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Women’s Monument to feature Ingles statue

Courtesy photo
The latest statues to be commissioned for Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument are, from left, Laura Copenhaver, Mary Draper Ingles and Elizabeth Keckly.

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

The story of Mary Draper Ingles’ capture, escape and long trek back to her home is well-known in her native New River Valley, but it will soon be memorialized outside the region.

A bronze depiction of Ingles is one of three new statues commissioned for display in “Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument.” The monument, on Capitol Square in Richmond, was created to recognize women who made significant, but often unrecognized, contributions in Virginia’s history.

“As a society, we have a responsibility to ensure that women’s stories are embedded into the narrative of Virginia history,” says Mary Margaret Whipple, vice chair of the Women’s Monument Commission. “The Virginia Women’s Monument will provide a unique opportunity to explore and experience the powerful role that these female trailblazers played in the past, serving as an inspiration for current and future generations to find their own voice.”

Ingles was captured by Shawnee Indians in 1755 and taken to Ohio, where she was forced to sew shirts for male tribe members. She eventually escaped and made her way across 500-600 miles of rugged, mountainous landscape to return home to Draper’s Meadow, now Blacksburg.

Ingles’ story was told locally for years through the outdoor drama “The Long Way Home.” The drama was revived a couple of years ago as “Walk to Freedom,” which is performed multiple times each summer. A bronze statue of Ingles also can be found in Radford.

When artists complete the recently commissioned statues of Ingles, Laura Copenhaver and Elizabeth Keckly, seven of 12 total statues to grace the women’s monument will be complete. The first four are of Cockacoeske, Anne Burras Laydon, Virginia Randolph and Adèle Clark.

The monument also includes a Wall of Honor, which will be inscribed with the names of 230 women who helped shape the Commonwealth. There is plenty of room for additional names to be added in the future.

Before a statue can be sculpted for the monument, a $200,000 financial investment is required. Monument officials expect most of the statues, created by StudioEIS in New York, to be in place in time for the Oct. 14 formal dedication of Voices from the Garden.

“No other state in the country has recognized women’s contributions in such an engaging and compelling manner. We appreciate the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations that are making this monument possible,” said Susan Clarke Schaar, a member of the Women’s Monument Commission and clerk of Virginia Senate.

To make a contribution to the monument or learn more about the project and the women recognized with statues, visit www.virginiacapitol.gov. Those who wish to make a contribution to a particular statue may do so through at note in the “Additional Comments” box.

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