Posts Tagged With: West Side Soldiers Aid Society

Don’t Miss the Salute to Freedom on June 13

Civil War MuseumOne hundred fifty years ago, the citizens of Milwaukee were busily preparing for the Soldiers’ Home Fair scheduled to open June 28. Hattie’s mother was one of the women responsible for this statewide effort to raise funds to build a permanent home for Wisconsin veterans. Along with thousands of other children, Hattie and her brother did their part to support the cause.

On Saturday, June 13, 2015, the Kenosha Civil War Museum is sponsoring a Soldiers’ Aid Fair as part of the annual Salute to Freedom. Members of the modern West Side Soldiers Aid Society will recreate booths from the 1865 fair, including the Delphic Oracle, Jacob’s Well, the Wool Department, the Holland Kitchen, and Old Abe. Emily and I will present a brief program on Hattie’s War at 1:00, and our friends on the Milwaukee Cream Citys will play an exhibition match of vintage base ball at 2:00. After the game, fans can take batting and field practice with the team!

Visitors can do their part to support our troops by bringing donations for the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative: bicycle locks and helmets, cleaning supplies, bath towels, facial tissues, paper towels, dryer sheets, Q-tips, bath mats, throw rugs, laundry baskets, coffee makers, toasters, crockpots, vacuum cleaners, irons / ironing boards, mops, brooms, Sterilite or Rubbermaid 26 gallon (105 quart) storage bins.

This FREE family celebration features events all day–don’t miss this unique opportunity to experience our history and heritage.

Outdoor Activities
• Music by the Regimental Volunteer Band playing original period instruments
• Artillery demonstrations by Cushing’s Battery
• Bugle demonstrations
• Union Infantry demonstrations
• “Fill the Wagon” donation drive to benefit Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative (See list above)
• Noon Welcome Home Celebration for the troops with marching, music, and patriotic speeches
• Civilian camp with Historical Timekeepers
• 2 p.m.: Baseball Exhibition match between the Milwaukee Cream City Baseball Club and the Chicago Salmon

Indoor Activities
• 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Soldier’s Aid Fair, games, crafts, pie sale, and storytelling
• 11 a.m.: Eagle & Friends program presented by the Schlitz Audubon Society
• 1 p.m.: Hattie’s War program and book signing with authors Hilda and Emily Demuth
• 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Community picnic and games
• 4 p.m.: Kenosha Pops performing a patriotic concert

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Categories: Civil War | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

In Memory of Charlie

At  Charlie Moores' grave, Memorial Day 2014

At Charlie Moores’ grave, Memorial Day 2014

In Hattie’s War, Charlie Moores plays base ball with Hattie and the other neighbor children in the backyard–until he enlists as a drummer with the 39th Wisconsin Regiment, heading to Memphis for the summer.

President Lincoln really did put out a call for 100-day regiments, with the thought that the war could be won in that time with a surge in troop numbers. Several such regiments departed from Milwaukee in June of 1864–and a drummer named Charlie Moores was among them.

Those of you who have read Hattie’s War are aware of Charlie’s fate. His true story is just as tragic. Charlie never made it home from Memphis–he died of fever while serving with the Colonel Buttrick’s 39th Wisconsin Regiment that summer.

Last Memorial Day, I took part in a wreath-laying ceremony with the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society at Forest Home Cemetery. I carried the wreath for Charlie Moores, who is buried there. As the May breeze blew through the towering oaks, I thought of Charlie–a boy who died too young, who left no direct descendants to remember him. What might he have really been like? Did he play base ball? What was his favorite subject in school? What did he like to eat? What did he plan to do when he grew up? What made his heart sing?  I felt both humbled, and heartbroken, to carry his memory.

There are thousands of young soldiers like Charlie. They lie forgotten in cemeteries across the country and over the seas. On Memorial Day, it behooves us to remember them–not as white gravestones, but as people–people who laughed and cried, went to school, learned a trade, played sports, sang and danced, and kissed their mothers or sweethearts good-bye.

Even more important, let us honor these fallen soldiers by working for peace and understanding among people, cultures, and countries different than our own, so that the cycle of fighting and violence may end.

Categories: Civil War, Hattie's War, West Side Soldiers' Aid Society | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Glimpse of Hattie’s War

soldiers' aid fair signold abe at soldiers' aid fairEarly in Plank Road Winter, Hans and his father reminisce about seeing Old Abe, the eagle mascot of the Eighth Wisconsin regiment, at the Soldiers’ Home Fair in Milwaukee when Henry Hoffman returned from the war.  Later, when Sophie visits the Soldiers’ Home, she notices that her mother is “as proud of the new building as though the donations from Yorkville ladies had funded the entire project.”

 

women at soldiers' aid fair          The Soldiers’ Home Fair of 1865 was the most significant fundraising event of Civil War Wisconsin.  In this grand version of the popular soldiers’ aid fairs, Milwaukee women enlisted the help of communities statewide to raise over $100,000 to purchase land and build a permanent home for returning soldiers on property that still serves veterans today.

fish pond at soldiers' aid fair

 

In our forthcoming book Hattie’s War, Emily and I tell the story of eleven year-old Hattie Bigelow, a Milwaukee girl deeply involved in relief efforts, including the Soldiers’ Home Fair.

On June 21, 2014, the modern West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society of Milwaukee recreated the sights and sounds and smells of that fair, treating visitors to the Civil War Museum in Kenosha to a glimpse of Hattie’s world.  In the spirit of the dedicated nineteenth-century citizens who continued to support American soldiers after the war, the sponsors of this modern fair donated all proceeds to the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

Emily and I are eager to share the rich heritage of Wisconsin’s Civil War history with readers of Hattie’s War this fall.

Categories: Hattie's War, Plank Road Winter, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Portal to the Past

Hilda and Emily Demuth signing copies of Plank Road Winter

Back in the 1970s when Emily and I attended Yorkville 4-H meetings in the old schoolhouse we knew as the Clover Center, we never dreamed that someday we’d be signing books in that very building.

On a glorious Sunday afternoon in September our families and friends and neighbors gathered for the Plank Road Winter launch party.

Dancing at the Plank Road Winter launch party in the Yorkville 4-H Clover Center

The doorway into that 1886 schoolroom was a portal to the past as the musicians played old tunes and the dancers circled and stomped on the sturdy wood floor.

John and Susan Nicholson of Frogwater

Some of those in attendance wore period attire, and these visitors from the nineteenth century mingled easily with our twenty-first century guests.

Our caller, Patricia Lynch of the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society, taught the figures of each dance.  Members of her Victorian Dancers group ably helped beginners of all ages and also demonstrated several Civil War dances.

Nineteenth century and twenty-first century guests mingling on the dance floor at the 1886 Yorkville schoolhouse

Around three o’clock when the Packer game was about to start, which meant that nobody was in line to have a book signed, Emily and I were able to take a few turns on the dance floor ourselves.

Many thanks to everyone who attended the launch and to all who share our delight in preserving traditions such as old-time dancing, especially in places like that beautiful little Yorkville schoolhouse.

Categories: Plank Road Winter, Yorkville, Wisconsin | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old-Time Dance in Yorkville, Wisconsin

This morning Patricia Lynch, Civil War dance instructor in Milwaukee and president of the West Side Soldiers Aid Society, emailed me a wonderful treasure–a PDF of a page from a dance tunebook used by Yorkville settlers in the plank road days.

According to the file description listed for this example of “Pioneer Dance Music” in the Racine Heritage Museum, the handwritten notebook of tunes and dance notations was “brought from the east by Rubin Waite in 1837 and used by three generations of the Waite family:  Rubin Sr., his son Lorenzo,  and his grandson Menzo, who donated the book to the Racine Co. Historical Room.”

The page is marked “3d Sett” and contains a reel and two jigs.   Neatly-inked quarter- and eighth-notes caper above a swirling script:

First 4  R & L/ Bal – 4  Swing/ Ladies chain/ All promenade //

These figures are familiar to square dancers and contra dancers today.  Old-time dance communities still flourish in the Midwest, following in the footsteps of the Yorkville settlers who promenaded in the Waite’s Corners schoolhouse or the ballroom of the Mather Inn.

Click here to see the 3rd Sett

If you attend the Plank Road Summer book launch at Yorkville Elementary School (see the Events page), you can join in old-time dancing with caller Dot Kent and the Hoosier Recruits, a contra dance band.  The Recruits may well be playing a dance or two out of the Waite family tunebook.

Categories: Racine County | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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