MATEWAN The Matewan Massacre Drama will take place this Saturday. The event is part of the Matewan Heritage Day.
The drama brings to life the shootout out between Baldwin-Felts agents and striking coal miners attempting to unionize.
Director of the drama, Donna Paterino says the drama re enactment has been running for more than two decades.
“The Matewan Massacre Reenactment group has been together for 23 years and we missed the one year due to COVID but this make 22 years,” Patterino told WVOW News.
Paterino says the group is made of volunteers eager to bring the history of the area to audiences, and spotlight the struggles of the labor movement in the coalfields
Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency was employed by the Stone Mountain Coal Company to evict families that had joined the union and living in company housing. The agency also intended to evict those forced to live in a tent city just outside the town.
On May nineteenth, 1920, Matewan Police Chief Sid Hatfield along with Mayor Cabell Testerman, both staunch supporters of the union, demanded to see warrants for the evictions. Unable to produce the documents, agents and their opposition engagd in a verbal conflicte before shots were fired.
When the smoke cleared, ten people were dead including Mayor Testerman and seven Baldwin-Felts agents.
Paterino enjoys sharing the history of Matewan with the next generation.
“It’s history,” Paterino said, “so many people want to change history. You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going. We just enjoy sharing this with young people. We still have groups, no matter how many times we have produced this show, there are people that have still not seen it.”
Two shows of the Matewan Massacre Reenactment Drama will take place in historic downtown Matewan Saturday, May twentieth at noon and 4 p.m.