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National Women’s History Month is being marked by West Virginia Northern Community College’s three campuses with special Lunch & Learn presentations featuring the story of “Mad” Anne Bailey, legendary frontierswoman in the Great Kanawha Valley.
Bailey will be portrayed by living history performer Patty Sue Cooper. All performances, which are free and open to the public, will be held at noon with a light lunch served at 11:30 a.m. Dates are Tuesday, March 24, in the Student Union, located on the second floor above the Barnes & Noble bookstore on the Wheeling campus, 1704 Market St.; Wednesday, March 25, in Room 115, Weirton campus, 150 Park Ave.; and Thursday, March 26, Room 110, New Martinsville campus, 141 Main St.
The public is invited to attend, along with Northern students and staff. However, all those wishing to attend must RSVP to Program Coordinator Ida Williams by Monday, March 23, at either firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 304-214-8917. Please remember to specify attendance date and location with the RSVP. Parking is available in the Barnes & Noble lot and in lots adjacent to the Weirton and New Martinsville campuses.
According to information provided by the living history performer, “The story of Anne Bailey’s life is interwoven with local folklore but her place as a pioneer heroine is unquestioned. In 1791 what is today West Virginia was largely unsettled wilderness in the middle of a frontier war between would-be settlers and local Indian tribes. When Fort Lee was threatened with attack and a low supply of ammunition, Anne Bailey, scout and messenger, rode alone through 100 miles of near wilderness to Fort Savannah at Lewisburg and returned with the needed powder to save the fort at Clendenin’s Settlement which today is Charleston, West Virginia.”
Bailey’s first husband was killed in a battle with the forces of the Shawnee leader Cornstalk, and “this event changed Anne’s life completely.” She left her son in the care of others “and became a skilled frontier scout, horsewoman, hunter, messenger and storyteller, wearing buckskins, carrying hatchet, knife and long rifle.” It is said she could handle a horse, hatchet and long rifle as well as any man. The 1861 poem “Anne Bailey’s Ride” commemorates her heroic 1791 journey.
Cooper has an associate in applied science degree and has worked as a historical interpreter on Blennerhassett Island State Park in Parkersburg. She has lectured, taught and given workshops and demonstrations at fairs and festivals on antique needlework, tools and rug hooking. She is a member of Pioneer Fibercrafters Guild, the Daughters of American Pioneers, Wood County Historical Society and has been a Wood County 4H leader.
The program has been made possible by a grant through the Diversity for Equity program of the Higher Education Policy Commission and the Community and Technical College System in West Virginia.