ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – The more than 200 years old original portrait of Landon Carter, the man that Carter County was named after, was unveiled at the Sycamore Shoals State Park Visiting Center on Saturday.

Landon Carter was an early settler of the Watauga Settlement, a soldier, politician and community man, according to local historians.

“He was only ten years old when he came to the frontier with his father, John Carter,” said Chad Bogart, Museum Curatorial Assistant. “His father was a wealthy businessman who came to set up a trade relationship with people living here on the frontier and quickly rose in prominence in the community.”

Landon Carter fought in battles, including the Siege of Fort Watauga in 1776.

“Landon, just like any other man here in the settlement, was part of the military, the militia,” said Bogart. “He rose in rank and both civil and military affairs, served in the Revolutionary War.”

Bogart says Landon Carter was in the North Carolina Legislature when the region was still a part of the North Carolina colony.

“He was also in the State of Franklin Movement, which was an attempt to create a 14th state here on the frontier,” said Bogart. “And then he became very involved in Tennessee politics when it was established in 1796. He died at a young age of 40 in 1800.”

The Tennessee State Legislature chose to name Carter County after Landon Carter.

“When the town of Elizabethton was established, his wife Elizabeth, was where the namesake of the town came from,” said Jennifer Bauer, Sycamore Shoals State Park Manager. “So, that just tells us how precious they were and important as they were to the community and to the formation of this nation back in the late 18th century.”

Bauer says the portrait more than likely hung in the Carter Mansion, where Landon Carter and his family lived. The portrait then moved to the Alfred Moore-Carter house, which was the home of one of Landon Carter’s sons.

The over 200-year-old portrait became in the possession of descendants of the Carters for many years said Bauer.

“We got together with them and they decided that they would really love for that painting that’s so precious to Carter County and to our community and to history as a whole, that they really felt that people needed to be able to see it and enjoy it.,” said Bauer. “And hence they came to us with the help of Friends of Sycamore Shoals State Park.”

Kim Guinn, the Essyx Exhibits and Displays in Johnson City owner was asked to restore the portrait. Guinn said he trained himself in restoration work and then went into the exhibition business. He said it took him well over 100 hours to restore Landon Carter’s portrait.

“When I received the painting, it was extremely dark, very heavily soiled,” said Guinn.” I was hoping that the varnish that was used would be very easy to remove.”

Guinn said when inspecting the portrait, he found that linseed oil was used for varnish.

“The linseed oil had turned very dark, gray, green, and it took a lot of effort to remove,” said Guinn. “The linseed oil is very difficult to remove from any surface, much less a painting.”

Guinn said he had to use a strong chemical solvent to remove the linseed oil varnish.

“I finally found the right combination and then removed the linseed oil with Q-tips,” said Guinn. “That’s what I use as a tool. Many hundreds of Q-tips to remove that linseed oil and the painting started coming to life. And as you can see, the hair and everything started showing up, which you couldn’t see his hair, the lapel, any of the very little of the details that are apparent now that you can see.”

Guinn said he also relined the canvas and did minor touch-ups. His final touch was to apply a new layer of varnish.

“So if a hundred years from now somebody wants to remove that varnish, they can if it collects any dust or dirt,” said Guinn.

A signature was not found on the artwork, so the artist of the portrait is unknown.

The portrait is now being displayed in the Sycamore Shoals State Park Museum indefinitely.

“Landon Carter, this was his stomping ground when he was a young man and he represented this area when he was in government affairs,” said Bogart. “And he lived here and died here and so it’s only natural that his portrait come back to Carter County for visitors to come and see the faces of these people who were part of our founding generation here.”