Studio History

Location of Cup O Swank Studio in 1913 Flood

Location of Cup O Swank Studio in the 1913 Flood ©Herald-Dispatch

This studio has history. It’s been my home for a large portion of my life, and I’ve always been curious about the earlier residents, and their neighbors. Today I share a small bit with you, constant reader.

I know a great deal about the history of my little patch of earth, and the home that rests there. Civil War atrocities were committed in what is now my vegetable garden. When I dig deep enough, I hit a layer of ash from the burning of the original Douthit home. I’ve been told a fit of blind rage sparked a murder sometime in the 1920’s, where I now keep my garbage bins. And then there were the floods.

Knowing just some of what had happened in my home, I began researching the families that had lived here before me. It occurs to me that when I am long gone, this house will likely still be here. She is solid. Like a ship’s captain, I know the width of the beams that make her. I know the creak of the stairs, the ripple of the old windowpanes, the worn spot on the balustrade.

It was because of this feeling of connection to those who once looked out these same windows, that I decided to gather photographs and create portraits of these people. I am no relation, except by residence, and I think that is enough. With the kind aid of their descendants, I am creating a gallery of portraits. They will be displayed in my entrance hall, in old frames, and one day I hope my portrait hangs among them.

Here is a photo of Margaret Douthit, mother of Harry Duval Douthit, and the resulting portrait. I recently mailed a print of this work to Robin Thurman of Oklahoma. As a Douthit descendant, she has been so helpful to me in my research. If I create a painting of an early resident, the person who provided me the photo receives a signed print of their ancestor’s portrait, as a small token of my gratitude.

Margaret Douthit, courtesy of Robin Thurman

"Margaret Douthit" ©Kathy Ferrell 2011, acrylic on watercolor paper

The next portrait I hope to create will be of Gertrude Douthit, Harry’s wife, and mother to Josephine. Her photo was provided to me by the kindness of Elizabeth Mowry Hull.

Gertrude Douthit (later DeBolt), courtesy of Elizabeth Mowry Hull

Gertrude’s husband Harry died quite young, while their child Josephine was still small, and census records show that Gertrude then married the Rev. Philip Y. DeBolt, a minister at the Guyandotte Methodist Church that sits on the corner of 5th and Main. They both died around the time of the 1937 Flood, which inundated my studio. Josephine had married and moved to Oklahoma, and the house then changed hands a few times before it came to me.

In the photo of my studio location in the 1913 flood, it is believed that the little girl in the upstairs window is Josephine Douthit. The woman nearby is surely Gertrude. I discovered this photo purely by accident in the Herald Dispatch a few months ago. It startled me to see some of the people I’d been researching in such dire straits. Then I noticed something even more surprising. What appears to be a plume of smoke can be seen rolling from the window behind the little girl. Was this poor family waiting for rescue from the flood when the house actually caught fire?

So, constant reader, I hope you enjoyed this latest update on what’s going on at Cup O Swank. If you know the history of any of the early residents mentioned here, I’d love to hear about it. Be well, be kind and come back.

©Kathy Ferrell and “Big Cup O’Blog” (blog about Cup O Swank Studio), 2011.Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or individual copyright owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kathy Ferrell and Big Cup O’Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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