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lewis wetzel Lewis Wetzel
Ohio Valley Frontiersman

I have heard and read about the exploits of the legendary Lewis Wetzel for the entire time I have lived in Wetzel County, West Virginia.  I have thought many times about doing a painting of the frontiersman, but wondered how to show the face of a person who lived in an age before photography.  Historical descriptions are helpful, and some include notes about his physical appearance, but after being shown some old photos by a Wetzel family member, I decided that the face of a descendent nephew who lived near the Ohio River and passed away in the mid-nineteen eighties, seemed to share some characteristics with his ancestor, and would serve as a guide.  I was surprised and pleased to learn that the nephew also shared something else ---- the name Lewis Wetzel.  I painted the portrait to resemble the nephew, then tried to alter it to show the rougher, more weathered face of a man exposed to the hardships inflicted by the Eighteenth Century eastern frontier.  And I can claim that this is really a portrait of Lewis Wetzel.