December 25, 1887: Folk Artist James T. Rexrode Born
Folk artist James T. Rexrode was born in Pendleton County on Christmas Day 1887. Although he’d always been an amateur photographer, he didn’t start painting until late in life.
He made his living as a Pendleton County teacher. Then, after his wife’s death in 1966, he found a new hobby. At the age of 78, he began sketching local buildings, churches, schoolhouses, and mills. At first, he drew only from his photographs but then started painting what he called the “old-timey subjects” of his youth. These included butchering, one-room schools, old-time Christmases, barn raisings, quilting, and harvesting. Working at his kitchen table, he painted in a folk-art style similar to Grandma Moses. In fact, a folk art expert later referred to Rexrode as “Grandpa Moses.”
His timing couldn’t have been better because folk art was becoming extremely popular in the late ’60s. His paintings caught on quickly and were sold in Winchester, Virginia, and in the Georgetown section of Washington, D. C. As a result, the octogenarian became a celebrated folk artist. James T. Rexrode died in 1976 at the age of 88.