Cascade woman writes play about true story of a Confederate spy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cascade woman writes play about true story of a Confederate spy

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CASCADE (KWWL) -

A Confederate spy spent a summer in Cascade during the Civil War, and a play depicting this true story will debut this Fourth of July weekend.

"The True Story of John Yates Beall," written by Cascade native S. Keyron McDermott, will be a timely history lesson, she says.

McDermott grew up hearing John Yates Beall's story, but as time passed, she realized the “spy story” was unknown to younger generations.

“A couple years ago, seeing the younger generation didn't (know it), I decided it would be good to dress up in a Civil War costume, go to school and tell it,” McDermott said.

McDermott believes the telling of Beall's story started to die out when the old Chew Mansion was torn down in Cascade. The mansion once stood where Cascade Elementary now resides.

Beall stayed in the Chew mansion in the summer of 1862, the second year of the war. Historical records show he was hung when the war ended for allegations of being a spy.

She heard rumors all of her life, but more recently she started to dive into more credible documents.

“When I started researching, it was an eye-opener to discover what really happened,” McDermott said.

Plans to perform at the school fell through, but McDermott was resourceful. She saw potential for a theatrical performance, and she used her knowledge and network from her theater days at Clarke College to make it happen.

McDermott went to Clarke for theater and later taught an adjunct course at the college. Now her idea is coming to life on stage.

“This is our history, and the 150th anniversary,” McDermott said. “Not only is it important for us to know our history, but you know the old adage about what happens if you don't.”

"The True Story of John Yates Beall" will be performed at the Ellen Kennedy Fine Arts Center on Friday, July 3, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, July 4, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $12 at the door or can be bought in advance for $10 at Cascade City Hall.

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