A Grand Convulsion in Society: Cameos of Civil War Women in Song and Story

Civil war enthusiasts are very familiar with the hardships of the men who fought and died on both sides in the American Civil War.  Less known are the challenges of the women who fought beside them disguised as fellow soldiers, simultaneously in fear for their lives and of being discovered to be the wrong sex for carrying a gun.


The seldom-told stories of those women of the American Civil War will come to life on the stage of the Pocahontas County Opera House during a special matinee performance on Sunday, October 5 at 2 p.m.

As part of the ongoing observation of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, singer-song writer Judith Avers and storyteller John Burt present a program drawn from the journals, letters and remembrances of women who lived it.

“A Grand Convulsion in Society: Cameos of Civil War Women in Song and Story” represent some of the lesser-known women and their many roles in the Civil War: socialites, spies, even women passing as men and fighting in the war.

The afternoon will be filled with surprises and an entirely different way to look at this pivotal chapter of American history–a time one Washington, D.C., matron described as “a grand convulsion in society.”

Born and raised in southwest Kansas, far removed from any sort of modern music scene, Judith Avers was spoon-fed country classics like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.  Like one of her heroes, Woody Guthrie, Avers has traveled around the United States, and is a familiar voice in Pocahontas, having appeared at the Opera House and at other festivals in the county.  A versatile poet, songwriter and singer,  she’s recorded six solo albums.  Avers is part of the Early Mays trio, which is now preparing to release its second album.

John Burt is a Pittsburgh native and studied history at Duquesne University and law at the University of Pittsburgh.  From January, 1998 to January, 2004, John served as part of the Commonwealth Speakers on Pennsylvania History and Culture through the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, lecturing on 19th century Pennsylvanians and the struggle against slavery and for women’s rights.  He’s spoken to over 100 historical societies and other groups.

Tickets are available in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.There is no admission charge for kids 17 and under.

 The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton. Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. More information is available at 304-799-6645.

 The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals, the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Pendleton Community Bank, the Law Office of Roger D. Forman and Brightside Acres.

Judith Avers website is www.judithavers.com

John Burt’s blogsite is www.musingwithclio.wordpress.com


Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

Current Weather