Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Gettysburg Address’

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.


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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