Program to showcase talent

On Thursday, Sept. 19, from 7-8 p.m., two well-known Elkins artists, dancer Laurie Goux and musician Michael Kline, will join a cast of historical re-enactors in a free, family-friendly West Virginia 150th Birthday program at the Randolph County Courthouse in Elkins. The program, titled “A New Home for Liberty – Human Rights, Slavery and the Creation of West Virginia,” is sponsored by the J.R. Clifford Project, with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

A short reception will follow the program. More information is available at, or by calling 304-541-4494 or 304-265-0018.

Fairmont State University professor and attorney Greg Hinton will portray J.R. Clifford, a civil war veteran and West Virginia’s first African-American attorney. Senior State Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher will portray Granville Hall, an early West Virginia anti-slavery statesman who recorded the Wheeling Statehood Conventions.

Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong will welcome the audience to the historic courtroom.

“We are excited that local re-enactors Art and Pam Dodds will portray Governor Francis Pierpont and Mrs. Julia Pierpont, early Statehood leaders,” said Preston County attorney Thomas Rodd, the J.R. Clifford Project’s co-director. Other Elkins-area participants include Melvin Marks and Kay Marks, appearing in a scene from Clifford’s boyhood; and D&E student Michael Good, portraying a young Granville Hall. Local author and historian and West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission member Hunter Lesser will discuss how the slavery issue shaped statehood.

Rodd said, “Thousands of Western Virginians – black and white, slave and free – risked their lives and fortunes for the cause of liberty in a new State of West Virginia. ‘A New Home for Liberty’ tells their stories.

“We plan to have a fast-paced and fun program – where people will learn amazing things about West Virginia history that they never knew before,” Rodd continued. “Admission is free, so bring the whole family on September 19 to the courthouse and help celebrate West Virginia’s 150th Birthday!”