Program on Cherokee chief planned in Beverly

The Randolph County Historical Society is pleased to announce it is hosting a History Alive! presentation with “Cherokee chief Ostenaco,” at the Beverly Heritage Center at 7 p.m. July 21. The portrayal will be presented by Doug Wood of Nitro.

The site where Beverly now stands was first settled in 1753 by the Robert Files family, and soon afterward, all but one family member died in an Indian raid. This was apparently one of the seminal events leading into the French and Indian War, fought from 1754-1763 by the British colonists against the French and their native allies. The death of the Files family was widely known as evidenced by the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia and Maryland, published in 1775 by surveyors Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson. Their map identifies a spot on the headwaters of the Monongahela River as being where “Foyle” was murdered in November 1753. The portion of the Monongahela headwaters now known as the Tygart or Tygart Valley River was not yet known by that name.

Fry and Jefferson were both members of the surveying party which ran the famous Fairfax line in 1746. Ostenaco was an occasional guest of Jefferson, and favorably impressed Jefferson’s young son, Thomas, who also dabbled in surveying and served as third president of the United States from 1801-1809.

Randolph County Historical Society president Don Teter will display a copy of the Fry-Jefferson map, and will introduce Ostenaco.

Despite the name “French and Indian War” implying that all natives opposed the British settlers during that conflict, some sided with them. Ostenaco was a leader of Cherokee warriors who allied with Virginia military leaders against northern tribes fighting for the French. His leadership provided a vital alliance for the British colonial settlements in much of present West Virginia. He passed through the Tygart Valley, and his influence contributed significantly to the expansion of English-speaking peoples into the Mountain State.

Ostenaco is one of the many available character presentations offered through the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program as a means of exploring history by interacting with noteworthy historical figures. These programs provide audiences with the opportunity to question those who have shaped our history.

Historical characterization is the vehicle for this program. Humanities scholars have carefully researched the writings, speeches and biographies of the characters they portray and whenever possible, use their original words.

The West Virginia Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians. For more than 30 years, the Council has been providing educational programs in the humanities across the state.

History Alive! programs are available to interested nonprofit and for profit groups. For more information, call The West Virginia Humanities Council at 304-346-8500 or go online and visit the website www.wvhumanities.org.