Beverly honors West Virginia statehood

One hundred and fifty years ago this June, West Virginia became a state. In honor of that anniversary, the Beverly Heritage Center will hold daylong activities and a statehood commemoration program on June 15.

“We know there are big celebrations coming up in Wheeling and Charleston on the actual statehood anniversary date of June 20,” said Darryl DeGripp, executive director of the Beverly Heritage Center. “We wanted to have our own commemoration for Randolph County on the Saturday before. We usually hold Lemuel Chenoweth Day in Beverly on this weekend to honor Beverly’s famous bridgebuilder, so this June we are combining the two events.”

The statehood program will begin at 1 p.m. in the Randolph County Courthouse in the Beverly Heritage Center, with a presentation by author and historical interpreter Hunter Lesser, entitled “Lincoln’s Odd Trick: Heroes, Rascals & Rogues of West Virginia Statehood.” This multimedia presentation will focus on the colorful personalities of the statehood saga.

Then Francis Pierpont, governor of the Restored Government of Virginia, will appear, portrayed by Art Dodds. He will be joined by Gary Goetze as Sen. John Carlile. They will interact with each other and the audience, sharing their passion for West Virginia statehood and some of the issues and controversies they dealt with, and what turned Carlile against the statehood designation he had worked so hard for.

The program will also include some brief remarks about “West Virginia 150 Years Later.” to put the impact of statehood into a modern perspective. It will conclude with a proclamation and a patriotic anthem led by Pamela Dodds portraying Mrs. Julia Pierpont.

Prior to the formal program, starting at 11:30 a.m. in the Beverly Heritage Center, Mountain Winds Woodwind Ensemble will play a program of 19th century music. Richard Evans on flute, Morris Kittle on clarinet, and Linda Wolfersheim on bass clarinet will perform an assortment of period patriotic and parlor music.

Following the program, a reception will feature a West Virginia birthday cake. Reception music will be provided by the Rich Mountain String Band performing Civil War and minstrel tunes.

Chenoweth Day activities throughout Beverly will begin at 10 a.m. The Lemuel Chenoweth House Antiques and Museum will be open for visitors to view the house and sample hospitality treats. The Mountain Weavers Guild and other demonstrators will provide demonstrations of traditional crafts at various locations through town. The Randolph Enterprise print shop in the Beverly Heritage Center will be printing a special West Virginia statehood handbill.

Other shops and attractions will be open including the Randolph County Museum, the Marketplace, Back in Tyme, and Historic Beverly Antique Mall in the Goff house.

A bonus program at 3 p.m. in the Beverly Heritage Center will feature a performance of a traveling program of Appalachian stories. “Tall Shadows Passing By: Folktales and Music from these Hills” will be a live performance event presented by Traveling 219 and The Mountain Dance Trail. Over the course of an hour, they will explore folktales, both familiar and lesser-known, through live storytelling, music, theater, and experimental audio.

The event will feature the work of multimedia journalist Jessie Wright-Mendoza of Traveling 219, dancer and performer Becky Hill of The Mountain Dance Trail, award-winning storyteller Adam Booth, and a host of local musicians and performers.

“This special event, commemorating 150 years of West Virginia’s statehood, is free and open to the public. We hope visitors and local residents will all come out and participate in the state’s birthday celebration,” said DeGripp.

The event is sponsored by the Beverly Heritage Center, with funding provided by the West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. Sponsorship opportunities are available for supporting businesses.

The event is sponsored by the Beverly Heritage Center and Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation, with funding provided by the West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission and sponsorship from the Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available for supporting businesses.

The Beverly Heritage Center is a museum, visitor center, and gift shop located at the corner of US Rt 219 and Files Creek Road in Beverly, six miles south of Elkins. For more information, call 304-637-7424, or visit on Facebook or at