"Hoodwinked in Richmond," an original one-act play by Jane Birdsong, will debut at 2 p.m., Aug. 31, at Kump Education Center in Elkins. This performance of the historical drama is a feature for Fair at the Crossroads celebrating 150 years of West Virginia history.
The play depicts the political trickery that happened before the Virginia Legislature voted to secede from the Union. Delegates from western Virginia were unwilling to give up their allegiance to the United States of America, and they found themselves in hostile territory in Richmond.
The cast of local actors will include John Huerta, Julius Martin, Bob McCutcheon, Bill McWhorter and Dave Shombert. Joe Biola will be the narrator speaking as Preston County Del. James McGrew who wrote an account of his meeting with other delegates planning to organize local citizens against secession.
A newly published book, "James McGrew: West Virginia Statesman and Servant," by Susan M. Hardesty of Kingwood, inspired Birdsong to set her one-act play in Powhatan Hotel in Richmond. There western Virginia legislators discussed the political shenanigans that marginalized the people they represented from western counties in the mountains of Virginia.
Birdsong also researched accounts by other delegates who wrote about their experiences in those dangerous early days of the Civil War. They knew that big changes were coming, but they did not want to leave the Union. After Virginia voters decided to secede from the Union in 1861, leaders in the Western counties of the state began to organize a new government in Wheeling, and they consulted with President Lincoln.
Finally, the U.S. Congress recognized the new state in 1863 and Wheeling became the first capitol of West Virginia.
Kump Center has worked with Birdsong and Hardesty to bring this story to life so that West Virginians will have a better understanding of the political struggle that made our Mountain State the only state in the United States to be born of the Civil War. Statehood has been a special concept in these mountains for 150 years, and we are proud of our sesquicentennial year.