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The Gilmore native gained fame as a watercolor artist

This school watercolor was done by William Francis Gilmore, a native of the village of Gilmore.

William Franklin Gilmore, a native of Tuscarawas County, developed a strong regional reputation as a watercolor artist, creating more than a thousand drawings over the course of his life.

His works depicted scenery in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Carolina. Some of him have focused on his old hometown of Gilmore in southern Tuscarawas County, including West Union United Methodist Church and Devil’s Den.

He taught art in Canton public schools from 1898 to 1931 and was considered the dean of Canton artists when he died in 1946. His paintings were exhibited several times at the Massillon Museum.

“During the last 15 years of his life, Mr. Gilmore’s watercolor paintings were noted for their extraordinary brilliance, which he attributed to a special technique he developed,” said his obituary in the Canton Repository. “Instead of mixing his bright colors with him, he juxtaposed them on the white paper and allowed the colors to blend together by optical illusion.”

A relative, Greg McFee, is writing a book about Gilmore’s life.

“The recurring theme in his life that I drew from everything was that he was a strong Christian. He loved the outdoors. Most of his paintings are outdoors,” said McFee.

Artist William Francis Gilmore (left) is pictured with his brothers Calvin Gilmore, Isaac Kurtz Gilmore and Lessie McFee.

Gilmore was born in a log home in Rush Township, a short distance from Gilmore, on April 1, 1865, two weeks before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He was the eldest son of Gordon and Roann Lakin Gilmore. McFee’s great-grandmother, Lessie McFee, was Gilmore’s sister.

Frank, as he was known, began teaching at the age of 19. He taught in Gnadenhutten and later in Conover, Ohio. He was the principal of Conover’s school, but when a fire destroyed the building, he lost his job.

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