History Alive! characters Mother Jones, Frances Perkins, Bessie Smith, and Mark Twain

History Alive! roster


Abigail Adams

A witness to and active participant in our nation’s birth, Abigail Adams is well known for her advocacy of women's rights, especially in education, and her opposition to slavery.  A valued confidant and advisor to her husband John Adams, the nation's second president, Abigail cautioned him that the Founding Fathers should “remember the ladies” in the new laws they would write for our young country. Together, they were the first inhabitants of the White House.

Portrayed by JoAnn Peterson of Fort Ashby
301-268-5116
joannfpeterson@gmail.com

 

Gabriel Arthur 

Doug Wood as Gabriel ArthurArthur is believed to be the first European-American to see the Kanawha Valley while he traveled with a band of Yuchis in 1674. He was sent by his master, Abraham Wood, with a partner and Appamattuck guides from Fort Henry (present Petersburg, Virginia) to explore western lands and trade with the Indians west of the Blue Ridge. Though his traveling partner was killed, Arthur traveled widely with the Yuchis, participating in their battles against Spaniards and enemy Indians in the Ohio Valley and elsewhere, during the Beaver Wars. He entered the Kanawha River Valley, where he was welcomed by Yuchi allies, the Monetons, into their large village. After two near brushes with death, Arthur returned to Fort Henry with hope of extending his master's fur trade westward.

Portrayed by Doug Wood of Hurricane
304-550-1006
chingwe1755@gmail.com

 

Colonel Ruby Bradley

Becky Park as Col. Ruby Bradley, with brownish-red hair wearing dress nurse's Army uniform from the Korean War eraWhen Bradley retired from the U.S. Army in 1963 she was the most decorated woman in American military history. A native of Spencer, West Virginia, Bradley was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1941 and was a POW until 1945. She continued her work as a nurse in the prison camp. She was named Chief Nurse for the Eighth Army in 1951 and supervised over 500 nurses in Korea. Bradley attained the rank of Colonel in 1958.

Portrayed by Becky Park of Charleston
304-553-5603
rebeccamasonpark@gmail.com

 

Pearl S. Buck

Black and white image of Karen Vuranch as Pearl S. Buck, with dark hair and gloved hands folded, wearing a black hat with ornamentation, a dark dress, a light stole, pearl earrings and necklace, and smilingBorn in West Virginia, Buck grew up in China with her missionary parents, but never forgot her West Virginia roots. She received the Pulitzer Prize for her 1931 novel The Good Earth, and was the first American woman ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. She was also a humanitarian and social activist who was deeply concerned about the welfare of children worldwide.

Portrayed by Karen Vuranch of Fayetteville
304-575-3636
karen@wventerprises.com

 

Walt Disney

James Froemel as Walt Disney, standing with hands reached out, with dark mustache, wearing a gray suit and hat, with white shirt, and checkered navy blue-and-white tieThough his name has become synonymous with the monumentally successful company he created, a young Walt Disney struggled to create an animation company in Chicago, Illinois and Kansas City, Missouri before moving to Los Angeles, California in 1923. After losing the rights to some of his early animated characters, he finally struck Hollywood gold with the creation of Mickey Mouse and received Academy Awards for two short films in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His ambitions in animation were finally realized with the 1937 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which became, in its day, the highest grossing sound film of all time.

Portrayed by James Froemel of Maidsville
304-290-7562
jamesfroemel@gmail.com
Thomas Ingles

Doug Wood as Thomas Ingles, dressed as a 1700s hunter in the woods with a musket, wearing a black hat, off-white jacket, green britches, and beige shoesThomas Ingles straddled two cultures before and after the birth of the United States. Born to a pioneer Virginia couple, William and Mary Ingles, Thomas was captured along with his mother in a frontier raid at the age of four, and was given to a Shawnee family in present-day Ohio to be raised in place of their deceased child. Returning to his birth parents as a Shawnee man at the age of 17, Thomas received a Virginia gentleman's education and served in the Point Pleasant campaign of Dunmore's War in 1774--a conflict that pitted his Virginia and Shawnee communities against each other on the battlefield.

Portrayed by Doug Wood of Hurricane
304-550-1006
chingwe1755@gmail.com

 

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson
Doug Riley as Stonewall Jackson, with long beard and mustache and shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a full Confederate general's blue-gray battle uniform with hat, white gloves, his left hand resting on his sword's hilt in a scabbardBorn 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
304-290-9695
deriley1@frontier.com

 

Mother Jones
Karen Vuranch as Mother Jones, with black veiled hat, black early 1900s dress and broche, wearing spectacles, gray hair, and lips pursed in a slight grinThe family of Mary Harris "Mother" Jones immigrated to the US from Ireland hoping to escape famine and unemployment.  After marrying and moving to Memphis, a yellow fever epidemic killed her husband and all four children.  The great Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed her dress-making business and she spent the rest of her life helping organize unions, especially among coal miners.  She spoke at rallies throughout West Virginia supporting the United Mine Workers of America, and played an important role in strikes along the New River Gorge, Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, and during events before the Battle of Blair Mountain.

Portrayed by Karen Vuranch of Fayetteville
304-575-3636
karen@wventerprises.com

 

Frances Perkins

JoAnn Peterson as Frances Perkins, with reddish-brown hair and blue eyes seated with a pen in her hand, wearing a black dress with black and white buttons, a pearl necklace, and a black hatAs the first female Cabinet member and U.S. Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins had a far-reaching, lasting impact on American workers’ lives, and helped pave the way for women to enter the male-dominated world of national politics. Perkins started out as a young social reformer in New York City, but embarked on a more ambitious quest for change after witnessing the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911, which killed nearly 150 workers. As a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Cabinet in the 1930s and 1940s, Perkins relentlessly fought for and facilitated many of the New Deal programs which helped the nation weather the Great Depression. Known as the “Mother of Social Security,” Perkins’ legacy lives on through child labor laws, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, worker’s compensation, and workplace safety laws.

Portrayed by JoAnn Peterson of Fort Ashby
301-268-5116
joannfpeterson@gmail.com

 

Minnie Reed

Mary Dailey as a composite character, seated with brown hair and brown eyes singing, wearing a flowery blue smock and pink shirt with white stripes, with hands crossedMinnie Reed is a fictional “composite” character drawn from the lives, singing, and stories of several 20th century West Virginia folk singers, chiefly Maggie Hammons Parker, Sarah Workman, Phyllis Marks, and Kate Toney, as well as other Appalachian singers from Kentucky and North Carolina. These singers were not performers, nor did their music bring fame or fortune. For these women and their small mountain communities, music was an organic part of everyday life, and songs were passed down from generation to generation. The fictional setting is Minnie’s home in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, in 1972.

Portrayed by Mary Dailey of Alderson
304-645-0243
mdinwv@hotmail.com

 

 

Theodore Roosevelt

Gene Worthington as Theodore Roosevelt, wearing dark gray suit with light gray vest, gray ascot, and white dress shirt, spectacles, grayish-black mustache and thinning hair, with left hand on hip and right hand, with wedding band on ring finger, pointing away
THEODORE ROOSEVELT IS CURRENTLY ON A MEDICAL HIATUS. We expect to see him again soon! Please select another character for your event in the meantime, and we will update this page when Roosevelt returns.

 

 


Charles Schulz

James Froemel as Charles Schulz, with cardigan with light gray and dark gray diamond shapes, white dress shirt, spectacles, crew cut, curled hands with both thumbs pointing upSchulz 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. View an interview on YouTube.

Portrayed by James Froemel of Maidsville
304-290-7562
jamesfroemel@gmail.com

 

Bessie Smith

Doris Fields as Bessie Smith, Black woman with black hair, wearing fancy purple outfit fringed in white, both arms stretched out from the elbows, standing in front of a table with a red tablecloth and frame photo, in front of a burgundy stage curtain As the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s, Smith was the highest-paid Black performer of her day. Known as the “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre, her singing displayed a soulfully phrased, boldly delivered grasp of the blues. In addition, she was an all-around entertainer who danced, acted and performed comedy routines with her touring company. She was a staple of the “Chitlin’ Circuit” and throughout the Jim Crow South, and many of her tunes have been covered by various artists through the decades.

Portrayed by Doris Fields of Beckley
681-207-3873
ladie_d@hotmail.com

 

Harriet Tubman
Black and white image of Ilene Evans as Harriet Tubman, a Black woman wearing a light-colored dress and darker jacket with a smock on her head, standing on the edge of a stream with rocks in the background, looking upTubman 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. View an interview on YouTube.

Portrayed by Ilene Evans of Thomas
304-288-6255
ilene@vfte.org

 

Mark Twain

Doug Riley as Mark Twain, seated in white suit and vest with pocket watch fob and chain, with black bow tie in a white wicker chair, white hair, grayish-red mustache and eyebrows, holding a cigar in his right handMark 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
304-290-9695
deriley1@frontier.com

 

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