The Friends of Greenlawn presented ‘The Story of Us III -The Brave Ones’ on last Saturday and Sunday evening. This years theme focused more on the women of Portsmouth and their strength and endurance during the women’s movement. Directed by Linda Tieman, folks were embedded within the lives of the women who persevered even when times were tough.
Amanda Pursell (Mary Baughman) was a charter member of the Ladies Aid Society of Bigalow Church. Pursell’s husband died right before the war in which she had been so committed to having her family fight for the women. She established the first memorial /decoration day parade where our war heroes were honored, which continues today in Portsmouth on Memorial Day. She fought to get Soldier’s Circle and the chapel at Greenlawn Cemetery constructed for funerals. Baughman portrayed the character Pursell as a very strong woman with strong convictions about women’s rights and help for the children especially in the schools.
Joy Durant’s role was the widow at Potter’s Field. Durant was at the side of her husband’s coffin and was sobbing and speaking to him about the loss of their children and then the final blow, the loss of him. Potter’s Field is found in the middle of Greenlawn Cemetery with several trees but few grave markers or tombstones. The widow said those families did not want people to know they were so poor that they had to bury their loved ones there.
Another scene depicted the start of women wearing trousers in the workplace, and how they were paid far less than men. In 1904, a toy pistol factory caught fire at the corner of Jefferson and 2nd Street. Women working in the factory jumped through the second and third floor windows to escape the smoke and noise from over 5,000 pistol caps going off.
In 1921, the Sisters of Saint Francis opened Mercy Hospital. Sisters arrived in Portsmouth worried they could not do it so they prayed. The conductor at the train station, portrayed by Cole Tackett, spoke to these nurses with encouragement and excitement that these ladies were going to build the hospital. They also opened the Mercy School of Nursing to train others to provide care for residents of Portsmouth.
Another of the interest was that of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement trying to get the Laubly family (Ryan and Jessica Powell with two children) to close down their saloon. Mrs. John Peebles (Heather Cate) sang outside the establishment and prayed for the men who she said spent their paychecks on liquor inside. The scene showed what families had to go through if they had businesses that were not acceptable by others.
Not to be left out the women of the Suffrage Movement who were giving a push forward to get a children’s home for those children in Portsmouth who had lost their families and had nowhere to go. They spoke on how they would ever be able to build one, but one of them spoke about a vacant lot that was underdeveloped, where they could build such a home on the edge of Greenlawn Cemetery, which would be available and affordable, even if it was in a cemetery.
A young lady, Louisana Moore-Ricker (Sandy Sturgill Dutiel), gave the audience some recall of things happening during this time through her journal entries. Her father was Captain William Moore. She spoke of the steamboat tragedies that had happened on the rivers. Captain William Moore (Jason Chaney), spoke as Moore on his steamboats and things.
There were still figures during the tour dressed fully in costume and set up to give an even clearer image of the way things were during ‘The Brave Ones’ time period. The scenes were realistic and the actors brought the adventure to life as you traveled in the era.
You could see the amount of work and all the many people who helped make this a success. The tour guides, the director, the Friends of Greenlawn and all those who help with this show were people volunteering their time and hardwork. This is the third year for the presentation and they plan to do it again next year.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928
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