Valorus McElheney served as a soldier in Company B, 2nd Regiment of the NY Mounted Rifles of the Grand Army of the Republic during the Civil War. After losing his right arm in combat, he returned to civilian life disheartened by his inability to write. However, while at Alfred University, he learned to draw and write with his left hand.
When he was twenty-one, he completed a calligraphic drawing. His daughter later donated it to the university. Her hope in presenting the illustration was to remind others of the impact Alfred University had on his life.