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Ona Stella was a prolific painter.

Ona was born in Kansas in September, 1873 only months after the tumultuous journey her family made from Ohio to Kansas seeking a more fruitful life on the plains. Her father would indeed become a prosperous farmer, raising cattle, sheep, and pigs, cultivating orchards, and harvesting corn and wheat fields.

Her daily life on the family farm she shared with her parents, five sisters, and a brother, was continuously captured through her somewhat somber oil paintings of livestock, the land, and the structures that sat upon it. Even a painting of kittens, clearly an earlier painting given its coarse style, feels a bit solemn.

She would marry, but would not have children — only three of her siblings would; one sister had five children, another would have a daughter, and her brother would adopt a daughter.

Family lore suggests that she may have struggled with her mental health, she did pass at the fairly young age of 37, but of course there’s no way of knowing for certain if she had such issues. Her obituary doesn’t mention her artistic endeavors, which in itself is disheartening given her distinguishable talent.