RICHMOND, Va. -- Statues of Laura Copenhaver, Mary Draper Ingles, and Elizabeth Keckly will soon be added to the Virginia Women’s Monument outside the Virginia State Capitol. The Virginia Capitol Foundation announced recently bronze statues of the woman have been fully funded and commissioned.
"As a society, we have a responsibility to ensure that women’s stories are embedded into the narrative of Virginia history," Mary Margaret Whipple, vice chair of the Women’s Monument Commission, said. "The Virginia Women’s Monument will provide a unique opportunity to explore and experience the powerful role that these female trailblazers played in the past, serving as an inspiration for current and future generations to find their own voice."
Statues of Cockacoeske, Anne Burras Laydon, Virginia Randolph, and Adèle Clark were commissioned last year. Upon completion, the monument will feature bronze statues of 12 women and a Wall of Honor inscribed with the names of 230 women.
"The Virginia Women’s Monument is the nation’s first monument created to showcase the remarkable women who made significant, but often unrecognized, contributions in a variety of fields and endeavors over the 400-year history of Virginia," a Virginia Capitol Foundation spokesperson said. "[The Virginia Women’s Monument] will help tell the whole story about the diversity of achievement, ethnicity and thought that has shaped the Commonwealth."
Each statue requires a $200,000 financial investment before they can be sculpted. The remaining five statues are partially funded and will be commissioned as contributions become available.
“We are so excited that more than half of the statues in the Virginia Women’s Monument have been commissioned and it won’t be long before these remarkable women take their rightful place on Capitol Square,” Susan Clarke Schaar, Clerk of the Senate and a member of the Women’s Monument Commission, said. “No other state in the country has recognized women’s contributions in such an engaging and compelling manner. We appreciate the generous support of individuals, corporations and foundations that are making this monument possible.”
A formal dedication of the Virginia Women’s Monument is scheduled for October 14, 2019. Most of the bronze statues were expected to be installed by that time.
Laura Copenhaver: An entrepreneur from Smyth County in Southwest Virginia, Copenhaver was an early leader within the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. Working from her home, Rosemont, she coordinated the production of coverlets, rugs and other household items that were made with wool from area farms and crafted by local women. Rosemont’s popular textiles attracted customers from throughout the U.S., as well as Asia, Europe and South America. The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation recently made a contribution of $100,000 to support Copenhaver’s statue, and Altria Group contributed $50,000.
Mary Draper Ingles: One of Virginia’s most famous frontierswomen, Mary Draper Ingles lived in Draper’s Meadow (now Blacksburg). In 1755, she was captured by Shawnee Indians and taken to Ohio where she was forced to sew shirts for the men of the tribe. She eventually escaped and traveled 500 or 600 miles back to her home, much of it by walking across the rugged, mountainous landscape. Her brave, inspiring story is still shared and reenacted to this day.
Elizabeth Keckly: Born enslaved in Dinwiddie County, Va., Elizabeth Keckly was a talented seamstress who bought her freedom in 1855 with the help of her patrons. After moving to Washington, D.C., she developed a clientele of prominent women and came to the attention of Mary Todd Lincoln, eventually becoming the First Lady’s personal dressmaker and confidante. She wrote a book of her experiences in the White House. In the 1890s, she taught sewing and domestic arts at Wilberforce University in Ohio. Keckly died at the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in Washington, D.C., an entity that she helped establish.
For more information or to make a contribution to the Virginia Women’s Monument, click here.