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Mark Twain’s history comes alive

By Staff | Sep 27, 2013

“Mark Twain” paid a visit to Shepherdstown for a “History Alive,” presentation sponsored by the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Friends of the Shepherdstown Library (FOSL).

Hosted at O’Hurley’s General Store, Doug Riley, a professional reenactor, played the legendary American writer for a packed house.

FOSL president and event organizer, Larry Blash said he was pleased with the events turn out.

“We filled O’Hurley’s with about 50 people,” he said.

Claiming to have arrived in Shepherdstown by railroad, Twain entertained the audience with real-life tales and anecdotes about his life, work and travels, offering a little bit of living history.

“It is historically accurate,” Blash said of the reenactment. “The stories he told are actually Twain’s stories.”

Coordinated by FOSL each year, the West Virginia Humanities Council project “History Alive,” is designed to offer people a unique way to view historical figures.

“FOSL does it as an educational public service,” Blash said of the group, who’ve coordinated a presentation in Shepherdstown for several years now.

In years past, presenters have included famous figures such as Babe Ruth, Edgar Allan Poe and Robert E. Lee, among others.

In what Blash described as a “serendipitous” turn of events, this year’s Twain presentation coincided with Banned Books week- a national effort to promote reading and curtail intellectual censorship.

Twain’s many works included iconic and somewhat controversial books like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

Blash said Twain was chosen as this year’s presentation, due to the popularity and lore that surrounds him.

“Everybody’s heard of Mark Twain,” Blash said.

According to Blash, FOSL’s next event will honor its own longstanding members and founders.

Called “Old FOSL’s Rock,” the event is scheduled to take place Nov. 8 at the Shepherdstown Community Club.

Blash said the group, which is now comprised of approximately 150 members, is seeking new membership all the time.

Those interested in learning about FOSL, can find more info at the Shepherdstown Library’s web site www.lib.shepherdstown.wv.us/, or by contacting Blash directly at 304-876-2924.