Thomas Corwin was born in Kentucky in 1794. His father moved the family to what would become Warren County, Ohio in 1798. He was educated in the wilderness in a log structure built by the fledgling community. The War of 1812 saw Northern Ohio ravaged by the Indian confederation which was allied with the British. After General Hull surrendered Detroit to the British, protection from these destructive raids was minimal. Corwin, then a teenager, drove supply wagons north to feed the starving American troops. He was self-taught in the law and was admitted to the bar in 1817, and was elected to the Ohio General Assembly in 1822. Corwin was elected to the United States Congress in 1830 and he served in that body for ten successive years. In 1840 he was elected Governor of Ohio. In 1845, after his term as Governor, he was elected to the U.S. Senator. In 1850 he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, and in 1852 he returned to Ohio and his home in Lebanon. He practiced law from his office in Cincinnati, and his prominence and reputation earned him the position of Minister to Mexico in 1861 after which he set up a practice in Washington where he died in 1865.
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.