West Virginia Independence Hall Museum in downtown Wheeling will present a Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Activities will go on throughout the day and are free and open to the public.
Visitors can try their hand at tasks like candle dipping and shelling corn. Children also can enjoy coloring and craft projects which they can take home.
Guided tours of the museum will be led by the colorful 19th-century character, Elizabeth Busbey. Dressed in period clothing, the living history guide brings to life the turmoil citizens of Wheeling felt during the Civil War. The guided tours are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Self-guided tours are always available.
Visitors can see the permanent exhibition West Virginia: Born of the Civil War which features dramatic displays with period artifacts and explores the statehood process against the background of the Civil War. They also can view an interpretive video For Liberty and Union.
At 2 p.m., in the historic courtroom on the third floor, a special program entitled “General Moses: Stories from the Life of Harriet Tubman” featuring Ilene Evans of Elkins will be presented. Evans will perform a dramatic interpretation of Tubman’s critical contributions to the northern war effort.
During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served with the Union Army as a cook, laundress, nurse, scout, and spy behind Confederate lines. In 1862, she moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, when it was occupied by the Union Army, and with several missionary teachers, helped hundreds of Sea Islander slaves transition from bondage to freedom. She also undertook scouting and spying missions, identifying potential targets for the Army, such as cotton stores and ammunition storage areas. It was during this period that she came to be known as Moses or General Moses. Tubman was never paid the regular wages of a soldier, even though her contributions were as significant.
The program is presented in the Chautauqua style which consists of three segments: a monologue by Tubman, a question and answer period with Tubman followed by a question and answer session with the scholar and actress Evans.
Evans teaches, lectures and performs throughout the United States and Europe. Her work is educational, entertaining and suitable for all ages. She has received extensive theater and dance training in the master’s degree program at the University of Wisconsin. In 1991, she created and started touring her original work, “General Moses, Stories from the Life of Harriet Tubman.” She received the Tidmarsh Foundation for the Arts grant for the program and has performed the piece in conjunction with a companion workshop about the Underground Railroad. Evans is the co-founder of Voices from the Earth, a non-profit arts organization. She also has created performances of “Harvest of Dreams” and “They Call Me Ms. Memphis.” These programs reveal the rich African American culture through stories, songs and poems. In 2000, Evans performed “Harvest of Dreams” at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Evans has served as president of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild. In addition, she has been the featured vocalist and storyteller for Peter and the Wolf with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra.
Visitors are invited to enjoy cookies and cider which will be served in the reception area on the first floor of the museum immediately after Evans’ Harriet Tubman performance.
For more information about the Fall Festival, contact Melissa Brown, site manager at West Virginia Independence Hall, at (304) 238-1300.
West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988 and is on the Civil War Discovery Trail, which links more than 500 sites in 28 states to inspire and to teach the story of the Civil War and its enduring impact on America. Operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation, the museum in open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of major holidays, and is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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