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Re-enactors share local Civil War stories

The re-enactors themselves were not local, but they turned out in uniform on Saturday, Sept. 29 to honor several Civil War soldiers buried in the Millington-Newark Cemetery. The event was sponsored by Newark’s Fern Dell Historic Association.

Association board member Nels Moe enjoyed the walk with several visitors. He said his great-grandfather was a Civil War soldier as well, and is buried at Helmar.

Moe and Van Mathre credit fellow board member Mike Hopkins with coordinating the event and writing the scripts for the re-enactors.

Hopkins said his information came from various sources including local historians, history books and genealogy websites.

The re-enactors participating were members of the 104th and 10th regiments. On the cemetery grounds, they established a company street, performed drills and talked with visitors about the life of a soldier serving during the Civil War.

Established in 1835, the cemetery is the final resting place of more than 100 local men who fought in the Civil War. At least one, Col. Porter C. Olson, was originally buried elsewhere. According to re-enactor Paul Skalak of Westchester, Olson was moved to the local cemetery by the men who served with him in the 36th.

“He led his men by example,” Skalak said.

Educated at Beloit College, Olson was part of the first Norwegian family to settle in Kendall County, and his family home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

He died after being struck by a musket ball in battle. “His whispered final words were, ‘Oh Lord, help me,’” Skalak said.

Re-enactor Ricky Holman of Aurora said the association has done a superb job of identifying the soldiers and gathering biographical information about them.

Discussing Andrew Brown, Holman said he decided he couldn’t leave with the rest of the troops on the appointed day because he didn’t have his property in order. He left a day later and upon arrival in Joliet, “his lieutenant cheered.”

Joliet was the farthest Brown had ever been from his home.

Described as a model soldier, Holman said Brown had one minor setback when he was charged with “depricating private property.” The story goes that Brown ran across a cow, milked her and put the milk in his canteen.

“He was charged, but we don’t know the outcome,” Holman said.

Re-enactor Mark Contratto of Aurora shared information about William Francis Donovan, a major. After serving as an officer over what were then called “colored troops,” Donovan eventually became active in politics. He also was involved in the establishment of national cemeteries.

Edwin Howe, one of Kendall County’s early settlers, served the entire length of the war, according to re-enactor Steve Skalak of Westchester.

“He fought in 26 engagements, was wounded and was captured twice,” Skalak said.

Not a commissioned officer, researchers have been unable to determine Howe’s rank.

Re-enactor Bob Winter of Lombard talked about Lindsey H. Carr. Originally from New York, Carr owned a general store in Sandwich. He was killed by a sharpshooter in New Madrid, Mo.

Winter was pleased to be able to display a photo of Carr.

Brothers Rueben and Kip Baldwin’s headstones have suffered the ravages of time and the weather, along with damage by vandals. Re-enactor J. Perkins of Bartlett said Rueben died of typhoid, and very little is known about Kip.

Hopkins said the cemetery is also the resting place of at least one Revolutionary War soldier as well as three or four men who served in the War of 1812 and a couple more who fought in the Spanish-American War.

Mathre said 70 to 80 people visited. “We hoped for more, but there was so much going on that day,” she said.

This was the second year the association hosted a walk. Last year, Mathre said it was conducted at night, but organizers learned that some of the older potential visitors wouldn’t participate at night.

“My son (Jeff) took one group of ladies around the cemetery in a golf cart and that seemed to work out well. Next time, we’re going to try to get more golf carts,” Mathre said.

“Some people asked why we didn’t make it like a haunted cemetery walk last year,” Hopkins said. “I don’t ever want to do that. A lot of important local people are buried there and I want to show them respect.

“I don’t want this walk to become a circus.”The re-enactors themselves were not local, but they turned out in uniform on Saturday, Sept. 29 to honor several Civil War soldiers buried in the Millington-Newark Cemetery. The event was sponsored by Newark’s Fern Dell Historic Association.

Association board member Nels Moe enjoyed the walk with several visitors. He said his great-grandfather was a Civil War soldier as well, and is buried at Helmar.

Moe and Van Mathre credit fellow board member Mike Hopkins with coordinating the event and writing the scripts for the re-enactors.

Hopkins said his information came from various sources including local historians, history books and genealogy websites.

The re-enactors participating were members of the 104th and 10th regiments. On the cemetery grounds, they established a company street, performed drills and talked with visitors about the life of a soldier serving during the Civil War.

Established in 1835, the cemetery is the final resting place of more than 100 local men who fought in the Civil War. At least one, Col. Porter C. Olson, was originally buried elsewhere. According to re-enactor Paul Skalak of Westchester, Olson was moved to the local cemetery by the men who served with him in the 36th.

“He led his men by example,” Skalak said.

Educated at Beloit College, Olson was part of the first Norwegian family to settle in Kendall County, and his family home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

He died after being struck by a musket ball in battle. “His whispered final words were, ‘Oh Lord, help me,’” Skalak said.

Re-enactor Ricky Holman of Aurora said the association has done a superb job of identifying the soldiers and gathering biographical information about them.

Discussing Andrew Brown, Holman said he decided he couldn’t leave with the rest of the troops on the appointed day because he didn’t have his property in order. He left a day later and upon arrival in Joliet, “his lieutenant cheered.”

Joliet was the farthest Brown had ever been from his home.

Described as a model soldier, Holman said Brown had one minor setback when he was charged with “depricating private property.” The story goes that Brown ran across a cow, milked her and put the milk in his canteen.

“He was charged, but we don’t know the outcome,” Holman said.

Re-enactor Mark Contratto of Aurora shared information about William Francis Donovan, a major. After serving as an officer over what were then called “colored troops,” Donovan eventually became active in politics. He also was involved in the establishment of national cemeteries.

Edwin Howe, one of Kendall County’s early settlers, served the entire length of the war, according to re-enactor Steve Skalak of Westchester.

“He fought in 26 engagements, was wounded and was captured twice,” Skalak said.

Not a commissioned officer, researchers have been unable to determine Howe’s rank.

Re-enactor Bob Winter of Lombard talked about Lindsey H. Carr. Originally from New York, Carr owned a general store in Sandwich. He was killed by a sharpshooter in New Madrid, Mo.

Winter was pleased to be able to display a photo of Carr.

Brothers Rueben and Kip Baldwin’s headstones have suffered the ravages of time and the weather, along with damage by vandals. Re-enactor J. Perkins of Bartlett said Rueben died of typhoid, and very little is known about Kip.

Hopkins said the cemetery is also the resting place of at least one Revolutionary War soldier as well as three or four men who served in the War of 1812 and a couple more who fought in the Spanish-American War.

Mathre said 70 to 80 people visited. “We hoped for more, but there was so much going on that day,” she said.

This was the second year the association hosted a walk. Last year, Mathre said it was conducted at night, but organizers learned that some of the older potential visitors wouldn’t participate at night.

“My son (Jeff) took one group of ladies around the cemetery in a golf cart and that seemed to work out well. Next time, we’re going to try to get more golf carts,” Mathre said.

“Some people asked why we didn’t make it like a haunted cemetery walk last year,” Hopkins said. “I don’t ever want to do that. A lot of important local people are buried there and I want to show them respect.

“I don’t want this walk to become a circus.”The re-enactors themselves were not local, but they turned out in uniform on Saturday, Sept. 29 to honor several Civil War soldiers buried in the Millington-Newark Cemetery. The event was sponsored by Newark’s Fern Dell Historic Association.

Association board member Nels Moe enjoyed the walk with several visitors. He said his great-grandfather was a Civil War soldier as well, and is buried at Helmar.

Moe and Van Mathre credit fellow board member Mike Hopkins with coordinating the event and writing the scripts for the re-enactors.

Hopkins said his information came from various sources including local historians, history books and genealogy websites.

The re-enactors participating were members of the 104th and 10th regiments. On the cemetery grounds, they established a company street, performed drills and talked with visitors about the life of a soldier serving during the Civil War.

Established in 1835, the cemetery is the final resting place of more than 100 local men who fought in the Civil War. At least one, Col. Porter C. Olson, was originally buried elsewhere. According to re-enactor Paul Skalak of Westchester, Olson was moved to the local cemetery by the men who served with him in the 36th.

“He led his men by example,” Skalak said.

Educated at Beloit College, Olson was part of the first Norwegian family to settle in Kendall County, and his family home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

He died after being struck by a musket ball in battle. “His whispered final words were, ‘Oh Lord, help me,’” Skalak said.

Re-enactor Ricky Holman of Aurora said the association has done a superb job of identifying the soldiers and gathering biographical information about them.

Discussing Andrew Brown, Holman said he decided he couldn’t leave with the rest of the troops on the appointed day because he didn’t have his property in order. He left a day later and upon arrival in Joliet, “his lieutenant cheered.”

Joliet was the farthest Brown had ever been from his home.

Described as a model soldier, Holman said Brown had one minor setback when he was charged with “depricating private property.” The story goes that Brown ran across a cow, milked her and put the milk in his canteen.

“He was charged, but we don’t know the outcome,” Holman said.

Re-enactor Mark Contratto of Aurora shared information about William Francis Donovan, a major. After serving as an officer over what were then called “colored troops,” Donovan eventually became active in politics. He also was involved in the establishment of national cemeteries.

Edwin Howe, one of Kendall County’s early settlers, served the entire length of the war, according to re-enactor Steve Skalak of Westchester.

“He fought in 26 engagements, was wounded and was captured twice,” Skalak said.

Not a commissioned officer, researchers have been unable to determine Howe’s rank.

Re-enactor Bob Winter of Lombard talked about Lindsey H. Carr. Originally from New York, Carr owned a general store in Sandwich. He was killed by a sharpshooter in New Madrid, Mo.

Winter was pleased to be able to display a photo of Carr.

Brothers Rueben and Kip Baldwin’s headstones have suffered the ravages of time and the weather, along with damage by vandals. Re-enactor J. Perkins of Bartlett said Rueben died of typhoid, and very little is known about Kip.

Hopkins said the cemetery is also the resting place of at least one Revolutionary War soldier as well as three or four men who served in the War of 1812 and a couple more who fought in the Spanish-American War.

Mathre said 70 to 80 people visited. “We hoped for more, but there was so much going on that day,” she said.

This was the second year the association hosted a walk. Last year, Mathre said it was conducted at night, but organizers learned that some of the older potential visitors wouldn’t participate at night.

“My son (Jeff) took one group of ladies around the cemetery in a golf cart and that seemed to work out well. Next time, we’re going to try to get more golf carts,” Mathre said.

“Some people asked why we didn’t make it like a haunted cemetery walk last year,” Hopkins said. “I don’t ever want to do that. A lot of important local people are buried there and I want to show them respect.

“I don’t want this walk to become a circus.”

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