Published On: Fri, Mar 21st, 2014

Mystery at the Museum: Is this Nancy Hart?

By Toni Ogden

Charcoal Portrait of Nancy Hart.jpegNancy Hart Photograph bw

 

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Greenbrier Historical Society is currently hosting “History Heroines: A Women’s History Exhibit” which celebrates eight Greenbrier area heroines from the Pioneer days to the 1970’s.

Sometimes research into the past brings up as many questions as answers. Maybe someone in the community can help us with a little puzzle regarding a charcoal portrait thought to be Nancy Hart. Nancy rode with the Moccasin Rangers during the Civil War, and served as a spy, a nurse and a scout for General Stonewall Jackson’s Brigade. An expert shot and horsewoman, she led Jackson’s cavalry on many raids against Union troops. Nancy and her husband also lived for a time in northern Greenbrier County.

The only confirmed likeness of Nancy Hart was made at the age of 20 when she was a prisoner of the Union Army and forced to pose for the photographer. A number of years ago, however, this charcoal portrait turned up at an estate sale in Parkersburg and came with the story that the woman in the drawing was an older Nancy Hart. The portrait made its way to Greenbrier County and is currently on loan for the Greenbrier Historical Society’s “History Heroine’s” exhibit. With permission of the current owners, we are asking the public if you have any idea who this woman is or if you have seen other images of Nancy Hart. Are these both portraits of the famed Confederate spy?

“History Heroines” will continue at North House Museum through the 7th of April, and will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibit is open free to the public, but donations are gratefully accepted.

If anyone has information or ideas about the identity of the woman in the charcoal portrait, please contact North House at 304-645-3398 or museum@greenbrierhistorical.org.