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Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born as a slave to owner John Van Lew, a wealthy hardware merchant. His daughter, Elizabeth Van Lew, and her mother freed her father’s slaves after his death in 1843. After the war began, Elizabeth Van Lew asked Mary to help her in the elaborate spying system she had established in the Confederate capitol. Despite Elizabeth being a staunch abolitionist and loyal to the Union, she was a prominent member of Richmond because of her father’s wealth and status. But her views and actions (attending to Union soldiers at Libby Prison with food and medicine, in particular) earned her the enmity of her community. Elizabeth used this to her advantage — taking on a slightly crazy, muttering, slovenly personae that earned her the nickname “Crazy Bet” — to cover up her serious efforts to help the Union.

Ticket price includes a menu choice of one of the following selections:

Seared Salmon: Seasoned seared salmon steak.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin: Sliced beef tenderloin with Cabernet wine reduction.

History Dinner Theater allows visitors to dine on a gourmet three-course meal of their chosing while they are regaled by the historic tales, music, poetry and personal accounts of some of the most fascinating historic figures in the United States. 

Tickets an be reserved by mail, online or by phone at 724.805.2188. 


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