Center for the Arts
Opera House built in 1868 on the historic square in Pulaski, Tennessee
The Ryman Diaries, a multi-media historical show featuring seven original songs, tells the story of the romance of one Captain Tom Ryman and Bettie Baugh, a southern belle debutante growing up in Franklin with all the advantages of the daughter of the postmaster. Together, they built an empire of paddlewheel boats on the busy Cumberland River, and Ryman, after hearing traveling evangelist Sam Jones, was moved to build Nashville’s Union Gospel Tabernacle, later re-named the Ryman Auditorium. Interwoven into the story line of the building of the tabernacle, are also the separate adventures of the protagonists.
Ryman, a young boy growing up on the Cumberland River, became the soul breadwinner for his mother and sisters, and at one point was captured by Union soldiers. While held captive, the enterprising and ambitious young entrepreneur developed a commercial business with Yankees while a prisoner. Meanwhile, Bettie Baugh became a hero when she helped her mother and sister to escape their cabin during the infamous Battle of Franklin.
The romance between Bettie and Captain Tom is a major storyline and is told through acting and song. A cameo appearance by local actors cast in the role of Rev. Sam Jones rounds out the production, which also features intermittent film story and historical Civil War-era slides.
The Ryman Diaries, now in its fourth year of production, has entertained audiences composed of church groups, historical interest groups, and schools, as well as general and tour group audiences. The show has been performed at church and historical organization fund-raising events. The production in Pulaski at Antoinette Hall on Aug. 24-25 will benefit the restoration of Antoinette Hall.