In 1820, Elihu Embree published his newspaper The Emancipator on Main Street, Jonesborough. The seven edition paper is the first publication dedicated solely to the cause of abolitionism. Embree passed away in December of 1820. Even though the paper was short-lived, The Emancipator had over 2,000 subscribers and its reach went all the way to Boston and Philadelphia. In spite of his abolitionist beliefs, Embree himself was an enslaver. Nancy was an enslaved woman owned by Elihu Embree, and her story will be shared at the Telford Ruritan Club on Saturday, September 10th in the original play entitled “Nancy.”
Written by Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance, “Nancy” follows a year in the woman’s life, from January 1820 when Elihu Embree wrote his will to January 1821 when his will was read before the Washington County court. In his will, Embree tried to free Nancy and her five children, but were his wishes carried out? What was Nancy feeling and thinking during this time? The play is based on primary research relying heavily on documents from the Washington County Archives. The role of Nancy will be performed by local actress Ubunibi-Afia Short. “Nancy” won an Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums and an Award for History in the Media from the East Tennessee Historical Society. The show has been performed twice in the region to sold-out crowds. Do not miss your chance to see this powerful performance. These performances were originally scheduled for June 25th, but they had to be postponed due to health reasons.
“It is an honor to bring the show to the stage at the Telford Ruritan Club,” Mason says. “The Heritage Alliance is all about making connections with our community, and we are so glad we can do that through Nancy’s story. We have performed this play in the Sarah Sevier Memorial Chapel at the Embree House Historic Farm and on a stair landing at Harris Hall at Washington College Academy. Nancy’s story can be shared just about anywhere. This time, we’re taking to the stage in the old, school auditorium. ”
There will be two performances on September 10th at 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm. The show is a fundraiser for the Telford Ruritan Club and the Heritage Alliance. The show will be performed onstage in the old Telford School located at 101 Telford School Road. Tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased directly through the Town of Jonesborough’s ticketing system at Jonesborough.com/tickets or by calling the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at 423.753.1010. Seating is limited to only 50 people per performance, so make sure you purchase your tickets in advance.
The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences. For more information, visit our website at heritageall.org or call our office at 423.753.9580.
The Telford Ruritan Club has been serving their community since 1961. They host a BBQ supper on the second Friday of every month. They support various organizations including Wreaths Across America, Tilted Tavern Animal Sanctuary, and St. Jude’s Second Harvest Food Bank. They maintain a Little Lending Library, a Community Produce Stand, and a roadside food pantry box at their site.