LOCKPORT – History buffs looking for new information on Niagara County’s involvement in the Civil War are invited to attend a gathering of local historians April 20 for discussions commemorating the 150th year of the event.
The annual Congress of the Niagara County Federation of Historical Societies will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Niagara County History Center, 215 Niagara St., Lockport. It is open to the public.
This will include a lot of new information that will draw people,” said Melissa Dunlop, executive director of the Niagara County Historical Society. And not just because it’s a major anniversary of the war, she promised.
Four guest speakers will present new information throughout the day on aspects of Niagara County’s history and its connection to the Civil War. The presenters include: Robert Emerson, Tom Place, Tom Shobert and Roseanna Schaeffer.
Emerson is the executive director of Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown and has written extensively on military history. His topic is “From the Rio Grande to the Niagara: The Epic Journey of the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment.”
Place is the director of Echoes Through Time Learning Center & Civil War Museum, located in Eastern Hills Mall, Clarence. His topic is “Life of the Civil War Soldier.”
Shobert is a historian, re-enactor and volunteer at the Learning Center. He will speak on “Medicine of the Civil War.”
Shaeffer is the current vice president of the Newfane Historical Society. She is a Civil War re-enactor, cooking demonstrator and retired baker. She is affectionately known as “The Apple Butter Lady.” Her topic will be “Women in the Civil War in the Early Years.”
Dunlop said, “Emerson will be presenting information that not even a lot of people who have come to Civil War programs before are familiar with, talking about soldiers captured in New Mexico and sent to Fort Niagara.”
She continued: “Tom Place and Tom Shobert have a unique program, too, with Tom Place talking about what soldiers carried into war with them, and Tom Shobert talking about medicine. Aspirin hadn’t been invented yet, and there were no antibiotics yet, either. And Roseanna will talk about the wives who were camp followers and who did the cooking, washing and mending for all of the men. It’s a unique look at the Civil War.”
The federation comprises regional historical societies and serves as a clearinghouse for information regarding the activities and programs of its members. It has been holding this annual congress for more than two decades.
Federation President Becky Pittler said, “The annual congress is open to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend. It is not limited to members of any particular organization.”
Registration is slated for 9 a.m., and the cost is $20, which includes lunch catered by Donna Eick. Reservations are due by April 13 by calling the History Center at 434-7433.