Museum to host statehood event

NEW CUMBERLAND – A Hancock County exhibit on the sesquicentennial of West Virginia culminates on Saturday with a visit from Mary Lincoln.

The exhibit, “Born of Rebellion: West Virginia Statehood,” is free and open to the public this week by appointment and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Hancock County Historical Museum, 1008 Ridge Ave., New Cumberland.

“It takes you through the process of West Virginia becoming a state, from the time of its secession from Virginia until we actually became a state,” said Janet Keller, vice president of the Hancock County Historical Museum Commission. “We’ve had an excellent response so far.”

The exhibit opened on Oct. 5 in the museum’s main exhibit room. It follows the story of West Virginia’s statehood in chronological order and concludes with an opportunity for visitors to vote on whether West Virginia should become a state.

West Virginia became the 35th state in the Union on June 20, 1863.

Keller said the exhibit should be of particular interest to eighth-graders, who spend the school year studying West Virginia history, geography and government. At the end of the year, students have an opportunity to take a test and compete for the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Award.

Some teachers in Hancock County are offering their students extra credit if they view the “Born of Rebellion” exhibit, Keller said.

“When the eighth-graders come, their parents come too, so there’s sort of a double benefit to it,” Keller said. “Many of the parents are not from West Virginia, and even if they are, they have maybe forgotten this information or the intricacies of the statehood process. It was a very complicated matter.”

The exhibit will conclude on Saturday with a visit from Mary Lincoln, played by JoAnn Peterson, of Kingwood, a presenter with the West Virginia Humanities Council’s “History Alive!” program.

Lincoln (Peterson) will give talks at the museum at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Union and Confederate re-enactors will camp on the museum grounds all day, and tours will be available between Lincoln’s performances.

In addition to playing Mary Lincoln, Peterson acts and sings professionally, writes and directs murder mystery plays, and is the owner of Mountaineer Country Tours.

To make an appointment to see the “Born of Rebellion” exhibit, call Keller at 304-387-0354 or Vivian Weigel at 304-224-1605.

(Huba can be contacted at