Amelia Knisely Published

W.Va.'s Dramatic Suffrage Vote Told In New Play

This 1915 illustration by Henry Mayer of a torch-bearing female labeled "Votes for Women," symbolizes the awakening of the nation's women to the desire for suffrage, striding across the western states, where women already had the right to vote, toward the east where women are reaching out to her.

When Renate Pore looked into the state’s history ratifying the 19th amendment – which ultimately granted women the right to vote – she was surprised to learn what had gone on in 1920 in the West Virginia Legislature.

The story revolves around missing state Sen. Jesse Bloch of Wheeling, who had gone to California on vacation while the legislature was in a deadlocked vote on the amendment. Bloch returned to West Virginia to break the tie in favor of women’s voting rights.

West Virginia Sen. Jesse Bloch played a major role in the state legislature ratifying the 19th amendment.

“After I did all that research, I thought, ‘This would make a really fun play,’” Pore, 79, said.

She began looking into the story as the country was getting ready to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage, and after a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pore’s idea will come to the stage this weekend in Charleston. The show runs Oct. 14-15 and begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Culture Center.

Pore teamed up with West Virginia playwright Dan Kehde and director Susan Marsh-Minnerly.

“We hope we can make this story accessible, and we hope young people will come out and think about how important the right to vote is and how hard women (and some men, too) worked 100 years ago to make this happen in our country,” Pore said.

Tickets to the show are free.