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Displaying items by tag: Parley S. Downer

Saturday, 23 February 2013 05:30

The Mysterious Parley S. Downer

The whimsical crayon drawings of the artist whose signature has been interpreted as “P. S. Downes” has elicited interest from folk art collectors and scholars since the 1970s.1 The images portrayed frequently relate stories—supposedly autobiographical—about an aged sailor who saw service in the merchant marines (slaving, smuggling, being ship wrecked), who had been a member of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Company K during the Civil War, and was later a member of the S. L. Judd Grand Army Post No. 377 in Windsor, New York. Record searches to date have turned up no evidence of such a man. Speculation that the artist had a connection to the village of Downsville in Delaware County, New York, because many of his drawings have been found in this area, seem logical, but have also turned up little information. It was the recent Internet publication of the list of Civil War Soldiers in Madison County that allowed a Private Parley S. Downer of Company K of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery to step forward and be recognized. Reevaluation of the signature that appears on many of the works by the artist show that what has reasonably been viewed as “P. S. Downes” is, in fact, “P. S. Downer,” and the Scottie appearing in many of his works is, as theorized, his middle name.

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