by Sarah Collins Honenberger
Sunday afternoon story-telling is a tradition in Daisy Howard-Douglas’ family, one she fell in love with listening to her father as a child. Beyond the Louisiana of her childhood and her married life in Richmond and the Northern Neck, she combines her interest in history and her dramatic talents for public story-telling as a way to celebrate her ancestors.
The founder of the Westmoreland Weavers of the Word Storytellers Guild will appear at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 12, at the Tappahannock Artists’ Guild’s gallery, 200 Prince Street, Tappahannock.
Now retired from elementary school teaching, the Sandy Point resident researches, composes and performs stories in costume, taking on the personalities of intriguing characters from history, most often African American history. Her interest was inspired by the sense of community between generations she experienced as a child in the island village of Morgan City, La.
It was also in Louisiana that she met her husband James Douglas, a former Menhaden waterman from Reedsville, newly trained as a steel rodman for bridge and tunnel construction. Married over 50 years now, she shares her research into his family history as a descendant of two 1830 Westmoreland residents, Mitchell Wilson and Sallie Elizabeth Crabbe.
After undergraduate and master’s degrees in education, Miss Daisy, as she is known, honed her writing skills at the Hartford Connecticut Institute of Writers. In addition to composing her presentations, she has preserved her research in 12 books. They will be available for purchase at the February 12 event.
She will share the experiences of a Buffalo Soldier from the Civil War era. Westmoreland County boasts three Buffalo Soldiers. These African American regiments received their nickname when Native Americans saw them in buffalo coats and caps. From 1866 on, Buffalo Soldiers served in 10 major wars and conflicts.
Miss Daisy uses a variety of sources for her research.
“I talked to the grandson and other descendants. On rainy days he explored his grandfather’s attic trunk and played with the medals, swords and boots,” said Miss Daisy. “He told me his grandfather’s stories.”
Her persona will be a Missouri-born slave woman who served with the cavalry.
“She changed her name and posed as a man. I wear a costume and talk as if I am her,” said Miss Daisy.