Marion museum hosts Civil War program

MARION — More than 30 area residents filled the meeting room of the Marion Area Historical Museum on Saturday afternoon to view Civil War memorabilia and hear a presentation by guest speaker, Chad Booher from Evart.

Sponsored by the Marion Area Historical Society, the program focused on Marion ties to the Civil War.

Julie Traynor displayed components of a musket and bayonet that are part of her family’s history. Her great-grandfather’s brother served in the 3rd Michigan Cavalry and was wounded in battle. While his father was traveling to search for him, he found the items and they have been in the family ever since.

She also showed two Civil War books dating back to 1865. “Life and Death in Rebel Prisons” by Robert Kellogg is based on journals of Union Army prisoners and recounts details of the harsh conditions of prison life.

The incredible, but true, story of Sarah Edmonds is related in her book “Nurse and Spy in the Union Army” which reveals how she enlisted as a man under the name Franklin Thompson.

As Thompson, she saw combat in several campaigns and later, “disguised” as a woman, successfully served as a spy penetrating enemy lines without detection. Fearing that her secret would be discovered, she eventually went AWOL, rejoining the cause as a nurse.

Featured speaker, Chad Booher, is a Civl War enthusiast whose interest in the subject began when he was just 5 years old. At an early age he knew names of battles and generals and major events of the war.

His passion has never waned; over the years he has continued to read, do research and seek new sources of historical information, documents and artifacts to add to his collections and his knowledge of the period.

He frequently gives talks on the war to clubs and other organizations throughout the area and conducts group tours to Gettysburg and battlefield sites.

As a history detective, Booher has done research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and in historical society records, libraries and cemeteries in several states including Ohio, Virginia and Tennessee.

Booher related the stories of soldiers with ties to Marion. Based on his research, he traced their wartime years and experiences, speaking of those who were wounded, captured, decorated for valor — and those who lost their lives in battle.

He also explained how to request official documents from government offices and offered other helpful hints and tips for tracking down information and records of Civil War veterans.

Historical society president Rita Emmons thanked Booher for the interesting and informative program and commented that she was pleased with the excellent turnout for the event.

“I came today because I enjoy history,” said Pat Leonard. “I watch lots of DVDs and TV documentaries on history and this was just another chance to learn more about the Civil War. I’m a veteran and served 22 years in the Air Force and military topics are always interesting to me.”

If you’d like Booher to address your group, contact him at (231) 734-9792.

The Marion Area Historical Society oversees the museum and sponsors a number of programs and events throughout the year. The museum is at 505 S. Mill St. (M-66), Marion. For further information contact Rita Emmons, (231) 743-6448.