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Buffalo Heritage Days to be held this weekend

By Clint Thomas, Metro Reporter
Doug Wood of Hurricane as frontiersman Gabriel Arthur. Courtesy photo
Doug Wood will present a History Alive! program on Cherokee leader Ostenaco on Friday morning during Buffalo Heritage Days. Photo courtesy W.Va. Department of Commerce

In celebration of the Town of Buffalo’s rich history that dates to the late 17th century, the annual Buffalo Heritage Days will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 12, and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 13 at the Buffalo Academy in the Buffalo Historic Square.

The free activities during the two-day, historical homage include:

• Gabriel Arthur, a 17th century frontiersman who explored Putnam County, will be portrayed by Doug Wood of Hurricane in a West Virginia Humanities Council History Alive! program at the Buffalo Academy from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday.

• Wood will also portray Cherokee leader Ostenaco in a separate History Alive! program on Friday, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Buffalo Academy.

The Buffalo Historical Society will sponsor both appearances.

For more than 35 years, Wood has researched historical figures throughout West Virginia and told their stories through historical reenactments for History Alive!, presenting his program throughout the Mountain State. “I love seeing people’s eyes really open when they learn something they never knew. That makes all the work that goes into this job worthwhile,” Wood said in a November 2016 Putnam Review article.

Arthur is regarded by many as the first white man to see the Kanawha Valley. He hiked through Putnam County on an assignment to explore western lands and trade with Native Americans in 1674. Delving into artifacts that connected Arthur with tribes he met in West Virginia, spurred Wood’s interest in the frontiersman’s life.

Funded by a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council, Wood began researching the life and times of Ostenaco, as well.

“That’s an exciting part of my job, finding new nuances of history and piecing them together to figure out what went on,” Wood said in the article.

Arthur told his employer, Abraham Wood, about his journey throughout the state. Abraham Wood’s account of Arthur’s journey is the first written document to describe the area now known as Putnam County.

“That record is the beginning of Putnam County’s history,” Doug Wood said.

Other onsite activities during Buffalo Heritage Days will include:

• Field Soap Making: Linda Smith Meadows of Cross Lanes

• Blacksmith: Rick Pennington

• Flint Knapping: Bob Waldon of Poca

• Basket Making: Reed Family Baskets from Buffalo

• Quilting: Women of Buffalo United Methodist Church

• Coopering: (Wooden Bucket Making): Joe Smith

• Buffalo Academy Reunion: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Leah Higginbotham of Buffalo is helping organize this week’s Buffalo Heritage Days event, which has been held in the town yearly since the early 1990s.

“I’ve been involved with it for many years,” said Higginbotham, who is the chairperson and treasurer of the Buffalo Historical Society. “This is an event sponsored by the Historical Society and the town. We want to, more or less, keep history alive for the kids.”

As well as recounting Buffalo’s earliest history, Heritage Days will feature living history with the Buffalo Academy Reunion on Saturday afternoon, Higginbotham said.

“We have people who attended the academy; it was used as Buffalo Elementary for years until it closed in the early Fifties. There are several folks around, older folks, who went to school there, and we wanted to have a little reunion for them. We’ll have cake and coffee and encourage them to come and sit around and tell stories and reminisce about their days there. There are some lengthy discussions about how the town used to be. They can tell some pretty good tales,” she said.

The Buffalo Historical Society meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month, usually at the Buffalo Academy. Since the facility is unheated, the group sometimes meets at Buffalo Town Hall on Thursday evenings, instead, during winter months and inclement weather conditions, Higginbotham said.

For additional information about Buffalo Heritage Days or the Buffalo Historical Society, call Leah Higginbotham at 304-541-0705.


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