Living Democracy

Storyteller, musician draw crowd to Cricket Theatre

Downtown Collinsville was packed Friday, July 12, with people all headed to the Cricket Theatre. About 80 people made their way to their seats to enjoy a 90-minute presentation from storyteller Dolores Hydock.

Hydock, accompanied by musician Bobby Horton, entertained the audience with “Starch in their Petticoats: True Stories of Strong Women who Settled the West.” These stories were told through journal entries, newspaper clippings, and song.

Horton, who is known for his work on multiple Ken Burns documentaries, sang unique songs for each woman’s story. Additionally, he led the audience in sing-alongs multiple times.

Audience members included long-time residents of Collinsville, but also included visitors who traveled to attend the event. Folks from Mentone, Attalla, Huntsville, and even Rome, Georgia, traveled to hear Hydock and Horton.

Tim White, who traveled from Rome, Georgia, said the performance was “quite a unique experience learning about the trials and tribulations about women who made their way West.”

The stories Hydock shared all took place during the 1850s and 1860s. She began with the story of Margaret Frank, who traveled from Ohio to California with her husband. The journey took them five months, and when they arrived in Sacramento City, they opened a hotel before becoming dairy farmers.

Another woman Hydock shared about was Eleanor Pruitt, a widow and mother, who went out West looking for land to call her own. She moved to Wyoming where she fell in love with a Scotsman named Claude Stewart. The two were married, but Eleanor kept the land in her name.

Horton sprinkled in musical elements during, and in between, each story. He performed songs on the guitar, fiddle, and banjo for the crowd.

Hydock also entertained the crowd with stories of couples who met through personal ads in the “Matrimonial News.” This newspaper was responsible for thousands of marriages, and many of the advertisements were enjoyable to read.

The final woman whose story was shared was Ada Isaacs Maken. She was a woman who became an actor, and she was well-known around the country. She sent photographs to towns ahead of her arrival.

Maken was married and divorced four times within seven years and only lived into her 30s. However short her life, her adventures took her to Europe and around the country, and she died knowing she had lived a full life.

Hydock and Horton received roaring applause at the conclusion of their presentation, and many audience members spoke to them after the performance.

This event was sponsored by the Collinsville Historical Association, the Collinsville Public Library, and Auburn University.

More information about Dolores Hydock can be found at http://www.storypower.org/ and Bobby Horton at https://www.bobbyhorton.com/.

Last Updated: July 15, 2019