County Courthouse in 1903
White County Historical Society
White County, Arkansas

David Christopher “DC” Hite was an artist in overalls. He and his wife Bertha lived on a farm in Romance, where his hands guided the plow as well as the paintbrush. He was a self-taught artist with no formal training, but his work so delighted family members that many illustrations and paintings have survived, 40 years after his death. Born on Christmas Day in 1896, he joined the U.S. Army when World War I broke out and was assigned as a private first class to a veterinary hospital. Judging from his wartime scenes, he apparently saw some bloody action and remembered it long after the war was over. His ability to handle animals helped him earn subsistence when the war ended and he settled on the farm in Romance. He enjoyed illustrating even on the battlefront. He didn’t own a camera, but brought back images of the war in his duffel bag and in his mind, which survive still today in the form of colorful sketches, some of them possibly of historical interest. We can show them only in black and white here, but most of his illustrations are in vivid color. An exception is the “delousing” sketch at the top of this page, done as a cartoon in black and white reminiscent of Bill Mauldin’s “Willie and Joe” sketches that were extremely popular in WWII. He drew the scene in 1918 while stationed in France. It shows Army troops pushing, pulling, whipping and dragging balky mules

through a dipping vat, obviously to eradicate the European insects that they carried. During WWI, mules were still the primary way to move heavy field artillery. Another significant wartime image sketched by the White County farmer was a bloody scene in Bellow Woods, France, where Pfc. Hite’s unit found only a solitary mule standing among dead corpses after an intense battle. He drew the picture nearly 50 years later, on March 30, 1967, about five months before he died at age 71. Combat wasn’t the only thing on the young soldier’s mind while he was serving in France. Found in his collection was a colorful sketch of a cowboy and his cowgirl, dated 1919. Bertha died in 1988 at age 82. The collection of Hite art went to their son Robert Hite, a Korean War veteran, and when he died in 1995, the art eventually wound up with D.C. Hite’s great-granddaughter, Kristy Pollard of Mountain Home, Arkansas. She recently donated these copies to the White County Historical Society. Kristy and her daughter drove to Romance a few years ago to visit the cemetery. “I knew before then that the old farmhouse was not there any more,” she says. “My dad said that after Robert died, the fire department did the only kind thing they could and burned the house in a training exercise!” If you’d like to see the drawings in color, go to the White County Historical Society website at www.whitecounty.us and look under “Memories of Yesterday” for “Romance’s Artist in Overalls.” vvv