Wilson Shannon was born in 1803 in Belmont County, Ohio. He was raised on a farm and at the age of 15 he was sent off to school for one year at Ohio University in Athens.The following year he entered Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky. Following his experience at Lexington, he returned to Ohio to study law and, after admission to the bar in 1828, opened a law office in St. Clairsville, Ohio. He was elected Governor of Ohio in 1838 after receiving the Democratic Party nomination. He defeated Joseph Vance, a Whig, on that occasion. The following election he lost to Corwin, but was reelected in 1842. He was appointed to the ministry to Mexico in 1844, and in 1852 he was elected to Congress. In 1857 he was appointed Governor of Kansas and moved his family and practice to that territory. In 1875 he argued the famous "Osage Land Case" before the Supreme Court of the United States, and won. Shannon died in Lawrence, Kansas in 1877.
John Henry Witt (Witte) was born in Indiana near the Ohio River town of Dublin. During his youth he worked as a machinist and wagon painter for his uncle's agricultural supply firm. Witt relocated to Columbus after a time of study with J.O. Eaton in Cincinnati in 1862. J.O. Eaton had gained the reputation of being one of the most talented figure and portrait painters. John Witt was a very active artist in the central Ohio, painting portraits of many of the leading families therein. He also was a noteworthy teacher; his students included some of the foremost regional artists of the day. Silas Martin, James Mosure and Philip Clover were some of the standouts. Witt took an active role in the affairs of the capitol city and is the artist of record for a significant number of the Ohio governor's portraits in the Statehouse art collection. In 1873 Witt was in Washington, DC painting portraits of General Sherman, Senator Sherman, Judge Swayne, and Charles Sumner. He was a member of the Literary Club of Washington, D.C. In 1878 he moved to New York City where he became one of the top society artists of the day. Witt was enrolled as an associate member of the New York Academy of Art in 1887.