BEVERLY, W.Va. – This Juneteenth, the Beverly Heritage Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their history exhibit which focuses on African Americans in Randolph County.
Asked to cut the ribbon in the ceremony was Kathy Lynne Marshall, the descendant of a woman named Margaret Booker who was enslaved in Beverly. Marshall learned of her relative in 1983 from her family’s historian.
“Well how is that possible, she lived in Beverly, she was enslaved in Beverly, yet she took her five children away during the middle of civil war fighting. I had to find out more,” said Marshall, author of The Mysteries of Margaret Booker.
Marshall learned more about her family when she saw a streamed presentation by the Beverly Heritage Center.
“And I happened to see one where he has put a woman named Margaret on a slide in his presentation, and that’s the name of my great great great grandmother Margaret Booker. And that’s her, it’s the bill of sale, it’s who her owners were,” said Marshall.
Marshall flew from California for the opening of the African American History Exhibit. The Beverly Heritage Center’s executive director said the interpretive panels are filled with oral history from people who have been in the area.
“In the case of Miss Marshall, whose ancestors lived in Randolph County, and so we include direct quotes from them in this exhibit as a way for people to connect with them. Above all else, we wanted this to show the agency of African Americans in this community, and for this to be a chance for their voices to be heard,” said Christopher Mielke, Beverly Heritage Center executive director.
Many artifacts are featured in the exhibit, one of which is a “Slave Price List” from 1853 with 8 people listed from ages one to 60 years old.
Admission to the new exhibit was free only for the opening day. The cost to enter is $5 for anyone 13 or older. Admission collected through the exhibit will fund restorations needed by the heritage center. The Randolph County African American History Exhibit at the Beverly Heritage Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, and will be closed Monday.