WARREN - Despite heavy rains at times, nearly 340 people braved the storm Thursday to hear the story of Margaret Blennerhassett, who along with her wealthy husband, Harman, lived a life filled with both leisure and tragedy at an island mansion near Marietta.
The five-day Ohio Chautauqua of living history marked its third night in Warren as Debra Conner in the character of Blennerhassett told of life on the island mansion, which today is a state park.
Blennerhassett, a native of England, told of her and her husband's journey along the Ohio River to find a place to build their home. The couple found that paradise on an island.
''It was our paradise,'' she said, indicating they lived on the island from 1798 to 1806 with the mansion constructed in 1800.
Blennerhassett lived a life of leisure, riding horses and holding many parties while also helping others because of her wealth, which included purchasing needed medicine for small pox for the local children and adults.
One of her tales was about the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. To help tell the story, Bill Horton of Southington and Charles Kindle of Warren, with prop guns, acted out the scene.
Blennerhassett told of how Thomas Jefferson, whom she described as ''the serpent on Blennerhassett Island,'' attacked her, her husband, Harman, and Burr, the U.S. vice president.
''He claimed we were organizing an army of men on our island,'' Blennerhassett said.
Harman Blennerhassett and Burr were captured. Burr was found not guilty of the charges of treason. The Blennerhassetts eventually moved to Mississippi, where they had a cotton plantation.
Conner said the Blennerhassett Mansion today is a historic state park reachable by boat. It is where Margaret Blennerhassett and one of her sons have been buried since 1996.
''It is a splendid location and exquisite setting,'' she said.
Conner, who holds a master's degree in poetry - which she said doesn't make her very employable - portrays different characters, including Emily Dickinson, Margaret Mitchell, Zelda Fitzgerald and Blennerhassett, who she has portrayed since 1998.
Warren resident Martha Ellers said that an interesting fact is that Burr was a first cousin to John Stark Edwards of Warren. The Edwards house was located near where the Chautauqua event was being held.
Conner said her maiden name was Edwards and once the Aaron Burr Association asked her take a DNA test to see if there was an connection in her family line. She joked they didn't find the connection with Burr, but did with former presidential candidate John Edwards.
Sue Shafer of the Tribune Chronicle said the weather could not dampen the experience to see the Ohio Chautauqua. ''We know how to tough it out here,'' she said of the filled tent.
Tom and Kay Tisher of Warren said they were excited to be able to sit inside the tent for the show after having to stand outside the tent, along with many others, Tuesday when more than 700 people attended for opening night.
''You can tell how thorough the performers researched their parts and history,'' Tom Tisher said.
Kathleen Ferris of Cortland said she has attended all three performances enjoying both them and the opening acts before each show.
''Even though it's raining outside, the people still come here and show their support. This is Warren, Ohio's, spirit,'' she said.
The performances continue today with Marvin Jefferson as York and on Saturday with Hank Fincken as Johnny Appleseed.