‘Liberty’s Task’ to be performed at Old Albany Days
Local performers will portray Albany’s roles the Bleeding Kansas conflict and the Underground Railroad in a historical pageant at Old Albany Days.
Old Albany Days is an opportunity for attendees to take a look into the past with demonstrations of metal casting, corn shelling and grinding wool spinning, rug weaving, threshing apple cider pressing, soap making, basket weaving, trapping, blacksmithing and Dutch oven cooking.
This year, the Albany Historical Society invites attendees to take an even deeper look into the past with a pageant portraying events in history.
The Pageant will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Albany Museum.
“Liberty’s Task” focuses on Albany’s roles in the Bleeding Kansas conflict and the Underground Railroad.
The story focuses on different voices and viewpoints from that time including:
• William Slosson, who was one of Albany’s founders. Slosson, played by Rick Huffman, risked his life and property helping slaves flee on the Underground Railroad.
• Peter Chapman, a fictional character, who is a fugitive slave catcher and border ruffian. Chapman will be played by Zach Goodman.
• Moses Fately, a resident of Nemaha County, Kan., who purchased his own freedom and then worked hard to earn enough to purchase his family. Fately, played by Walter Nelson, owned a farm somewhere between Albany and Capioma.
• Miss Elizabeth Thaine, a fictional character, who is a schoolteacher roughly representing Albany’s first schoolteacher, Emily Collins. Thaine is played by Brandi McCoy.
The pageant will be narrated by B.J. Burenheide, who is a history professor at Kansas State University.
Other cast members include Albany school children who will be played by the Woodlawn Meadowlarks 4-H Club members.
Live action scenes will be provided by several Albany volunteers.
In addition to a dramatic story, the pageant will include live action with Border Ruffians, Albany and surrounding area history and the start of the Civil War.
About the pageant
This is the Albany Historical Society’s second pageant to be performed during Old Albany Days.
Committee member Dort Goodman decided this year, to include a play about the position Kansas played in the conflict of becoming a freedom versus slave state.
David McCoy, head of the committee, said that Albany was founded by northern abolitionists who wanted to make Kansas a free state. The south wanted Kansas to be a slave state.
“This resulted in turmoil and bloodshed very similar to what we are seeing today a 160-some years later,” D. McCoy said.
As the old adage states, “those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.”
The American Civil War was one of the bloodiest and most tragic wars we ever encountered, D. McCoy said.
“Over 600,000 men, women and children died in it,” he said. “It was the last war fought on American soil and it needs to stay the last one. As our flag salute states, ‘one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,’ that means everyone. Jesus said the second greatest commandment is, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Your neighbor is everyone.”
D. McCoy said he hopes the pageant conveys to attendees, “think about that second commandment.”
“Some may think the pageant is a play,” D. McCoy said. “But, in a historical pageant you get to use real props such as horses, machinery, wagons and cannons. The firing of a full-scale civil war cannon in the school auditorium seems to upset people.”
McCoy said the biggest challenge with a pageant is the work that it takes, along with getting enough volunteers.
“Our first pageant wouldn’t hold a candle to this one,” he said.
The first one was performed in 2016, and told the story of how Albany was founded.
It covered the time period of 1856-1870, with scenes of the first settlers coming, the underground railroad, John Brown, the importance of water and the moving of buildings to Sabetha when the railroad bypassed Albany.
About the cast
Huffman, Z. Goodman and B. McCoy were involved in several Sabetha High School plays and productions and also played roles in collegiate productions and community theatre.
Shankar, photographer and videographer, is originally from Sri Lanka, and is currently employed at Extru-Tech.
He compiled short character trailers on each of the characters, which can be viewed at the following links:
• Or by searching YouTube for “Albany KS Historical Society”
Shankar will be recording the pageant and hopes to offer a DVD for sale.