the audience and answer their questions as Porte Crayon himself might have answered them.”
Born in Martinsburg, trained as an artist in Europe and havinggained fame as a writer and illustrator for national magazines under the name Porte Crayon, David Hunter Strother is recognized as one of the most accomplished and diverse men of the new state of West Virginia. After illustrating his cousin Philip Pendleton Kennedy’s The Blackwater Chronicle, which shared the exploits of an 1851 expedition of sportsmen into the Canaan Valley, Strother embarked on a lengthy career as a travel writer and artist.
From Harper’s Ferry and Charles Town, he reported and illustrated John Brown’s capture, trial and execution for Harper’s 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 a speaker at the first commencement held at West Virginia University.
Donald L. Teter earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Davis and Elkins College in 1973. He received his license as a West Virginia Professional Surveyor in 1982, and was self-employed in that field for over 35 years. In the early 2000’s he began presenting professional continuing education seminars for surveyors, which eventually led to becoming an adjunct professor at Fairmont State, and he has been a full-time faculty member since January, 2018.