The ancestral homestead of one of Virginia’s most prominent pioneers, a museum, a park and other sites that feature exhibits on her life will be part of the Mary Draper Ingles Weekend Celebration this weekend.
Visitors will get a glimpse of late 1700s rural life in southwest Virginia at Ingles Farm, where Mary lived out her life along the New River. The property, which is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, remains a working farm run by descendant Col. Lewis Ingles “Bud” Jeffries and includes a replica of the original cabin, livestock, graveyard and remnants of a ferry site.
Storytellers will be there to share information on Mary’s famous capture by a party of Shawnee Indians and her escape and trek over hundreds of miles back to the New River Valley. They’ll also provide information on the area’s important role as a trade and commerce center in the early westward expansion of America. The farm, located at 9 Wilderness Road near Exit #105 off I-81, will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.
Glencoe Mansion, Museum and Gallery and the Radford Visitor’s Center are located at 600 Unruh Drive and will be open both today from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and tomorrow from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Visitors to the facility can learn more about Mary Draper Ingles through displays, artwork and a video. Books, commemorative prints by acclaimed artist P. Buckley Moss and other souvenirs will be available in the gift shop.
As part of the weekend, Glencoe Mansion will provide living history demonstrations that cover both the 18th and 19th centuries and include a display of children’s toys and a look at how women supported life in Colonial days through such activities as weaving. Reenactors from the 51st Virginia Infantry will provide an encampment on the mansion grounds today.
Visitors also will want to tour the Mary Draper Ingles Cultural Heritage Park that includes a bronze statue of the heroine and four modern sculptures honoring her epic journey. The park is adjacent to Glencoe and overlooks the New River.
Radford tourism director Deborah Cooney says the Mary Draper Ingles Cultural Heritage Committee coordinated efforts to provide a weekend that gives an overview of a special frontierswoman, life in the region and the development of Radford during these two centuries. “It’s a varied menu, and one we hope prompts visitors to delve deeper into the fascinating stories of our early American history,” says Cooney.
Mary has been the subject of many books, several movies and an outdoor drama and is one of 12 women to be honored in a future monument on Virginia’s Capitol Grounds in Richmond. A new play on her life premieres in late June.
Other points of interest in Radford include:
• Obelisk at Westview Cemetery, 1500 Fifth St. featuring stones from Mary’s original cabin.
• Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit, ‘An Epic Journey’ at the Mary Draper Ingles Cultural Heritage Park, 601 Unruh Drive.
• Mural, ‘The Return of Mary Draper Ingles’ by Alexander B. Clayton, Radford Post Office, 901 W. Main St.
Brochures with Mary-related site information will be available at Ingles Farm and the Radford Visitor’s Center. For additional information, contact the Radford Visitor’s Center or Glencoe Mansion, Museum and Gallery: 267-3153 or 731-5031; www.VisitRadford.com
— Submitted by Deb Cooney