Edwin Whytsell painted on "things flat" 1930s-1950s

Photos of paintings courtesy of Roy Edman
Connolly, Jr. and Harold Ray Dean Whytsell

See also Whytsell Paintings Part I

By Bob Weaver 2008

Edwin Lowell Whytsell was a rig builder, carpenter, farmer, blacksmith, musician and artist, a man of place on the lower West Fork near the long-gone Village of Richardson.

He wiled his spare hours away painting with materials he had available, mostly from 1930 through 1958.

"I remember watching him paint on the sun porch of the house he built on property he bought between Rocksdale and Richardson in 1920," said granddaughter Peggy Whytsell Stemple.

"I was fascinated with his paint box," she said, noting he was a self-taught artist who used available materials. None of his paintings appeared on canvass.

Ed, as a young man left the backwoods of Calhoun to work in the giant timbering operations along Cherry River in the higher mountains of West Virginia. He returned to work for Carter Oil in 1914 in the newly developed oil and gas fields near Richardson.

Whytsell was a man of the land, in his early life working in the high mountains of West Virginia

Later, he went to work for the Hope Gas Company, operating the Bee Compressor Station at Richardson. he retired from Hope in 1945.

Edwin Lowell and Rettie Starcher Whytsell

Born in 1886, he was the son of Charles William and Almira Emeline Lynch Whytsell. He married Rettie Starcher, the daughter of Jefferson Davis and Mary Mace Starcher, parents of seven children and fifteen grandchildren.

His daughters, Hazel Mae Kemmner Connolly and Elizabeth Almira McCoy, and sons, Randall Edwin, Woodrow Wilson, Dewey Paul, Victor Eugene and Charles Davis Whytsell.

Ed and his wife Rettie died in 1971 within a day or so of each other, having a joint funeral service at Stony Point Church.

Perhaps his most tangible legacy is his primitive paintings, having been distributed to his descendants.

The other legacy to the community which continues, the longtime Whytsell Reunion, started by his son Randall and wife Blanche, now deceased, but moves on through the efforts of his granddaughter Peggy, her husband Marvin Stemple and other family members and community citizens.

The next reunion is set for August 7.

See also