Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Civil War’

“Civil War Songs and the Stories They Tell” with Steve and Lisa Ball

Stee and Lisa Ball

Steve and Lisa Ball  perform Civil War songs at Crossroads Library.

Music plays an important role in the ranks of the military. They have used music to signal their troops for hundreds of years. Often music served as a boost to morale of the soldiers after a hard day of battle.

Be entertained by tales of the Civil War put to music as Steve and Lisa Ball present an entertaining and informative program “Civil War Songs and Stories They Tell”. This musical way of teaching history of the Civil War from 1861-65 is shared around the country about a hundred times each year. The songs come alive with their wonderful vocal and instrumental skills.

Steve Ball guitar

An 1855 Martin is one of Steve’s favorite guitars.

Martin guitars of the Civil War era, from Steve’s private collection, are used in their presentation. All the Martins are in their original coffin cases. Steve’s only the caretaker for these guitars as they will hopefully be passed on from generation to generation. He frequently calls Lisa ‘his band’ as she joins with her upright bass and voice.

Steve’s interest in the Civil War began as a teen, when he learned his Great-Great-Grandfather, William Tyler Butts, was a Union private from Athens, Ohio. He was part of the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment out of Chillicothe. Steve is a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and wears his SUV medal on his uniform.

He’s spent the last twenty years studying the music of the Civil War era and the development of the first American folk songs. A long list of accomplishments could follow his name. They also have a Stephen Foster program telling the history of many of those popular folk songs.

During their program, the variety is astounding. There are not only patriotic pieces, but also silly marches and songs of lost love. You’ll be drawn to their music and stories even if you aren’t a Civil War buff.

Lisa's cello

Lisa plays bass and vocalizes with Steve.

Their performances happen at reenactments, indoor presentations, Civil War roundtables, and even the Ohio Statehouse. Being a Civil War buff , he researches everything so it’s authentic. Steve is living his dream.

Learn more about the history of the Civil War and come away with a better understanding of life during that time as Steve and Lisa Ball tell the story through song.

Many of the songs have a unique history, such as “Darling Nellie Gray”, a song written by Benjamin Hanby, who operated an Underground Railroad in Rush, Ohio. It told about his girlfriend, Nellie Gray, who wanted to escape to Canada. You can learn more about this song by visiting the Hanby House in Westerville, Ohio.

Steve and Lisa

Steve and Lisa add much background information on songs to their performances.

Another song “Aura Lea”, was written by Willie Fosdick (lyrics) and George Poulton (music) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Willie’s wife was Aura Lee, the woman with the golden hair. In 1955, Elvis Presley used the tune of “Aura Lee” and added new lyrics to become his theme song, “Love Me Tender”.

A popular Southern song was “Goober Peas”. Burle Ives liked the folk song. The Balls  had everyone singing along.

Peas, peas, peas, peas, eating Goober peas

Goodness how delicious, eating Goober peas..

Steve Ball CD

Listen to Civil War songs anytime with their popular CDs.

Next time you hear that Steve and Lisa Ball are performing in your area, be certain to drop by and hear their story of the Civil War in song, or perhaps you’ll hear his story of the music and life of Stephen Foster. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy their stories and music.

 

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Victorian Fashion and Civil War Artifacts – An Amazing Combination

Cindy and Tom Nord

Tom and Cindy Nord…Civil War historian and Victorian romance writer.

The perfect pair!  Once in a while you encounter a couple that seem to be the perfect match. That was the case with Victorian romance writer, Cindy Nord, and Civil War historian, Tom Nord. Where did they meet? A Civil War Reenactment!

Cindy Nord

This program was sponsored by Melissa Essex, Crossroads Library with co-sponsor Paulette Forshey, Cambridge Writers.

Their program, “Victorian Fashions and Military Artifacts of the Civil War”, travels the country presenting an interesting and informative program based in the mid 1800s. Their journey has taken them across the United States from Dallas to D.C. and New Orleans to Michigan. This time it took them to Crossroads Library in Cambridge, Ohio.

They travel around the country sharing Tom’s history of the Civil War and Cindy’s information on Victorian fashion, which she includes accurately in her romance novels. They don’t claim to know everything, but as Tom mentioned they want “to share what we know.”

Cindy Nord Civil War

 Original Civil War items on display could be gently touched.

Tom’s knowledge of Civil War Reenactments led to recruitment by filmmakers in Hollywood. He organized all reenactments in “North and South” with Patrick Swayze, “Glory” with Denzel Washington and “Lincoln”, based on the novel by Gore Vidal.

The program began with Tom describing the uniforms worn by North and South. Then shifted gears to the artillery used by both sides. The officers carried pistols, while the infantrymen used rifles. Bayonets were often attached to the ends of rifles for close range battle, while swords had several purposes.

Tom with a Civil War rifle

Tom gave detailed information on the artillery available.

When a cavalryman rode horseback, a shielded sword, rifle, cartridge box and breastplate were part of his gear. That sword could slash its way through an attacking regiment. Afterwards, it might be used to cut branches off a tree or even dig a trench.

Their display contained numerous items from a heavy cannon ball to rifles, pistols, and ammunition. Everything could be touched, which definitely made it more memorable.

Cindy Nord Victorian

This sampling of Victorian items gave a peek into the fashion of that time. Note the book: The American Frugal Housewife, 1833.

Next Cindy told about Victorian dress. She stated, “The women had to take care of everything while the men were playing war.” But when the soldiers came home from battle, they wanted the women to be beautiful from head to toe.

Queen Victoria, queen of England from 1837 – 1901, ruled the fashion world at that time. This young queen brought bright colors into popularity and was responsible for nearly all the fashion and hairstyles of that era.

Nord Tom and Cindy

Cindy and Tom dressed for a reenactment.

Pictures and actual garments exhibited the progression of fashion from 1840 – 1900. Looking good ranked first in importance to the well-heeled lady as her main purpose in life was to find a husband.

Corsets kept the waist small, while skirts lined with crinolines took on a bell shape. Until the Civil War ended, bonnets shielded their faces from the sun and offered potential suitors only a glimpse of the lovely lady.

Nord Tom and Cindy in Williamsburg

Tom and Cindy visited Williamsburg.

During that time “a lady was to be seen and not heard”. Cindy does not fit that description today, as she captivates the audience with her great sense of humor and writes romance novels that capture your attention even if you aren’t a Civil War fan. Every word in her story has importance.

Cindy book signing

Cindy always takes time for book signing and talks with fans wherever they travel.

When Tom and Cindy aren’t talking Victorian Dress and Civil War, they enjoy camping, hiking, and an occasional luxurious cruise. They frequently stop along the way to visit  places like the Mayan Ruins or the Grand Canyon. Of course, stopping at a Civil War battlefield is always high on their list.

True love awaits you in the writings of Cindy Nord. She found hers in Tom…and the rest is romantic history.

Check out her website at: Writings of Cindy Nord.

Visit Henderson Hall Plantation 19th Century Hoarders

Henderson Hall

Henderson Hall

Look for a hidden treasure across the river from Marietta, Ohio along the banks of the Ohio River. Here a Victorian plantation mansion from nearly two hundred years ago seems to watch over the river between Williamstown and Parkersburg, WV.

Even before Henderson Hall came into being, the Henderson family played a vital role in the Ohio River Valley. Vice-President Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett thought that perhaps the Henderson brothers would help in their attempt to set up a separate nation west of the Alleghenies. Hendersons would not be coerced, called their father’s friend President Thomas Jefferson, and testified in the Burr-Blennerhassett trail in 1807.

Henderson Hall was built shortly thereafter in 1835 by George Washington Henderson and Elizabeth Ann Tomlinson Henderson, grand-daughter of original claimant of Williamstown. This merger of estates encompassed 2600 acres on the eastern bank of the Ohio River. It seemed that everything they touched turned to gold, from the land they purchased, to breeding fine horses, to owners of an oil field boom.

Henderson Indian Mound

Adena Indian Mound

Walking to the house, one of the three Indian mounds on the property is clearly visible. Dating back 2,000 years, Adena mounds appear in several places in the Ohio Valley. Inside the mounds were found skeletal remains and artifacts.

Even though the Henderson family supported the efforts of the Union during the Civil War, they did themselves keep thirty slaves. Some of those slaves actually left through the Underground Railroad, which the Henderson family supported, in Marietta, Ohio.

This well preserved Victorian plantation propels visitors into the past with twenty-nine rooms to explore. All the rooms overflow with memorabilia from the 18th century to the present. It seems the Hendersons kept everything. 250 years of letters and diaries were found in the home – what treasures! Even more impressive is the trail of famous historic figures, who visited frequently.

Front Parlor

Front Parlor

In the front parlor with its gold leaf wallpaper, pictures of Elizabeth and George hang over the mantle of the fireplace. In the picture she wore a hair broach, which was considered mourning jewelry. Having twelve children during their lifetime, six of them died before the age of ten. Elizabeth took a lock of hair from each of those six children to weave into an intricate pattern for her broach, which she always wore. The broach remains on display today in their small museum.

Collections from these 19th century hoarders give visitors a chance to see the changes made in many areas of life. The overwhelming amount of treasures saved, ranges from toys to wedding gowns to beautiful dining room settings. A winding staircase curves up to the third floor ballroom, making the mind wonder how those ladies managed these steep stairs in their flowing gowns.

The original kitchen

The original kitchen

The 1836 kitchen holds household cooking utensils and crockery dating back a couple centuries. This was part of the original smaller house before the 1859 impressive addition. Many of the rusted kitchen utensils can be found stored in the basement today.

When the last family member died in 2007, the historic house was deeded to the Board of West Virginia Oil & Gas Museum. Today they keep the place in repair and have great guides to share the Henderson story.

First school houe in West Virginia

First school houe in West Virginia

The earliest school in the area was here behind Henderson Hall in 1836. Note the teacher’s desk with candle and switch – for pointing and for correcting. Several old books from that time period have been placed on the students’ desk along with slates to practice writing and mathematics. Original equipment includes:  slates, blackboards, and seats. What a thrill to gently touch the slates, which were used by youngsters from the 1800’s.

The Carriage House contains different buggies. Among them is the actual buggy used by the original founders, George and Elizabeth, on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls.

Henderson Hall overflows with treasures too numerous to mention. Hopefully you have now received a taste of history that will whet your appetite for more. Johnny Chapman, John James Audubon, and Stephen Foster always enjoyed their visits here.  Shouldn’t you?

Henderson Hall Plantation is just a few miles off I-77 at the Williamstown, WV exit. Follow Route 14 South, then turn right on Old River Road. Summer hours are noon- 5 p.m. daily.

 

 

Remains of Civil War Veteran Rededicated at Sarahsville, Ohio

Funeral Procession arrives at Village View Cemetery.

Funeral Procession arrives at Village View Cemetery.

Village View Cemetery in Sarahsville, Ohio was the scene of the rededication of the remains of Pvt. Absalom (Abner) Robinson, Civil War veteran.  2013 was the 120th anniversary of Abner’s death and the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s well-known Gettysburg Address.

Robinson brothers arrived ready to help at original burial site.

Robinson brothers arrived ready to help at original burial site.

Actual preparation for the ceremony began earlier in the week when three great-great-grandsons of Pvt. Abner Robinson met on top a hill in East Union with township trustees and the local funeral home. They knew exactly where Abner Robinson had been buried as the tombstone was still on the hill. Seems that in 1893, Abner died after being struck in the eye by a rusty nail while helping with work on a barn. At that time they were not certain of the actual cause of death or what illness might be involved, so decided to bury Abner on top of a far away hill so he wouldn’t spread his possible disease, most likely tetanus, to anyone else.

Hardware from 1893 casket

Hardware from 1893 casket

Knowing the story, the family decided they would like Abner Robinson’s remains to be moved to their family plot. After digging by the tombstone, they found no sign of any remains. But when one of the relatives suggesting digging closer to the cedar tree, they made some exciting discoveries.   Not only did they find the original cedar casket, which was squashed to about eight inches, but inside they found several bones, part of the skull, and teeth. There were also hinges that still worked on the lid as well as other pieces of rusted metal.

The local funeral home, McVay-Perkins of Caldwell, took those body parts found in the 1893 casket, and put them in a pouch to be placed inside the new casket, which was made of cherry wood.

Hearse with Sons of Union Civil War Veterans and Governor Dollison

Hearse with Sons of Union Civil War Veterans and Governor Dollison

When approaching a distinguished gentleman in a top hat before the ceremony, I asked him if he would be so kind as to let me take his picture with the Sons of Union Veterans that were present. His answer surprised me, “You are speaking to Governor Dennison, the 23rd Governor of Ohio. Next thing you know women like you will be asking for the right to vote.” When asked about the Civil War, he freely expressed his opinion, “That was a war of southern rebellion, there was nothing civil about it.”

Two black Perchenon horses prepare for the procession.

Two black Percheron horses prepare for the procession.

The funeral hearse drawn by twin black Percheron horses and provided by Robert Baird of Troy, Ohio, started their route at the Sarahsville Center Free Methodist Church.  What a procession it was! Following the horse-drawn funeral carriage bearing Pvt. Robinson’s cherry casket, members of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War marched to the cadance of the fife and drum corps. Many descendents of Abner also walked the half mile road to Village View Cemetery in Sarahsville.

Abner Robinson (1836-1893) served as a Private in Company G, 62nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil war. Three of his brother, William, George, and John, were also members of the Union forces.  Abner’s unit saw active service in places such as Shenandoah Valley, Peninsula Campaign, Beaufort, Morris Island and Fair Oaks.

Many speakers participated in the graveside service, which lasted about an hour, before the casket covered with a 34 star flag, which was later given to the family. Family members presented a wreath in honor of all Union soldiers in the Civil War conflict

Governor Dennison rededicated Pvt. Robinson's remains.

Governor Dennison rededicated Pvt. Robinson’s remains.

One of the highlights was the speech by Robert W. Davis, portraying Governor William F Dennison. His main purpose was to rededicate the remains of Abner Robinson to their new resting place. However, Gov. Dennison also portrayed his role during the  Civil War by saying, “I will defend any slaves that come to Ohio with a bayonet.” His boldness was clearly expressed when he exclaimed, “All rebels should be hung.” When President Lincoln told the governor he needed 10,000 men, Gov. Dennison replied that he only had 18,000 men total, but within the week he had over 13,000 men marching into Columbus headquarters ready to fight.  He proclaimed, “We will keep this United States together until our last breath.”

21 gun salute ends the ceremony.

A three round rifle salute ends the ceremony.

The ceremony was brought to an end with a three round rifle salute by the color guard. A traditional fife rendition of Taps and a prayer concluded the events.

Abner’s life must have been a difficult one from his Civil War battles to the farm in McCleary, Ohio (now East Union). When he died, the copy of Probate Court papers declared that his amount of personal property would be about $2.00 and his real estate about $15.00. Have to imagine that the rededication of his remains was more expensive than anything he could possibly have imagined.

This ceremony held extra interest for this Gypsy since Pvt. Abner Robinson was the great-great-grandfather of my cousin’s husband, Jerry Robinson. Jerry is one of those pictured at the original grave site and helped with discovering the remains.

John Morgan’s Raid in Ohio 150th Anniversary Celebration

Morgan's Freebooters enter Washington, Ohio ~Harper's Weekly, Aug, 1863

Morgan’s Freebooters enter Washington, Ohio
~Harper’s Weekly, Aug, 1863

John Morgan with the remnant of a band composed of the most villanous cut-throats and scoundrels….made his way into this county on Thursday, the 22nd. (Guernsey Times Extra Addition Cambridge, Ohio July 28, 1863)

This statement by the local newspaper back in 1863  sums up the feeling of Northern residents regarding the antics of Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan, who led his raiders on a chase through Ohio during the Civil War.  His main goals were to destroy supply lines while creating chaos and fear.

Cannon fire ignites celebration.

Cannon fire ignites celebration.

This special celebration took place in Lore City, Ohio at the Leatherwood Park trailhead of The Great Guernsey Trail, which is a paved pathway from Lore City to Cambridge used for walking and biking.  Often you see parents pushing their children in strollers, or children pushing their parents in wheelchairs. This six mile trail has become a favorite spot to exercise and get some fresh air in the Guernsey County area.

Andy Warhola, Civil War speaker

Andy Warhola, Civil War speaker

Local Civil War Roundtable members, Andy Warhola and Tom Snyder, explained Morgan’s ravaging two week raid through Ohio with slides, maps and pictures. They told of Morgan’s stealing two steamboats in order to cross the Ohio River into Indiana. Proceeding into Ohio above Cincinnati, they headed across the state with Union forces in pursuit.

Thinking the best way to escape was to again cross the Ohio River, Morgan led his men to a ford, which would let them have easy access to Buffington Island, a stepping stone across the Ohio. But his plan went amiss when Morgan decided to wait until morning for the crossing instead of attempting to move in the pitch darkness of night. The next morning however produced heavy fog, so again he was delayed, thus giving the USS Moose time to reach their crossing point. This is said to be the only Civil War battle in Ohio. Here the Union turned Morgan and his Confederates away with heavy losses.  What had started out as 2500 men, was down to approximatley 1100 after the battle at Buffington Island.

After this they headed towards Guernsey County entering at Cumberland and continuing to Londonderry. Finally they were captured in Salineville, heading to the Ohio River again. Along the way they were hungry and needed horses so there was plenty of thievery and destruction.

In the town of Campbell’s Station, which is today Lore City, there was more financial damage than anywhere else in the county.  They robbed the safe in the warehouse of $4,000, then burned the warehouse, train station and bridge as well as three railroad cars filled with tobacco…all this before the Union forces arrived.

Couple in Civil War dress

Couple in Civil War dress

Nearly 150 years later, Lore City was filled with a Civil War feeling as many dressed in clothing of the time. A cannon was fired several times after careful loading by a group of Morgan County Re-enactors dressed as Confederate soldiers.

Local historian, Dave Adair, described the town of Campbell’s Station, which at the time of attack had only about sixty people. Their telegraph office was kept busy sending messages and receiving replies regarding Morgan’s Raiders. Due to the messages, Morgan and his Rebel scoundrels changed their route to avoid a railroad trestle, where a hundred men were waiting to ambush them.

Dave Adair speaks in the pavilion, which was the site of the original train station in Campbell's Station.

Dave Adair speaks in the pavilion, which was the site of the original train station in Campbell’s Station.

Dave also explained why Campbell’s Station changed its name to Lore City.  There happened to be two Campbell’s Stations at that time and the larger one kept the name. When deciding what to rename the smaller town, the Irish Catholics had a big hand in it. Their church were attempting to educate the people in this small community; therefore devised the new name as The City of Learning or Lore City… lore meaning knowledge or learning.

Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers

Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers

Spinning and weaving demonstrations were given by members of The Ohio Hills Spinners and Weavers, who also added stories of working conditions during the Civil War. Music was plentiful from start to finish. Bluegrass music, which included many Civil War songs, was provided by Mr and Mrs Small. While many of the Civil War songs were of a sad nature, Mrs. Small had written a happy song, Black Berries, to which everyone sang along. Cambridge City Band swung into action with their rendition of Civil War hits such as: Listen to the Mockingbird, Swanee River and many more. This was followed later by Dynamic Trio, who played 50’s and 60’s rock and roll.

Riders enjoying the horse and wagon ride were greeted by Mayor Carpenter and wife, Sharon.

Horse and wagon riders were greeted by Mayor Carpenter and wife, Sharon.

Horses were an important part of the Civil War and it is estimated that over a million horses and mules were lost during the battles. General Morgan was indeed known as “The King of Horse Thieves”.  Wagon rides, which seemed fitting for the anniversary celebration, were provided along a segment of the Lore City trailhead in a wagon resembling the wagons used during the war to carry generals, the wounded and supplies.

If you want to get a little more adventuresome, today you can follow the trail that Morgan made during his raid. Signs have been posted from Cumberland to Londonderry with information regarding the events that took place in that particular area. Would make an interesting Sunday drive!

Lore City, Ohio is located in Guernsey County just east of I-77. Take exit 46, US Route 40 east, then follow Route 40 for four miles and turn right on State Route 265.  Continue on 265 until a four way stop, where a right hand turn leads you over the bridge to Lore City.  Leatherwood Park is to the left after you cross the bridge.

Civil War Encampment Days Beyond the Skirmish

Will the Yanks run the Rebels out of town? Reenactors lined the streets of McConnelsville, Ohio for their 25th Annual Civil War Encampment Days, Ohio’s longest consecutive running reenactment.  What a great place to observe the living history of the Civil War.

Everyone dressed in period costume in the soldier camps seemed eager to discuss their life style, and patiently answered all questions.  Their canvas tents provided great cover from rain storms.  However, they reminded those in attendance that it was important not to touch the canvas with your fingers during a rain.  Seems the oil on your fingers would make the canvas leak. Rains were important for their War Gardens, which provided food for the army as well as land owners.

Since death was frequently a visitor during this time, ladies told about the cemeteries where they often held picnics. Union stones were flat so you might sit on them, but the Confederate stones had a pointed top so “Yankees” couldn’t sit on their tombstones. The ladies also mentioned that black wreaths were hung on doors when someone died as a notice of death, since it was the only method of letting the neighbors know.

Many medical treatments were explained by the blood stained Head Surgeon of the Confederate regiment. When asked what might be used to help a headache, the major informed visitors that opium would be used if it was severe, while a relaxing morphine or sassafras would be used  for minor headaches. If the headache was too bad, they would just bore a hole in the head to release the evil spirits. Upset stomachs were treated with licorice or ketchup, and beef extract provided a soothing soup for many ailments. They even had a hollow doll that was used to smuggle medicine through the opposing lines.  Later in the afternoon at the field hospital, the surgeon cured a case of gangrene and subsequent blood poisoning by sawing off the leg of the victim.

Walked down to the Courthouse for “Squirmish on the Square”, where a staged battle occurred between soldiers from the North and South. Much ceremony was involved in the presentation of the battle both before and afterwards. There was even a bit of humor thrown in as they robbed a Wells Fargo box and then blew it up. The closing ceremony showed soldiers from both sides presenting arms, taps were played and a wreath was placed on the Civil War Private monument standing in the center of Main Street.  The base of this monument is made of stone from Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address is engraved on one side of the monument.

After a hot afternoon on the square, it was time for a drink. As Yosemite Sam would have said, “Sasparilly, and make it snappy!” Sarsaparillo was a popular drink of the Civil War era and a cold bottle hit the spot.  Made from sarsaparilla roots, this drink is  called “The Granddaddy of All Root Beers”.  Originally the bitter root brew was used for medicinal purposes treating digestive problems, but later sugar water was added to make it more palatable. ..and a soft drink was born.

Ladies’ Tea was served amid beautiful hooped gowns and lovely flowered hats. Cucumber sandwiches, fresh fruit, and small cakes were part of the traditional menu. After tea, Verna Owens of St Mary’s, West Virginia told tea drinkers about Women During the War…from the Confederate viewpoint. Her leader was President Jefferson Davis, who had his Confederate White House at Richmond.

She described the proper dress and manners for a Southern lady, who always carried a parasol and wore a hat.  Her cooling fan accomplished an additional task as a means of expressing her thoughts without saying a word.  For example a fan closed in a snap meant she was angry with what was being said, while fanning quickly might mean she couldn’t believe what was happening, or as we might say, “Oh, my!” Many toys of the time were explained and on display. Quiet dolls for church were made out of handkerchiefs, and there was a cow’s jaw for musical entertainment. When soldiers were leaving for battle they gave their sweethearts a tear bottle to collect their tears while they were gone.  Upon their return, they hoped to find it at least half full. Verna closed by saying one truth learned from the war was that we definitely should learn to get along.

In the evening, a Civil War Ball captured the beauty that sometimes appears in the midst of turmoil. Ladies were dressed in their finest, but few hats were worn to the ball…just ribbons or flowers in their hair. Some men wore their uniforms while others were dressed in their best tailcoat. Dancers swirled around the floor doing The Promenade, Waltz, Virginia Reel, and Patty Cake Polka with music provided by Back Porch Swing Band.  What a great ending to a Civil War Day.

This particular Civil War Encampment occurred in McConnelsville, Ohio which is just South of Zanesville, Ohio on Route 669 following the beautiful Muskingum River.  Located riverside just north of town is The Boondocks, one of Ohio’s best small-town eateries being featured in many magazines across the state. Their specialties are their award winning BBQ as well as their great and friendly service.  Could be worth a Sunday drive for a nice meal even if there isn’t an encampment happening!

Abraham Lincoln

“Lincoln and Liberty,” the song Abraham Lincoln used in his campaign for presidency, opened a fun filled evening on the final night of Coshocton’s Bi-Centennial Chautauqua celebration.  Wildwood & Friends got the crowd in the mood with several Civil War era songs, including what they said was Abraham Lincoln’s favorite song, “Old Hundredth,” although some say it was “Dixie.”

When the easily recognized figure of Abraham Lincoln appeared, complete with top hat, he was greeted with a standing ovation. Dr. Richard Johnson, Professor Emeritus at California State Polytechnic University, became for the evening a very believable Abraham Lincoln.

“That reminds me of a story..” was an oft repeated phrase throughout his presentation as he fulfilled his reputation for humorous tales.  His first joke was told similar to this, although the exact words were not recorded:

In Washington D.C., they say that I am the homeliest person they have ever seen. This reminds me of a story…a woman I met once told me, “You are the ugliest man I have ever seen.”  To which I replied, “I can’t help it.” The woman then said, “You could stay home.”

The Republican party chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for president because he was a great spokesman and a moderate candidate, who they felt could get a lot of votes.

As the Rail Candidate, Abraham Lincoln’s candidacy was depicted as being held up by the slavery issue. In this cartoon characterization, Lincoln says, “It is true I have split Rails, but I begin to feel as if  this rail would split me.  It’s the hardest stick I ever straddled.”  The black man complains, “Dis Nigger strong and willin’ but its awful hard work to carry Old Massa Abe on nothing but dis ere rail!”  One of Lincoln’s foremost supporters in the Northeast, Greeley here assures him, “We can prove that you have split rails and that will ensure your election to the Presidency.”

During his election campaign, an eleven year old girl wrote to Mr Lincoln stating that she felt he would look much better with whiskers.  Lincoln answered her letter but made no promises; however, shortly thereafter began growing his beard, which is a familiar part of his image everyone recognizes today.

His wife and sons played important roles in Lincoln’s life.  Mary, his wife, was an ally in Springfield, but in D.C. was not a good advisor.  This perhaps due to the death of their son, Willie, which devastated Mary.  At this point she attempted to gain comfort from spiritualists and even conducted seances in the White House.

Lincoln felt the Civil War was worth fighting to protect future children and give them a chance to make something of themselves.  The government at that time and their sacrifices made this possible.  He called out for freedom in the land, and proclaimed that “We must come back together.”

The evening under the Chautauqua banner would not have been complete without the now famous Gettysburg Address, which received another standing ovation.  Later Lincoln said that he composed it in no more than seventeen days, and was actually still working on it when it was delivered.

His career advice to those entering the legal profession seemed very practical:    Try to be an honest lawyer.                                                                                                            Be honest in what you do.                                                                                                              Be respectful of others.                                                                                                                     Help them when you can.

Very simple advice, but still a wise lesson for us to follow today… as it was for Honest Abe.

Every summer the Ohio Humanities Council in conjunction with Ohio State University’s Humanities Institute provides compelling first person historical portrayals around the state of Ohio.  Tune in again next summer for another exciting line-up of influential figures in our country’s history.

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