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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Unsung Heroes of the American Revolution to be presented on April 28 by Joseph and Delores McDevitt in the Coolidge Theatre

In this picture, the McDevitts are attending an 18th century worship service during an American Revolutionary War reenactment. Dolores is dressed in her floral day dress and Joe is dressed as a British officer.
During the American Revolutionary War there were men whose efforts went unrecognized. While doing research, Dolores and Joseph “Joe” McDevitt of Birdsboro, Pa. realized there were also many female heroines who had not been recognized either. The roles of some women in the Revolutionary War “were traditional, others unconventional and even scandalous,” according to writer Rebecca Beatrice Brooks in a 2013 article.

On Friday, April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Coolidge Theatre at 104 Main Street in Wellsboro the McDevitts will talk about what they have learned. This will be the first show in the Deane Center’s 2017 History Comes Alive series.

During their program titled “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Unsung Heroes of the American Revolution, the McDevitts will take the audience on a journey through this time period with information about the roles men and women played in the American War for Independence and how their actions support the famous phrase found in the United States Declaration of Independence.

The couple will be dressed in attire authentic to 1775-1783, he as a soldier and she as a camp follower. Joe will open and close the show discussing what the words “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” mean and talking about Adam Smith, Edward Gibbons, King George and Thomas Paine. Three flags will be his backdrop - the first American flag, today’s American flag and the British flag.

Dolores will focus on 10 of the female patriots she has learned about – names not familiar to many people. They include Deborah Sampson, Sybil Ogden, Esther Reed, Anna Smith Strong, Penelope Barker, Catharine Barry, Anne Bailey, Margaret Corbin, Phyllis Peters and Mammy Kate. “They were independent women from different backgrounds who served in different ways. Some were soldiers and others were spies," Dolores said.

“Joe and I do not speak in the first person during our presentation. We talk about who these men and women were and what they did during this war. Each made their mark on history but unfortunately very little is known about most of the women. Their stories are at times humorous, at times sad and all reveal their love of country," she added.

In 1985, Joe became involved in a new hobby. “We went to a reenactment, talked to some people there and Joe decided to join the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment. It was organized in November 1775 at Philadelphia as a Continental Army regiment that fought at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. When his musket showed up in the mail I decided to get involved too,” Dolores said. "For 30 years, we participated in many of that regiment's reenactments."

A year and a half ago, just after both Joe and Dolores had retired, he was asked to do a presentation about the Revolutionary War. “By accident, I got involved, too,” she said. They did the research, gave the presentation and then began giving it at different venues in their area. “We’ve done different versions at least 20 times,” Joe said." “I have researched information about 40 women who were unsung and haven’t even scratched the surface yet,” Dolores said.

During the afternoon on April 28, the McDevitts will give a special presentation to students at Cowanesque Valley High School in Westfield.

Tickets are $15 for the 7 p.m. show. Children 12 and under accompanied by a paying adult will be admitted free. Being offered now through April 28 is a $50 ticket package for those interested in attending all four shows being presented during the History Comes Alive series. This represents a $10 savings.

For information or to purchase a ticket package or tickets for individual shows, call the Deane Center at 570-724-6220 or visit www.deanecenter.com.

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