Museum to present history lectures

PARKERSBURG – The Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History will present a series of historical lectures in February during its annual Winter Lecture Series.

The theme of the series is “A Journey Through Time” and features a mixture of living history re-enactors and speakers each Sunday at 2 p.m. from Feb. 3-24 at the museum at Second and Juliana streets.

The programs are free of charge, although donations will be accepted to help cover travel expenses for the presenters. Refreshments will be served.

Due to limited space, reservations are required by Feb. 1. More information is available by calling 304-420-4800 or online at

The lecture series is made possible by Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park and Museum, the Blennerhassett Historical Foundation Inc. and the Friends of Blennerhassett.

“We are able to offer this Winter Lecture Series free of charge due to the resources available from the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive program and funding from the Friends of Blennerhassett,” said Pam Salisbury, events coordinator for the park and museum.

* The first program in the series on Feb. 3 will be “Harriet Tubman: Behind Enemy Lines – Civil War 1863” featuring re-enactor Ilene Evans.

Tubman was born into slavery in Maryland but escaped to freedom in 1849 through the Underground Railroad. She became the most famous leader of that network, aiding slaves in their escapes to both free states and Canada.

When the Civil War erupted, her Underground experiences and knowledge of covert operations made her an invaluable resource to federal officers.

Operating through that long conflict as spy, nurse, scout and guide for Union troops, she was present at the ill-fated Union assault of South Carolina’s Fort Wagner.

Evans also opened last year’s lecture series with a presentation about Tubman. This year’s program will be a continuation of Tubman’s history from that point through the Civil War, Salisbury said.

* The next program, on Feb. 10, will be “Outacite Ostenaco: Cherokee Leader (ca. 1703-1780)” featuring re-enactor Doug Wood.

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 allliance for the British colonial settlements in much of present West Virginia. His influence contributed to the expansion of English-speaking people into the Mountain State.

* The Feb. 17 program is called “The Lost Islands of Wood County” and will feature Marietta historian Louise Zimmer, speaking about the history and events that occurred on and centered around the eight islands on the Ohio River that fall within Wood County, from prehistory to the modern era.

* The final program of the 2013 Winter Lecture Series will be Feb. 24 and will feature music educator Hank Arbaugh presenting “The Appalachian Experience: A Talk Embellished by Music and Interaction.”

For more than 50 years, Arbaugh has been studying and performing the music and lore of the European settlers in Appalachia, primarily those from the United Kingdom. His program discusses the history of the ballads and songs, their origins, sources, musical styles, old world beliefs and legendary figures. He plays several string instruments and during his talk will invited the audience to participate in the Appalachian learning experience and its oral traditions.