Elderly Female Household Servant, Virginia, early 1850s

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This record was last updated on 10 Feb 2017

Image Reference

Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, vol. 12 (Aug. 1856), p. 310.

David Hunter Strother was a widely known and popular mid- 19th century American graphic artist and writer, originally from Virginia/West Virginia. Under the pen name “Porte Crayon” he wrote and illustrated “Virginia Illustrated, Adventures of Porte Crayon and His Cousins,” a narrative of the experiences of several travelers through central Virginia in late 1853 (see Cecil Eby, Porte Crayon: the life of David Hunter Strother [Chapel Hill, 1960]); the series appeared in five parts over 1854-56 in Harpers New Monthly Magazine. The illustration shown here is from this series. Captioned, “Aunt Winnie,” the author reports on a visit to an estate in Central Virginia, not far from Charlottesville, where they met “an aged domestic, Aunt Winnie …a person of too much importance on the estate to be slighted . . . . Her little white-washed cabin stood at no great distance from the great house, and was fitted up with due regard to the comfort of the aged occupant, not forgetting the ornamental, in the shape of highly colored lithographs and white-fringed curtains. . . . Aunt Winnie was supposed to be upward of a hundred years old, and could count among her descendants’ children of the fifth generation, one of whom stood at her side when Crayon took a sketch of her. She walked with difficulty, but her eyes were bright, and her other faculties apparently complete. Her memory was good and her narratives of the olden time replete with interest” (pp. 309-310). See also references HARP01, HARP02.