The Thomas County Historical Society’s Fall Into History series concludes Sunday, November 5 at 3pm with a gallery talk by Randy Rhea about the artist John Houston Mifflin detailing his life, career, and Thomasville connections. In 1840, the itinerant Pennsylvania-born painter brought his skills to Thomasville where he painted portraits of several local plantation owners including Harriet and James Joseph Blackshear of Cedar Grove (Susina), Sophronia and Richard Mitchell of Fair Oaks, and Elisabeth and Thomas Bratton Winn of Winnstead. These six portraits, and what may be a portrait of the artist himself, are currently on display in the Museum.
John Houston Mifflin was a descendant of the influential Mifflin family that first arrived in the American colonies in 1676 with William Penn. Mifflin’s great-great uncle was a friend of George Washington, the first governor of Pennsylvania, and a signer of the US Constitution. Mifflin studied art in Philadelphia and traveled extensively in Europe. In 1835, long before Thomasville’s Resort Era brought vacationers south for the winter, Mifflin began wintering in South Carolina and Georgia, and painting portraits of wealthy southerners. In 1840, he traveled to Thomasville and painted portraits of at least four plantation couples. In this presentation, Rhea will share more about John Houston Mifflin, his travels, and his work.