WHEELING, W.Va. – General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, the revered Confederate commander, will make a special appearance at West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) in downtown Wheeling at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.

The West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! Character, portrayed by Doug Riley of Tunnelton, W.Va., will discuss his experiences as a professor at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Va., battlefield expert and his deep religious faith that endured throughout his life. A reception will follow the program, which is free and open to the public.

Jackson was born in what is now Clarksburg, W.Va., in 1824. Orphaned before he was 8 years old, he went to live with his uncle Cummins in Jackson’s Mill, where he tended sheep and harvested wheat and corn. He entered West Point in 1842, and in spite of his poor childhood education, worked hard to graduate 17th in his class in 1846. In 1851 he became professor of artillery tactics and natural philosophy at VMI where he remained until April 21, 1861,  when he was ordered to go to Richmond as part of the cadet corp.

It was during the first Battle of Bull Run when Jackson assumed his nickname. Amidst the tumult of battle, Brigadier General Barnard E. Bee stated, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.”

The History Alive! program brings historical characters to life through portrayals by presenters who have conducted scholarly research on their character. The presentations consist of three parts, beginning with a monologue in which the character introduces the historical, social and political issues of the era, followed by the character initiating a discussion with the audience, allowing time for questions, debate and disagreements with the character. The program wraps up with the presenter breaking character to answer questions as a researcher.

The West Virginia Humanities Council program is being hosted by WVIH. The Humanities Council is a private, not-for-profit organization that has provided educational programs in the humanities for all West Virginians for more than 30 years.

For more information, contact Travis Henline, site manager at WVIH, at (304) 238-1300 or email him at

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market streets in Wheeling.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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