Redbank Valley Historical Society’s ‘Living History Encampment’ Adds New Features

carol-dear-janeNEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The Redbank Valley Historical Society’s “Living History Encampment” scheduled for September 26 has had new features added to the event’s plans, it was announced this week by society president Cindy Morgan.

(Photo: Carol Kennemuth, of Shannondale, displays a replica of a storied Civil War quilt)

The event, the first of its type undertaken by the five-year-old organization, will be held at the Redbank Valley Municipal Park in Alcola, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Morgan said the program will include participants ranging from reenactors dressed in Civil War-era uniforms to women dressed in attire of that period, and a blacksmith who will demonstrate his trade while engaging in story-telling. Joining the blacksmith, Dennis Murray of Emlenton, will be his wife, Judy, who will likewise join in talking with guests while she demonstrates activities women performed in the home during the 19th Century.

The event is scheduled to be held near the merry-go-round building located to the right inside the municipal park main gate.

The new features added to the agenda, Morgan said, are an area quilt-making artist who will present a replica of a 5, 600-piece Civil War quilt that hangs in a museum in Bennington, Vermont; a member of the Clarion Dulcimer Club, who will perform at 1 p.m. Also, the sponsoring group will have food and beverages for sale to the viewing public, who will have an opportunity to visit with many of the presenters, asking questions and hearing tales from the period being featured.

Also being showcased at the gathering will be the society’s recently-released book on the Civil War and the hundreds of men from what became known as the Redbank Valley who served in that war, including special individual stories of more than 40 men. The new book, nearly 180 pages in length, will be on sale at the event, and it lists about 700 men from the northern Armstrong County area and the southern Clarion County region.

Special features list numerous area cemeteries and the Civil War soldiers buried there, and there is a section on how dozens of men from the area died at Andersonville, Georgia, a Confederate prison that some historians in the next century would label as “America’s Auchwitz.”

Also on sale will be the society’s third annual edition of a calendar for the coming year, which provides old photos of the area and a capsule summary of what those pictures captured and preserved for today.

The Quilting Artist’s Masterpiece Replica

The quilting artist whose handiwork will be on display is Carol Kennemuth of Mayport, a member of the hosting organization. She has been a quilter for more than 30 years and has made 58 full-size quilts, has designed them and taught others the skills necessary to produce the multi-hued bed covers that are highly-desired collector items.

The special quilt that Kennemuth will have on display is a replica of a “Dear Jane” quilt made by Jane A. Sickle of Shaftsburg, Vermont, and embroidered in a corner block is the statement “In War Time 1863.” The quilt replica of that historic item is one of two such items she has produced, and the quilt contains 5,602 pieces and measures 80 inches square. A picture of that work of needle artistry was published in Quilting Today magazine and was listed by that magazine as one of the 10 most favorite quilts it ever published.

She has had her work featured in an international show in Japan, has worked on a four-year project on quilt documentation, and readily acknowledges that she loves the work in which she has been so deeply involved. And she notes that there have been legends about quilts during the Civil War, which she will share to visitors who inquire about that subject.

The presenter from the Clarion Dulcimer Club who will perform at 1 p.m. is Sally Ringland.

Reflecting Life in Civil War Era

Murray, who will demonstrate his blacksmithing while he spins stories, is a retired school teacher who returned to his Emlenton roots after leaving the teaching profession, and is known to his friends as “Murph.” He delights in the designation he had earned while living and working in Elk County as that county’s “No. 1 Liar.” He demonstrates a deep and versified knowledge of history, and has participated as a Civil War re-enactor as well as a blacksmith who show how men of that trade were vital to a developing America as well as to military units like the Union army which he has portrayed as a member in the era being featured.

The Civil War re-enactors who will participate in the “Living History” event are from the John T. Crawford Camp, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, of Kittanning. They will speak with inquiring visitors, demonstrate weaponry of the period, and also fire blank rounds from their muzzle-loading rifles. The commander of the unit is Sam McKissick.

Joining with the men from the Kittanning Sons of the Union Veterans participants will be women from that organization’s Sarah Crawford Auxiliary, who will speak of the multi-task responsibilities women had during the war while their men were answering the nation’s call to arms.

Persons desiring additional information on the program may contact Morgan at 365-5023.

(Article submitted by R. Leroy & Judy Tabler)

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