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Arthur is believed to be the first white man to see the Kanawha Valley while traveling with a band of Indians in 1674. He was sent with a partner and others from Fort Henry (present Petersburg, Virginia) to explore western lands and trade with the Indians. His partner was killed and Arthur traveled widely with the natives, apparently participating in raids in the Ohio Valley and elsewhere. During this time, he followed the Big Coal River to its mouth at the Kanawha River. Arthur and the southern Indians with whom he traveled were welcomed at the large Moneton Indian village at present St. Albans before returning to Fort Henry with a load furs.
Portrayed by Doug Wood of Hurricane
Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)
Nellie Bly was the pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochrane who became a well-known investigative reporter in the late 1800s. To get a job as a reporter with the New York World she got herself committed to a lunatic asylum with no guarantee of release. Her subsequent newspaper series on the conditions and treatment of the institutionalized women led to improvements in the care for the mentally ill. In November of 1889 she started around the world to better the time of the fictional Phineas Fogg from the book, Around the World in Eighty Days.
Portrayed by JoAnn Peterson of Kingwood
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)
Revolutionary, founding father, printer, scientist, inventor, journalist, traveler, diplomat, thinker, civic leader, natural philosopher, humorist, librarian, organizer, militia member, international celebrity, and quintessential American. Benjamin Franklin was one of the most extraordinary men in history and the most famous American of his time. He was the only founding father to sign the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and the United States Constitution.
Portrayed by Leon Alexander of Charleston
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (1824 – 1863)
Born in Clarksburg, Jackson was an orphan who became one of the most renowned names in military history. He is regarded as a tactical genius and a relentless battlefield commander. The men of the “Stonewall Brigade” were fiercely loyal to their leader. General Jackson was a devoutly religious man whose death by friendly fire was a crushing blow to Confederate hopes for victory.
Portrayed by Doug Riley of Tunnelton
Ostenaco (ca. 1703 - 1780)
During the French and Indian War, Ostenaco was a leader of Cherokee warriors who allied with Virginia military leaders against northern tribes fighting with the French. His leadership provided a vital alliance for the British colonial settlements in much of present West Virginia. Ostenaco’s influence contributed significantly to the expansion of English-speaking people into Western Virginia.
Portrayed by Doug Wood of Hurricane
Minnie Pearl (1912 – 1996)
Sarah Colley studied theater while in college during the Great Depression intending to be a serious actress. While touring with a theater company she created the comedic down-home character of Minnie Pearl to help promote performances. Her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in 1940 was a success and eased fears that her satire of rural ways might not be appreciated by country audiences. People instead embraced Minnie as one of their own, and she became a legend in country entertainment.
Portrayed by Denise Giardina of Charleston
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962)
During the 12 years Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady she changed how the public viewed the role of the president’s wife. She was a vocal champion of social reform and human rights, traveled widely representing the president, authored books, gave speeches and visited troops during World War II. Her efforts on behalf of the founding of Arthurdale in Preston County in 1934 is a project for which she is well remembered in West Virginia.
Portrayed by Patty Cooper of Parkersburg
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
In addition to being the 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize, led the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, served as governor of New York, authored more than 35 books, ranched in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory, lectured around the world and established some of our most beloved national parks. A strong advocate of the “life of strenuous endeavor” Roosevelt pushed himself to overcome a sickly childhood. The youngest president in our history, he championed progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy.
Portrayed by Gene Worthington of Fayetteville
Sacagawea (c.1790 – 1812 or 1884)
When Lewis and Clark hired her French-Canadian husband as an interpreter for their 1804 expedition Sacagawea came along as the lone female member of the Corps of Discovery. She gave birth to a son in early 1805 and cared for the newborn on the grueling journey to the Pacific. Aside from her value as an interpreter with knowledge of the landscape, her presence with the expedition communicated to tribes along the way that the Corps had peaceful intentions.
Portrayed by Mary Dailey of Ronceverte
Charles Schulz (1922 – 2000)
Schulz was a cartoonist best known as the creator of the Peanuts comic strip that featured Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, and all the rest of the gang. A veteran of World War II, Schulz’s first Peanuts strip was published in 1950 in seven newspapers. At the time of his death in 2000 it was appearing in 2,600 papers around the world. Schulz recognized that comics were not just a medium for children. His ability to connect with people through a four-panel strip using dry humor, sarcasm, wit, and melancholy resulted in an ongoing daily narrative that lasted nearly 50 years. The popularity of his characters worldwide put them in demand for television specials, merchandise, movies, books, theatrical productions, and commercials, with NASA spacecraft named in their honor.
Portrayed by James Froemel of Maidsville
Harriet Tubman (1820 - 1913)
Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland but escaped through the Underground Railroad in 1849. She then became the most famous leader of that network, aiding slaves in their escape to the free states and Canada. When the Civil War erupted, her underground experiences and knowledge of covert operations made her a valuable resource to federal officers. She served as a spy, nurse, scout, and guide for Union troops and was present at the ill-fated assault of Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts in South Carolina.
Portrayed by Ilene Evans of Thomas
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
Mark Twain is celebrated as one of America’s great authors and humorists. As the young country rapidly grew into an international power in the second half of the 19th century, Twain shared his observations through writing and speeches. His best known novels are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but his work includes nonfiction, magazine articles, monographs, and commentaries that provide interesting insight into the American story. Mark Twain was the pen name of Samuel Clemens.
Portrayed by Doug Riley of Tunnelton
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